Mélina Roberge: her taste for luxury led her to prison for five years

bling bling, selfies and superficiality: it is her way of life as a broke spendthrift, greedy for luxury, which led to prison one of the two Quebecers arrested in Australia for having participated in the trafficking of tens of kilos of cocaine.

“I was looking at Instagram accounts of influencers and I wanted to look like them. I too wanted a Louis Vuitton handbag, Gucci sunglasses and a Rolex watch. I dreamed of being rich, plus I had no plan to get there and not a penny in the bank.

These words are those of Mélina Roberge, confide in the book without filterin bookstores after this week and co-signed with the journalist from Montreal Journal Claudia Berthiaume.

Mélina Roberge makes no secret of it in her “I” story: the influence of social networks and her desire to convey an image of luxury and great life led to a series of bad decisions that landed her behind bars.

In the meantime, Mélina Roberge considers her story a “missed luxury” until her arrest in 2016, which at the time had toured the planet.

It is in particular by superficiality that the follower of social networks agreed to board – all expenses paid – of the sea ​​princessa cruise ship that was to set sail for more than a dozen heavenly destinations.


During her cruise, Mélina Roberge posed with her fellow prisoner, Isabelle Lagacé in heavenly places.

Photo Courtesy, Mélina Roberge

During her cruise, Mélina Roberge posed with her fellow prisoner, Isabelle Lagacé in heavenly places.

EVERYTHING FOR INSTAGRAM

And even though she knew that behind the trip there was a major cocaine traffic in the country, she would inevitably have to play a role, she decided to take part in it. A small price to pay – she believed at the time – to fill her Instagram profile with more attractive photos than the other.

“My life was just about looking good. In the past, even if I had no money, I would still have chosen to go get my manicure instead of paying my roommate who had advanced me money. It was stupidities like that that today I would not do,” she confessed in an interview.


Before her arrest, the young woman lived the high life, even getting paid to accompany people to a party, like during this bachelor party, described in the book.

Photo Courtesy, Mélina Roberge

Before her arrest, the young woman lived the high life, even getting paid to accompany people to a party, like during this bachelor party, described in the book.

With a multitude of colorful details and a touch of humor in their own image, the two authors take the reader to the heart of Mélina Roberge’s journey, her arrest and her five years in various prisons in Australia.

With her story, the 29-year-old Quebecer wishes to share what she has experienced in the hope of inspiring others to think before embarking on a slippery slope.

The experience, she says, called into question his priorities, he who dreamed nothing more or less, from the bottom of his cell, of cutting vegetables with his mother.

“I see friends who complain about certain things sometimes that are so not serious. Already sent from [leur] Lend my glasses. I had a break and it was a good break,” she says.


The ex-convict's family was waiting for her with flowers at the airport on May 30, 2021.

Photo courtesy, Mélina Roberge

The ex-convict’s family was waiting for her with flowers at the airport on May 30, 2021.

NO PITY

The young woman says she seeks neither pity nor redemption, portraying herself ungracefully many times in the book.

And hammers it to anyone who will listen: she is the only one responsible for his long stay in prison. It is for the sake of transparency that she questions the context behind her bad decisions.

However, some details remain unclear after reading the book: How was Mélina Roberge offered to take part in the drug importation operation? How did the drugs end up on the boat? Who are the people behind the plot?

To these questions, the ex-convict refrained from giving answers for security reasons: he affirms that certain information could endanger his life or that of his relatives.

The authors thus chose to remain vague with some necessary, in particular by giving assumed names to the important actors of the criminal conspiracy to facilitate the reading. For example, two of them are called “Banker” and “Jeweller”.

“It was an easier way to identify them, a wink. The Jeweler loved jewelry and had given him a watch”, summarizes Claudia Berthiaume, unable to say more.


Mélina Roberge has a puppy alongside other inmates in her forest green uniform, in Berrima, just over a year before the end of her sentence.  A library worker had been given permission to bring a litter of puppies to the prison.

Photo Courtesy, Mélina Roberge

Mélina Roberge has a puppy alongside other inmates in her forest green uniform, in Berrima, just over a year before the end of her sentence. A library worker had been given permission to bring a litter of puppies to the prison.

SHE FIGHTS DEMONS

At the bend, the 240-page book tackles the youth of Mélina Roberge, from the separation of her parents to her overweight adolescence which caused her eating disorders and a significant lack of self-confidence.

She’s still fighting her demons today, trust her.

“There are so many people who have the same problem and we don’t know it. That’s why I wanted to touch on many aspects of my life and go beyond who offered me what, when, how in the book, ”says the 29-year-old young woman.

Now the ex-con wishes to move on so she can move on in life beyond the crime for the fanl she paid.

However, she does not close the door on giving lectures in schools to reiterate her dissuasive message.


The young woman suffered sometimes from being overweight and sometimes from anorexia in adolescence, so much so that she developed eating disorders and problems of self-confidence.

Photo Courtesy Mélina Roberge

The young woman suffered sometimes from being overweight and sometimes from anorexia in adolescence, so much so that she developed eating disorders and problems of self-confidence.


The young woman suffered sometimes from being overweight and sometimes from anorexia in adolescence, so much so that she developed eating disorders and problems of self-confidence.

Photo Courtesy Mélina Roberge

The young woman suffered sometimes from being overweight and sometimes from anorexia in adolescence, so much so that she developed eating disorders and problems of self-confidence.

  • Listen to the interview with Mélina Roberge on Sophie Durocher’s show broadcast live every day at 3:18 p.m. via QUB radio:

A book despite prejudices

The two women behind the book without filter had to approve before telling an extraordinary story

behind the writing of without filter hide two girls who had big prejudices towards each other. Journalist Claudia Berthiaume grants the ex-convict confidence in claiming to faithfully represent the story and soak up its language.

The amazing duo met in a hair salon, where the ex-mule, Mélina Roberge, made an appointment with Claudia Berthiaume, does not know that she worked for The Journal of Montreal. With the reporter sensing the story’s potential, she hoped to easily make first contact and see where the cell might lead.

It was once with his head in the sink that the investigative journalist confessed his profession to him, under the wide eyes of the hairdresser.

“Maybe if you had said it before, I wouldn’t have wanted to do your hair, though.” [Claudia] was super respectful”, laughs Mélina Roberge while sipping her iced coffee next to Claudia Berthiaume in a small restaurant in Quartier Dix30, in Brossard.

One thing leading to another, the idea of ​​writing a book germinated in the head of the ex-convict, who contacted her new client herself to discuss it.


Mélina Roberge and Claudia Berthiaume at the launch of the book “Without filter”.

Photo Martin Alarie

Mélina Roberge and Claudia Berthiaume at the launch of the book “Without filter”.

TWO WEEKS IN AN AIRBNB

Plus it was far from won. Mélina Roberge did not have a good impression of journalists who did not portray her to her advantage – with good reason – she admits.

“I’m pretty reserved about my personal life, I’m good enough to open up about my whole life. I thought we would need two intensive weeks to learn how to [nous] know’, explain to him.

The two women have rented an Airbnb in Montreal to live together for two weeks. They quickly realized that they weren’t that different from each other.

“From the outside, I don’t know at all. You leave with a prejudice. […] I wouldn’t have made a decision like her [participer à un complot d’importation de drogue], more on all the same about the common points that make us get along well. It allowed him to open up. There are things that took her time, ”reports Claudia.

INFLATABLE MATTE AND COFFEE

The weekly meetings then continued for several months, during which Mélina Roberge came from Granby for the weekend and slept on an inflatable mattress at the journalist’s house. The two women shared suppers and breakfasts. Gradually, Mélina began to let her guard down, confident in the anecdotes and details that color the story.

“At the beginning, she paid more attention to me directly what she did not want us to write. I told her that she had to explain it so that I understood, more than everything was not going to end in the book, ”specifies the journalist.

For security reasons, the authors have taken the decision not to publish certain details, such as the names of people involved in the importation of drugs.

During the sessions, Claudia confronts the repentant criminal and regularly questions what she understands, to ensure the veracity of the account. But in the end, “it’s her story, her point of view”, even if Mélina is far from putting herself to her advantage in what she tells about her life.

“Often you send them from the brewer, to tell him: are you serious?”, explains Claudia Berthiaume.

AUTHENTICITY

And to add a good dose of authenticity, the author adapted with her pen to the language and humor of her subject, who categorically refused to see the word “selfie” in her book.

“I wanted that when you read, you have the impression that it is me who speaks. She used perfect beautiful words, but selfies are selfies in 2022”, defended the former prisoner with a laugh.

By force of circumstances, the two authors have become good friends: a complicity that has brought a lot of naturalness and transparency between the lines.

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