November 16, 2002- "Joey Jeremiah" of the original Degrassi series and its offspring, Degrassi: The

Pat Mastroianni

Angela Forgeron
National Post

Saturday, November 16, 2002

“Joey Jeremiah” of the original Degrassi series and its offspring, Degrassi: The Next Generation, talks about his travel adventures.


When I was 18 I was asked by Peter Gzowski to go to his Arctic golf tournament, a fundraiser for Native literacy. He brought his celebrity friends and guests he had had on his show. I went with Cynthia Dale, Colin James and authors and athletes from southern Canada. We were also there to help motivate the young people to be leaders in their community and to fight for the education they deserve. The snow was plowed from a nine-hole golf course and we used neon-coloured balls to play golf in the Arctic. I tried to live the lifestyle during the time I was there. I was eating raw whale blubber — I am a big fan of raw oysters so I had to think of it as a big oyster — and I scarfed it down because that’s respect to them. I also ate caribou and raw fish and I didn’t mind it at all.


When my family first arrived in this country from Italy, they immigrated through Pier 21. When I first visited Halifax I was really moved by that because I thought, ‘Wow, this was my parents’ first impression of Canada when they landed by boat.’ I thought what an amazing journey for them to pack up and leave everything behind that was familiar and go to a country where they could barely speak the language, not knowing what they were going to do when they got here. To make a life for themselves and to be able to support themselves was an incredible accomplishment.


I was sick on the train ride from Milan to southern Calabria. It was a 16-hour train ride and I had to sleep in the luggage compartment. There were about eight people to a cabin, it was like a scene you would see in a movie when everybody is crammed in together. My dad put a piece of luggage up in the rack and then put me up beside it. I have a picture of myself in this luggage rack at the age of 12. I was not feeling very good. It was very humid and I was dying of thirst and hunger. We would pull into a train station and we would see a vendor selling something and you would have to lean out the window to get it — and all they had was Brio, an Italian soft drink. It was a torturous 16-hours but we had to do it. You could smoke back then on the train and that was pretty nasty because being on the top rack with the luggage, all of the smoke would rise. I remember feeling like a piece of luggage.


On our honeymoon last year, my wife, Carmela, and I went to the Mayan Riviera. One of my favourite things about being in Mexico is that you get to haggle and I love haggling, more than acting. I love to feel like I got a better deal than the next guy. My wife was like, ‘You know what, Pat, you’ve been training your whole life for this.’ They would ask for $100 for an item and I would offer $40. And they would ask for $80 and I’d give them $50. When you are dealing with the locals they know you are there to spend money and they look for you. They will call you over and say, ‘My friend, come here, I give you good deal, good deal just for you.’ And I smile because I’m like, ‘Alright, let’s get it on,’ because you have a number in your head that you are willing to pay for a souvenir, and they obviously are going to try to get the most out of you. I’ll pretend to walk away and he’ll chase after me and give me my price. You have a sense of victory.


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