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  • Writer's pictureCamille Lalonde

Becoming Canadian

Okay, most of you will read this title and be confused. I am not trying to invent a new life. I wasn’t born somewhere exciting like the Côte d’Azur but I wish. I mean, I could pretend. Fake an accent,... But what would I get out of it. I was born in Montreal. And yes, for all I know, Montreal is in Canada haha (no political debate here, PLEASE!!!) The reality is that Montreal is different from the rest of the country. Some people call it the Europe of Canada, but I wouldn’t push it (nobody eats dinner at 17h00 in Paris.) I always had a touch of Canada in my life. On Sunday mornings, my mother would make crêpes. There would always be maple syrup (the real deal not the corn syrup thing) on the table. But I’m not sure if it was a decoration since I don’t recall any of us using it. I preferred my crêpes with butter and brown sugar. They really tried to make me Canadian but like I said I am from the south of France haha. Some Sundays, my favourite ones, my parents would make croissants. They would let them rise overnight and cook them fresh in the morning. There's nothing like eating a hot croissant with melting butter and jam. On the best Sundays, if I was very lucky, we would go to this small french bakery where they would recognise my dad and I (we were in charge of picking up the croissants.) They always had our personal favourites: butter croissants for my parents, Amandine (almond croissant) for myself and a pain au chocolat for my brother.

On weekdays, while all my friends were meeting up to play after dinner, we would start eating dinner at 20h30. For lunch at school my parents would give me a piece of baguette with a separate container of salami and cheese while all my friends were eating lukewarm shepards pie in a thermos (no complaints here, my personal cheese platter made a lot of jealous kids.) I mean, I could go on and on about food because that’s the biggest culture shock I experienced when moving to Toronto. In Montreal, I was different. But in Toronto, at times, I feel like a foreigner in my own country. This week again, I couldn’t find a hot baguette in the grocery store but only stale ones for 3,99 dollars. What a crime!?!?! So, I am experiencing this ‘’Canadian life’’ more so now since in the past 8 years I was rarely here. It hadn’t hit me, just yet.

I didn’t know what belonging felt like until I started travelling. Being a citizen of planet earth is way more my thing. It’s like I picked up some cultural traditions everywhere I went and created my own. I admire different cultures and one isn’t enough for me. As I try to fit in somewhere I realise I can’t and I think this would be an issue anywhere I went. Sometimes people think I am a snob because I’ll make a ‘’real’’ chai tea at night, or say that the food isn’t authentic in a restaurant and so on… Because I have yet to taste a ‘’real’’ authentic greek salad in Toronto; THERE IS NO LETTUCE, I REPEAT: NOOOOO LETTUCE PLEASE. As you can see, food really makes a culture for me haha!

Yesterday was Canadian thanksgiving. Most of you will be utterly confused that it was my first Canadian Thanksgiving. I mean it was always a day off on my watch but never something celebrated. In Montreal we call it ‘’Action de grâce’’ and maybe in the social media era people are now celebrating it there but, when I was a kid, nobody did. We would go to my grandparents’ house like every other sunday evening. I have experienced American Thanksgiving numerous times but never realised how big it was in Canada as well. People make turkeys? I thought that was a Christmas thing here. Again most of you must be astonished since, yes, I have technically lived here for 8 years but I was away for each and every holiday and I didn’t mind it. I came to like to be different. Something I hated as a kid is now an art I have mastered. Now that I am here full time I am having a taste of real Canadian living. OMG, they are rubbing off on me. I catch myself saying sorry way too often, I follow the rules, I cross the streets when I am supposed to, I eat Cheez Whiz (my mom wouldn’t be proud of that one), I wear the Canadian tuxedo (found that one out recently, Jean on Jean fashion) and ‘’EH’’ is my new filler word… But ordering a coffee to go at the local Tim Hortons still isn’t my thing. Sitting down at a coffee shop for hours is a personal pleasure (even though as a kid I hated when my parents did this.)

The real question is: am I becoming Canadian?



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