Born and raised in Egypt, Mohamed Amin was excited to come to Canada 1.5 years ago to begin his life with wife Camilla. Weighing his options, Canada seemed to be the best fit for his life and family. Mohamed decided that Quebec would be the province he would settle into. His wife had convinced him that Canada was a place where freedom of choice and liberty were paramount.
too long after Mohamed began his life in Montreal, he quickly got a
sense that something was very wrong. From being ignored by the bus drivers,
to being talked down to by the metro workers and store clerks, he began to feel that
speaking English in Montreal was not going to be an option.
then enrolled in French courses offered by the government and was put
into level two French. Mohammed struggled through the course as the
teacher was unable to speak to him in English to facilitate his
learning. When he asked for explanations in English, the teacher
promptly told him, “On est au Québec, on parle français.”
the way, Mohamed was reminded of this very fact over and over again.
Mohamed remarked, “It started to feel like the teachers took a course on
how to repeat this same sentence over and over again as if to brainwash
us new immigrants. I have heard it too many times to count.”
Recently his experience took a turn for the worse at the SAAQ (Société de l'assurance automobile
du Québec), located at 6900 Décarie, in Côte St. Luc, QC, when
transferring a vehicle license. After having waited for their number to
be called up, his wife Camilla approached the attendant and first spoke
to them in English. The attendant replied back to her in French. The
couple made their best efforts to understand the contract and fine print
legalities in French. When asked to have one part explained in English,
they heard “the famous line” yet again, “Ici on est au Québec, on parle
confused Mohamed asked why he couldn’t get services in both official
languages as he had understood when accepting his Canadian citizenship.
At this point the SAAQ attendant pressed the NEXT button ignoring
Mohamed completely and failing to provide the service his tax dollars
to Mohamed, this experience left him feeling humiliated in front of his
wife and daughter. It disappointed and ruined his day. He could not
believe what had happened to him and reflected on all the experiences of
discrimination he had endured this past year and a half in what he
would describe as “A culture of hate.”
told us, “I feel that in Quebec, the only way you can feel normal or
fit in is if your first language is French. That is the only way to feel
normal, if your first language is not French you are made to feel like
an outcast. When I am repeatedly told I must speak french because I am in Quebec, it’s as if I am being told we serve only whites here. I cannot believe this is happening in 2013 and in a free country like Canada.
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