A city for people from elsewhere

I was talking with a friend the other day who was worried about her accent. Being from a middle-eastern country, she was concerned that people might not take her seriously, or might secretly mock her voice. I think Montreal has to be the last place in Canada to worry about that.

For starters, half the born Canadians in the province already have an accent (that’s us anglos), and the city is so cosmopolitan. Being from the West coast, I really notice a demographic change coming out here.

Ridiculously, it threw me for a complete loop the first time I heard a Chinese woman ordering her lunch in an impeccable Québecois accent.

The African and Middle Eastern populations are much more prominent in Montreal than say, Vancouver or Victoria (why does the West coast like the letter V so much anyways?), and the city itself has a much more European feel with the Latin Quarter’s cinemas, and the pervasive French-style café culture. There are also sizeable contributions from ethicities well-represented in the West as well; Chinese, Indian, Southeast Asian, Korean and Japanese residents are all part of the daily procession on Montreal’s streets.

The cosmopolitan atmosphere resulting from this mix is one of my favorite things about this city. In the fall I was getting off the metro at station Mont-Royal and two girls were greeting each other in Wolof!

Picking out the commonalities and differences between such geographically and culturally different groups is a sort of microscope on the human condition.

A very wise man once told me that fully half of the pleasure of life comes from meeting interesting people. I don’t know; it seems to me that could be an underestimate. For me, becoming familiar with other cultures is an indespensible part of life. It’s my fondest wish that my degree will facilitate making this a lifelong pursuit.

New languages also fascinate me completely; the way some words just have no equal in other tongues, and the richness of the reward when your mind finally grapples its way to truly understanding this previously hidden concept. If only our lives were long enough to learn them all…

One thought on “A city for people from elsewhere

  1. I too am from abroad and I have a note about accents. Very often people will hear my accent, and make an assumption about where I am from, the kind of things I do or even the kind of food I eat.
    My reaction has tended to range from amused to even mildly offended.


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