Thursday, March 22, 2012

On Quebec

A few months ago - well into my stay in Montreal - I had an epiphany about Quebec: it exists, and a lot of people live here. In fact, 7.5 million people live here, which is 23% of the population of Canada, according to Wolfram|Alpha.

If you are/were like me (from Saskatchewan, and you've never lived out of province) your view of Canada is probably West-centric: you know a lot about BC and Alberta, a lot about the Centre of the Universe (Toronto), you hear rumblings about Ottawa, you know when the Red River in Manitoba floods, and you've heard of the Atlantic provinces. Of course I'm exaggerating, but in your daily thoughts about Canada-wide issues you probably forget Quebecers represent nearly 1 in 4 Canadians.

I don't pretend to understand all of the social, political, language and cultural issues that make Quebec unique. In fact, even by living in mostly-bilingual Montreal I am blind to a lot of issues that face Francophone Quebec. However, living here for the past year has made me recognize and appreciate what Quebec adds to Canada.

It's hard to explain this feeling. I suppose people who move to other countries experience the same thing, absorbing customs, language and culture. I think it's neat that we can have this experience within Canada, and I think there should be more opportunities for Canada to learn from Quebec and vice-versa, in areas like arts, culture, politics and social issues.

After this year I am not sure whether I'll ever live in Quebec again. But aside from the long-distance relationships, living here has been a great experience that's helped expand my definition of "Canadians".

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