Meet the Haitian-Canadian who runs an Italian grocery store

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Meet the Haitian-Canadian who runs an Italian grocery store

One after another, families make their way to Épicerie Alimentari Sud on Montreal's South Shore, hoping to pick up a Colomba di Pasqua for Easter.

The popular Italian cake is a must for the holiday and the man selling them is Wesner Charles, a Haitian-born Quebecer who has never been to Italy.

The Saint-Lambert store is filled with all things Italian: from the espresso and biscotti to the olive oil and pistachio cream.

While Wesner hasn't had a chance to visit the country, he's determined to learn just about everything he can about the culture.

"All the products that are new for me are new for my customers, so when they come, I want to make sure they have the proper answers and the proper information about what I'm selling," he said.

"When Italians come here, they find it authentic."

Heading into its third year, Épicerie Alimentari Sud has been adopted by South Shore citizens.

It's a haven for gelato-lovers and he sponsors a local baseball team. The "Angels of Saint-Lambert" even have a gelato flavour named after them.

Charles works at his store seven days a week and calls it a labour of love. He also thinks it's silly to think only Italians can open an Italian store.

"I was selling German cars and I'm not German!" he said.

"I think in these days, it is better to have the knowledge, to know about what your selling."

As the store grows in popularity, Charles hopes he can soon take a vacation, to visit Italy and see some of the places where his products are made.

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