I arrived in Vancouver in October 2018. Montréal had been the first city to welcome me on Canadian soil, and I stayed there almost three years during which time I felt as if I was in a small cocoon, in an easy routine surrounded by French speakers. In the meantime, I returned to France to rediscover my roots within my family and my native Brittany. Afterwards, returning to live in Canada was a difficult choice. To confront a new culture a second time, and this time to face another language, is very difficult, requires a lot of energy and a strong capacity for adaptation. But I wanted to get out of my comfort zone again and discover life as a linguistic minority.
For this new beginning, I dreamed of entrepreneurship, independence and building on my strong point –
French. Disillusion quickly set in, probably because I was not prepared. Discovering a new city, a new culture and having to use English every day is already quite demanding. To impose a new way of working on one’s self, while being the only master on board, is just as hard.
During my travels in British Columbia, from Denman Island to Haida Gwaii, passing through Vancouver Island, I met people with multiple lives, driven by the need to be themselves without being defined by a diploma. This is also true of Vancouver, a city that gives everyone a chance to build a life tailored to their needs.
In the end, it turned out to be an opportunity to be part of a minority in Vancouver. Everyone knows and helps each other. Arriving in this metropolis, I discovered a supportive, dynamic and deeply rooted network of francophones. So many meetings and such sharing! Networking, whether in the French-speaking world or according to your interests, has inspired a healthy emulation in me. What can a francophone contribute to other Vancouverites or to other francophones? What can I, as a francophone, bring to my linguistic community? Finally, to belong to the Francophone community is also to be recognized and to no longer be a mere number among all the others.
After putting aside my entrepreneurial desires, fate brought me a job in a domain from an old childhood dream that remained near the surface. The opportunity to be ever more involved in the francophone world makes me realise that in Vancouver work can be found anywhere and that it allows us, sometimes, to take parallel paths to better find ourselves.
What I want from my experience in Vancouver is to be bold, to renew myself, to change my profession, my life and desires a thousand times and to feel useful to others.
Vancouver is a city of adaptation in full development that is rich in all these cultures and languages. The city is also enriched by many centuries of immigration, by people who dared to leave a life that did not satisfy them for different reasons, and who, in order to cope, have given themselves the means to surpass themselves. Just like Vancouver, I am in full development. I am looking for my identity – the one that will make me say “I am me, in my place.”
Having left with entrepreneurial dreams, I was beset with disillusionment. The difficulties of being a minority, and having a more or less functioning knowledge of English, got the better of those dreams. But in the meantime, Vancouver allowed me to realise many of my childhood dreams including that of becoming a journalist. Vancouver is the place where all is possible.
Translation by Barry Brisebois