This post was inspired by a conversation I had recently with Lady Of The Cakes. She was aware that Canada had 2 official languages – French and English – but it hadn’t occurred to her that there are Canadians who don’t speak any English at all.
Most people are aware that the province of Quebec is French-speaking, but some might not be aware that there are areas in the province which are French only. My in-laws, as well as our dearest friends in Quebec City, fall in that category.
This started me thinking about the multi-culturalism found in Toronto. While officially an English-speaking city, depending on where you are in the city, it is highly likely you could hear anything but english. My neighbourhood is one of those.
The area of Toronto I call home is Scarborough-Agincount. According to Wikipedia, over 2/3 of Agincourt is comprised of immigrants – the highest for any Canadian federal riding. The ethnicity of Agincourt based on 2011 data is:
Chinese – 46.8%
South Asian – 14.5%
White – 20.9%
Other – 17.9%
In other words, in my neighbourhood, I am a visible minority. At 5 foot 4 inches tall, most of the time I feel like a freaking giant …. but every once in a while I get a reality check – like this summer in Germany – when my mental image of myself is knocked down to size.
I thought it might be fun to take you on a tour of my neighbourhood. The vast majority of immigrants in Agincourt come from the People’s Republic of China. This is reflected in virtually every aspect of life in the community.
The local newspaper ….
Neighbourhood churches …
Store window advertisements ….
Parking signs ….
… and the local grocery stores ….
Normally I do all my shopping outside of my neighbourhood, but occasionally I have a need to drop into the nearby grocery store. Each time is a reminder of how foreign I am in this community. I discovered one day that with the exception of the cashiers, the store staff did not speak any English to help me find a common product in a sea of unfamiliar items.
False Elephant’s Snout anyone? … but what I really wanted were grape tomatoes.
In case you’re wondering, apparently false elephant’s snout is a type of sea snail … and I have no idea why it comes from Mexico.
Taking the photos for this post was an odd experience. Unlike situations where I could usually blend in – even as a tourist – today I felt exposed and stared at as a curiosity and even a potential threat.
Life as a visible minority can be an uncomfortable one, regardless of where you are.