Contributed by Javier Pérez Mandujano – Currently studying French at ILSC Montreal.
When you consider human beings see in colour, while some animals see in black and white, it is hard to believe how at times humans don’t listen, and behave inconsiderately toward one another, or see life in black and white terms. I believe animals, such as pets, are more gifted in terms of showing love, compassion, respect and loyalty in their monochromatic world. I use this reference to colour to help describe how my first few months in Montreal have been “colourful” in a way that I have found myself deeply impressed, in terms of colour symbolizing values of inclusiveness and tolerance.
My first days early this spring, walking downtown, through Old Montreal, through Gay Village, through Little Italy, through the lively neighbourhoods, revealed a city that looks very open-minded, with freedom from religious oppression and racism. What is it these open-minded Montrealers are thinking about and feeling, as they walk, shop, live and love? Perhaps I should just ask them. But at this point, it is clear in my mind that the locals have a casual attitude with respect to diversity, not just with respect to sexual preferences, but with respect to any obvious difference in the public eye.
It seems that no matter what the colour of your skin is, no matter what article of faith hangs from around your neck, no matter whether or not your hair is covered with fabric, the fact of being different is acceptable in Montreal. Montreal is a truly cosmopolitan city. There appears to be a special mix of traditions between the smoked meat and bagels. This past winter just didn’t seem to want to end, as if all that white and cold was conspiring against Montreal’s colourful personality. But through all that was once white and cold, and is now green and warm, I have noticed a quiet atmosphere of mutual respect, understanding and support. I just cannot believe how peaceful the people of Montreal are, even during difficult times of political and social tension, like those we saw during the recent Quebec elections.
Yes, every morning I struggle with French and the métro, but I still perceive acceptance from these strangers around me. I sense a silent approval of my presence, and an unspoken desire of everyone to live together well, reflecting the full colour of life. In the coming year I hope to discover more colours and different textures that shape this unique metropolis, which I have discovered is a place full of creative, artistic, friendly and certainly charming people.
Javier’s article has been published today in The Gazette: http://www.montrealgazette.com/Opinion+Montreal+open+minded+inclusive+tolerant/9964075/story.html Javier will also be interviewed by Aaron Rand tonight at 6.35pm on CJAD 800. You can also hear the interview at montrealgazette.com/opinion.