I have known many geographic latitudes and multicultural societies, starting with my island of origin. I come from a land of mixed races and cultures, Reunion Island. For me, diversity is natural. I always felt a little cramped, uncomfortable, in mono-cultural societies. I have explored different lands, always looking for a balance in post-colonial societies, in eminently pluralistic societies born of pain but of infinite richness.
In a very humble way, I am a bit of an explorer. Like many others, I have surfed the wave of visas for young people that allowed me to discover new countries, the famous working holiday visa. I’ve always liked to look at maps, to follow the contours and the borders as one would appreciate a sculpture.
The colour chart of Nature
I have only been here for a few months, but I’m noticing a thousand nuances. I had been warned about the rain, but I’m finding much more than a drizzle, or a drip-drop. I‘m also discovering a very artistic city, with a wide palette of colours, of shadings and pastels, of big skies, all the greens, all the blues, all the reds, oranges and yellows and especially all greys. Each colour is itself broken down into several more, like a rainbow that appears when the light passes through raindrops.
It was the breath of love that filled my sail and led me here. I followed my man and here I am at the gates of the Pacific once again. I met him on the other side, in Australia, and I’m coming back to gravitate around him, with the same objective, that of finding peace.
“Van”, for those in the know, is an odd painting. Strangely, pastels and greys blaze in the sky. But everything calms down, as a Vancouverite told me, at dusk. As if, after a hectic day, everything merges into these peach tones, into this golden light that we see on the North Shore, reflecting in the windows.
I’ve experienced other cities and although it is pleasant to be lulled by first impressions, I always wanted to discover the other face of the place, the beauty of everyday life, the unsuspected elegance of routine, the magnified mundaneness of a place. How to tire of a trip on the SeaBus when the journey will never be the same? Of course, like everyone else, it will take time to penetrate the heart, to know the secrets, to grasp the guts, to define the personality and finally, to understand the soul of this place.
The contrasts of humanity
Nature offers a complete range of colours. On the other hand, in town, the palette is reduced to primary colours; those of the signs, always blue and/or red and/or yellow. These colours are so frank and brutal, as if in opposition to Nature, a particularly human, if not social form of violence.
The contrast is chromic but also economical.
Something that hit me hard when I arrived in Vancouver: the aimless wanderers. The haggard eyes of the poor, the delusions of the hallucinated, the despair of poverty and mental insecurity. In addition, the passage from light to shade takes place in the snap of a finger, at the very corner of the street. Obviously, I always reflect on the root of these evils. Who can get used to the brutality of the gap between rich, very rich and poor in such a developed country?
Vancouver’s mission is to celebrate diversity and difference with respect used as cement. There is also an interesting range of people, nationalities, languages heard, signs written in cryptic alphabets on the street. Vancouver’s reputation as an international capital for learning English had been mentioned to me, but Vancouver is pleasantly more cosmopolitan than the brochures.
What I really found interesting in Vancouver during these first observations concerns the Francophonie. It’s a concept that has always appealed to me, that I have studied, that I like to explore, but so far, it has been difficult for me to find a concrete application, a balance between languages. Vancouver seems to me to be fertile ground for the development of the latter, the hope of a blossoming, as evidenced by the writing of this piece in a bilingual newspaper.
Translation by Barry Brisebois