I am from Québec City and the decisive moment to throw it all out the window and start anew in the West came about rather suddenly. The original intention of moving to the West Coast went through a maturation process of about six months before a decision was made. The call of the peaks grew stronger than my desire to stay put, comfortable in my routine. I left the province of Québec August 1st, 2015, in my car. Looking for a Zen way of life and a head full of projects, I drove across Canada and came to rest in British Columbia.
The question “why” raises its head as often as do polite exchanges here. A year on and, although well integrated, I still find it difficult to answer that question. People generally have dozens of pretty good reasons as to why they’ve made Metro Vancouver their home. But why should the question “why” recur? Isn’t wanting something more out of life reason enough without having to justify it? I would rather my answer to that question be “and why not?”
Québec City is wonderful –
its historical side and the kindness of its people make it a prized destination for tourists from all over the world. Almost everybody speaks French there, and everyone feels at home. And for that very reason, when I first arrived in Vancouver, I was a bit nervous about being able to integrate into a city known for its multiculturalism. Would I ever be able to feel at home here?
For starters, I found employment in the francophone milieu, which enabled me to feel more secure, at least as far as language goes. I learned English at school, but I must confess that once I moved here, I found it a bit painful to have to converse in English every time I stepped outside. By painful I mean that for a 35 year old to express herself in a second language was a daily challenge. At first I would systematically apologize to my interlocutors for having an accent, making sure to let them know that English was not my mother tongue. But I soon realized that pretty well everybody has an accent here! Why apologize at all? So I learned to be proud of my Québecois accent, which invariably betrays my speech.
Vancouver allows us to be surrounded by many cultures without having the feeling that your own is being disregarded. I love to walk up and down grocery store aisles, where colours, aromas and imported foods mingle. The city also has on offer a myriad of festivals and cultural events aimed at regrouping their respective members and allowing them to feel at home. No one has ever had to twist my arm to participate in Maillardville’s Festival du Bois, which is an almost perfect replica of the cabanes à sucre (sugar shacks) typically found in Québec, with its maple taffy and familiar folk singers. Strange how simply speaking in French and wearing a checkered shirt can be so comforting.
Of note is the way one embraces a healthier lifestyle here, so dear to a majority of Vancouverites. It’s when I discovered I had a sudden urge for a yoga session and a bite of tofu that I realized that the city was starting to take hold of me, and not the other way around, to the point that I couldn’t wait to get back home after my summer vacation. Because you see, home is here for me now.