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Canada: A Botched Mosaic (Part 6)

Editor’s note: This story about Canadian multiculturalism was originally a single 3,600 word article meant for a British magazine. I decided to turn it into a mini-series. It tells the story of Peter, a Lebanese-Canadian youth and his experience of Canadian multiculturalism. He meets different people through his life who influence his thoughts. Although this tale contains many true elements and anecdotes, it is a work of fiction. Read part 1 here, 2 here, part 3 here, part 4 here, and part 5 here

I finally get to the door of my apartment building. What a day! I had come across Didier, Saulo and Saeeda on my way back home. I hadn’t seen them in five years.

Didier complained a lot a year after I had originally met him. Now, he complains about the same things, but this time, even more. He complained about how white Canadians are cold and wary of black people. He complained about how he, a holder of a Master’s degree, could only find small part time jobs such as grocery store clerk or delivery boy. He complained about political corruption. He complained about

A Botched Mosaic

how hard it was to get Canadian citizenship. He complained about Canadian winter. He complained…and complained… But did he consider leaving Canada? No.

Saulo and I crossed paths in a metro[1] station. He was doing all right. Although he had to work some menial jobs to support his wife, he finally got a job as a programmer. His wife also gave birth to a baby girl. He was ambivalent about the fact that his daughter was born Canadian but he tried hard to look happy about it. He hasn’t been back to Brazil and doesn’t plan on returning. He said, with a bit of disappointment, that he doesn’t feel Brazilian anymore and that he doesn’t feel Canada is home. With the same disappointed tone, he said he had it good here in Montreal.

Read moreCanada: A Botched Mosaic (Part 6)

Canada: A Botched Mosaic (part 5)

Editor’s note: This story about Canadian multiculturalism was originally a single 3,600 word article meant for a British magazine. I decided to turn it into a mini-series. It tells the story of Peter, a Lebanese-Canadian youth and his experience of Canadian multiculturalism. He meets different people through his life who influence his thoughts. Although this tale contains many true elements and anecdotes, it is a work of fiction. Read part 1 here, 2 here, part 3 here, and part 4 here.  

The Brazilians were very friendly. They easily opened their hearts to people who took a sincere interest

Flag of Brazil
Flag of Brazil

in Brazilian culture and the Portuguese language. Because I knew some Spanish, I could understand some of their conversations and I would try to answer them in Portuguese. Although I did plenty of mistakes, the Brazilians were very happy to correct me. They also taught me about their literature, their customs and even taught me some dirty jokes in Portuguese[1]. One of the Brazilians, Saulo, was very interested in learning French and kept asking me to explain to him some French words and French grammar. I recall one of our conversations:

Read moreCanada: A Botched Mosaic (part 5)

Canada: A Botched Mosaic (part 4)

Editor’s note: This story about Canadian multiculturalism was originally a single 3,600 word article meant for a British magazine. I decided to turn it into a mini-series. It tells the story of Peter, a Lebanese-Canadian youth and his experience of Canadian multiculturalism. He meets different people through his life who influence his thoughts. Although this tale contains many true elements and anecdotes, it is a work of fiction. Read part 1 here, 2 here, and part 3 here

When I was still in CEGEP[1], some eight years ago, I used to work in a call centre. Those who worked

Papa Wemba
Papa Wemba is an example of an African (Congolese) singer who found success in France. He is idolized by Africans for doing so. Photo by Radio Okapi

there were either students who needed a part-time job, recent immigrants whose experience in their home country was deemed inadequate just because it wasn’t Canadian experience, and strange characters you wished you’d never known. Most of the time, I sat with a group of Brazilians, a Senegalese youth named Didier, and a Pakistani Muslim woman named Saeeda. There were very few French-Canadians and Anglo-Canadians. One of the supervisors, a male French-Canadian student, once walked into the office and said after having looked at all the employees “Holy Shit! I’m the only white person in this room!” Because of my

Read moreCanada: A Botched Mosaic (part 4)

Canada: a Botched Mosaic (part 3)

Editor’s note: This story about Canadian multiculturalism was originally a single 3,600 word article meant for a British magazine. I decided to turn it into a mini-series. It tells the story of Peter, a Lebanese-Canadian youth and his experience of Canadian multiculturalism. He meets different people through his life who influence his thoughts. Although this tale contains many true elements and anecdotes, it is a work of fiction. Read part 1 here and 2 here.

I remember a conversation I once had with three good friends of mine at one of their apartments some two years ago. We were debating politics.

“Quebec should separate!” said Jean-Philippe.

Racists everywhere

“Canada is just a bunch of provinces spliced together.” said Sarah.

Read moreCanada: a Botched Mosaic (part 3)

Canada: a Botched Mosaic (part 2)

Editor’s note: This story about Canadian multiculturalism was originally a single 3,600 word article meant for a British magazine. I decided to turn it into a mini-series. It tells the story of Peter, a Lebanese-Canadian youth and his experience of Canadian multiculturalism. He meets different people through his life who influence his thoughts. Although this tale contains many true elements and anecdotes, it is a work of fiction. Read part 1 here.

Some two or three years ago, I was an intern at Canadian Topics magazine. I proofread scholarly articles about immigration there. I was working with recent graduates and postgraduates. I was proofreading some article about low fertility rates among Chinese-Canadian women. I wasn’t sure about what was meant by fertility so I asked a co-worker, Courtney:

Chinese head tax receipt.
Chinese head tax receipt.

“- Courtney, in social sciences, does fertility only refer to the ability to reproduce?

Read moreCanada: a Botched Mosaic (part 2)

Native Comeback

Native peoples in Canada are portrayed as tragedies in the media. We get one story about the residential schools, one story about missing women, another story about how their cultural traditions are being destroyed… It seems as though they are bound for misery.

Not at all. Some communities are blooming. Native youths are resisting. Elderly Aboriginals are smiling at them.

Read moreNative Comeback

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