Born and raised in Montreal, Valentina Manoukian graduated from Dawson College to pursue her passion for arts and interior design. Today, she is an Interior Designer at Cameo Collection, creating custom furniture pieces for clients using programs such as AutoCAD. She also stages an 8,000 sq. ft. showroom to help customers envision specific settings and provides at-home consultations. Despite the demands on her busy work life, Manoukian still finds time to volunteer with AGBU Montreal, giving back to her school and the community that shaped her.
AGBU has shaped who I have become, and I want to give future generations of Armenians the same experience and opportunities that I have received.
What is your title and responsibilities of your current position? I am the In House Interior Designer at Cameo Collection, a furniture store and manufacturer located in Montreal. With pro-grams such as AutoCAD, I design and create various furniture pieces that are aesthetically pleasing and meet each client’s needs and requirements. I also stage the 8000sq/ft showroom to help customers envision these pieces within a specific setting. Recently, I’ve begun doing at-home consultations where I meet with the client and provide essential design elements such as furniture choices, sizes as well as fabric and finish options.
How did you first become involved with AGBU Montreal? My first experience was as a member of the AGBU Scouts. I also attended the AGBU Alex Manoogian School of Montreal throughout elementary. That being said, my family has always been strong supporters of AGBU and the Armenian community. I was very active during the 45th anniversary of the AGBU Alex Manoogian School. It was a very successful and rewarding event. We reconnected with past students and shared wonderful memories. We truly realized that this school bonded us and gave us our first sense of belonging. Interestingly, it is through this involvement that I met my fiancé, also a former graduate from the school.
Why is it important to give back to your community through AGBU and any other projects? Contributing to your community is a rewarding experience—it’s beneficial for others but it is also rewarding for yourself. AGBU has shaped who I have become, and I want to give future generations of Armenians the same experience and opportunities that I have received through my years in scouting, arts and recently through the AGBU summer internship program.
How would you describe Montreal’s Armenian Community? Montreal’s Armenian Community is one of the most active and vibrant communities in the diaspora. It is strong and progressive, while keeping the values and traditions of our heritage, as well as the mission of AGBU. Our community crosses all generational boundaries, where several generations work together as one.
It has succeeded in preserving and maintaining a very active Armenian community that is very warm and close knit. I think what makes us so special is that there are so many programs and activities that you can always find something to be part of and be involved in. We have sports, scouts, youth, Young Professionals, dance classes, lecture series, Saturday programs for children to name a few that are all doing very well. Any Friday night, when you pass by the AGBU Center, it is not uncommon to have difficulty to find a parking spot for your car!
You enjoy your Armenian heritage at home and in the community and identify as a bilingual Montrealer as well as a Canadian. What are the benefits of this multicultural experience? The benefits of being trilingual are immense. On a professional level, it provides me with work opportunities on both local and international fronts. On a personal level, it also allows me to interact with different people and this itself is a richness. Growing up in a multi-cultural milieu has made me realize the importance of being an open-minded person. It is a balancing act of being welcoming to new ideas while being true to fundamental values and traditions.
What projects are you planning/hoping to pursue in the future? I hope to establish myself as an innovative and detail-oriented designer to create my own line of home accessories and furniture. Furthermore, through my many trips to Armenia, I’ve noticed that there is a lot of talent in the arts. Therefore, I would love to create an Interior Design symposium in Armenia to show-case their talent and to give everyone the opportunity to learn from each other. I would also hope that someday soon, the creative products made in Armenia, can be shown and sold all over the world.
Banner Illustration by Luis Tinoco