Views from Here: Unpredictable
Published on March 20, 2023
Views from Here is a youth guest blog series featuring voices from youth from our COM-Unity partner organizations. In the series, English-speaking youth share what it means to them to find— and sometimes struggle for— a sense of belonging in Quebec.
by Jessica Williams-Daley
That is how I would describe my experience as a 20 year old Black woman in Quebec. One minute I am basking in the multicultural streets of downtown, visiting La Grande Roue de Montréal and shopping on Rue Sainte-Catherine, feeling appreciated and valued, and the next, police brutality, racial profiling and overt racism against people of colour.
I still don’t have the answers. I still cannot even fathom why or how the physical characteristics (the nose, the hair, the skin colour…) of an individual can become the catalyst for injustice, violence, pain and suffering.
Are They Weapons?
No. Yet the fear they oddly produce is troubling. Why do neutral stimuli like hoodies form a conditioned response of fear when paired with Black men? Why are weapons being pulled on young racialized children, who pose no threat?
Prejudice, Stereotyping and Racism
Preconceived notions of People of Colour (POC), which are often in a negative light, enforce negative behaviours upon them. The media’s skewed reporting methods, or even films reinforcing gang stereotypes are all ways in which outsiders (who may share little to no contact with POC) perceive them.
Well, I often find it quite refreshing to hear the sweet sounds of the assorted languages we have here in Quebec. Whether it be Mandarin, Spanish, Dutch, the vastness of these languages indicate to me a sign of diversity that enhances the nation. But it seems to me that the Quebec government only views this enhancement if it centers around business opportunity, with French being at its epicenter.
Yes, language is another threat here in Quebec, in which French is deemed as its victim. However in reality, the English language is being subdued and chastised purposely which forces many out of jobs, or even reduces their confidence in getting one. Even in terms of education, language is a factor affecting such. Why must a natural decline in one language equate to the right to purposely decline another? Again, I do not know, but for Anglophones living in Montreal, it is certainly a deal breaker that may impact whether they choose to stay or leave.
But is Everything Negative?
No. I have had many great days in Quebec, in fact most of my life has been filled with great days. But it is very hard to see myself striving in society, when I know that many others have it much more difficult than me.
What Should WE Do?
We should strive to subvert the false messages we see in the media, and forge opinions based on our own lived experiences. This would therefore result in more realistic views of those we encounter, and may aid in resolving conflicts.
So What Is it Like Being a Person of Colour in Quebec?
I may describe it as being in a world where so much is being said, and nothing is actually changing. Words can only go so far, but definite action is what gets us further. The unpredictable nature of whether your day could be good or bad, dependent on how others may perceive you is downright scary, and may increase self-consciousness to a high level. Daily stressors may forge mental illness, which is already greatly disproportionate in people of colour. Let us all learn more about each other, embrace our differences, and progress together in a world of diverse and vibrant hues, shapes and sizes.
That is my dream for Quebec
About the author:
Jessica Williams-Daley is a writer, poet and psychology student aiming to shed light on the lived experiences of people of colour to a broad audience. She strives for a world in which our differences are what make us united.