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)

Canada: a Botched Mosaic (Part 1)

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.

Montreal mosque entrance
The entrance of a mosque in Montreal, Canada. The name has been removed. Photo by Mark Homsany

It’s almost 11 pm. I’ve just gotten off the bus and I’m walking back to my apartment after a long day at work. There is a light breeze blowing. Some men in white tunics sporting long beards are gathering by a street corner. Some women on the other side of the street covered from head to toe were walking side by side and chatting. Then, I hear it reverberating through the night sky:

Read moreCanada: a Botched Mosaic (Part 1)

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