This isn't the more affluent yuppified neighborhood of NDG bordering Monkland Ave, it's more of a transition area that leads to the decidedly working class area around Cavendish/Benny Farm.
For the benefit of those unfamiliar with the area, it is home to a chunk of Montreal's Anglo black community, most hailing from the Caribbean islands, as well as other anglos and francophones members of the lower middle and working class. It still remains about ⅔ anglophone, the community's history reflected in the name of the streets and schools.
I shop there because there's a bunch of small merchants that I love to encourage, patronizing locals is something that I take as a personal source of pride.
|Seen on Somerled- My all-time favorite sign!|
They speak perfect English which they learned in school back in Sri Lanka and yes, they have started to master French quite well.
They always advise me on the ripeness of cantaloupes and are never wrong. I would never shop elsewhere.
Lately I've noticed a 'Canadianized' teenager who is starting to help out as well. He goes to French school as per Bill 101, but somehow speaks perfect English. No doubt a Dawson and McGill candidate in a couple of years!
There's a bilingual poster on the glass door advising customers about something or other concerning the NDG food co-op. I hope the OQLF and their minions of frustrated retards don't complain.
Across the street there is a government SAQ (liquor monopoly), which believe it or not, offers English speakers a first rate service.
A mixture of bilingual anglophone and francophones work there and none of them are hung up on language, speaking to the clients in the language of choice, where the familiar Montreal greeting of Bonjour/Hi still reigns supreme.
Documents and literature are all available in English and the translations are excellent, done by native English speakers, you can tell.
Hats off to the SAQ, the most English friendly service of the government.
Weather permitting, on the terrace of the bar across the street, gruffy patrons lounge over a beer or sometimes, but rarely, a glass of wine. They discuss the affairs of the day bilingually and rage against each other in the language of Shakespeare and Moliere.
Back across the street is a little grocery store run by Russians which features eastern European specialties.
I particularly enjoy selecting from the ten or twelve varieties of frozen perogies which I pick up from time to time.
The clerks speak wonderful English and French, all with an adoring thick Russian accent. I always say "Zarosevo d-nja!"(Have a nice day!) before I leave.
Sadly, the M&Ms franchise just next door is closed, the family which bought the franchise likely losing their life savings on a failed Canadian dream.
Let's face it, this isn't the district for fancy frozen expensive food and the company should have known it. It falls on the small investor, essentially buying a job, to take the fall for a marketing error.
Life is unforgiving in the retail marketplace and everyone's business on the street here is tenuous.
A couple of bad weeks and.....well.
Alas a Subway franchise has taken over and I hope the owner ekes out a living. So far it doesn't look too busy.
Down the street is a pizza joint that is busy. It serves cheap food, two slices for the price of one. I don't know if the owner is English, French or Greek, he toils in the back whipping out the pies while a young bilingual counter clerk serves out the plates.
It's a favorite of the area's young Anglophone black community and working class families.
Across the street from the pizza store is a Chinese food counter where you can order takeout. I haven't bought anything there in years, but back then, the Chinese cook (a one-man-show) didn't speak much English or French. You pointed out the dishes you wanted on the menu, which he cooked up right in front of you.
One thing I can say, even those who don't speak English or French understand the universal language of money and all can ring up a register and give proper change!
Here in this part of NDG, people are not wealthy, but rich in culture.
They don't care or think much about language, because almost all are bilingual.The immigrants are learning English and French, on the job. Some have more difficulty than others, but it doesn't matter when clients and neighbors are of good will.
The last time I was in the SAQ a francophone patron helped out an elderly English couple, by carrying out a heavy box of booze to the car. On this street, people are down to Earth and generally kind and cooperative.
It's the kind of district where you can overhear that quintessential Montreal conversation, the one where one half of the conversation is in French and the other in English. Alternately, there's the conversation where the speaker actually switches mid-sentence between languages.
And of course, many of us have had the experience of addressing someone in French and receiving a reply in French, only to realize that both are English!
This happens to me in the Rona Hardware on St. Jacques all the time!
It's a down to Earth part of town where people don't get hung up over language and transact with each other ignoring the differences,
When your store of choice is Dollarama (just down the street), you're not going to bitch about a clerk who has a bit of trouble with your language.
You're also not apt to complain about someone serving you who is wearing a Hijab, Turban, Sari or someone who sports a distracting piercing.
It's cruelly ignoble to complain about someone who is grinding it out for minimum wage, just trying to bring in a few bucks to help make ends meet..
This is NDG.....the impossible dream.
If you choose to live here it is because you are a 'live and let live' sort of person. You enjoy diversity and take pride in your bilingualism.
Why am I telling you this story of a nice street with nice merchants and similarly nice customers?
Because this is the street that the two punks from the SSJB decided to terrorize.
One of the merchants they decided to 'teach a lesson', is another fruit and vegetable store, all for the unpardonable sin of posting a copy of an English newspaper advertisement which the store had run, heralding the specials of the week.
Here is a picture of the sign over the grocery store that got the young SSJB rat boys so worked up.
I don't know what upset them so much, there's actually a descriptor in front of the name of the store, just like the liars at the OQLF pretend that is required.
Oh oh! There it is !
Now I see the problem, do you?
As people try to scratch out an honest living, many working twelve and fourteen hour days, the intrusion by language rats is just another reason in the long list of the many hardships faced and why 25% of immigrants leave Quebec shortly after arriving here.
Quebec nationalists and those critical of this blog continue to peddle the fantasy that Quebec is open and welcoming to immigrants as long as they speak French.
The language issue is just the most visible aspect of the ethnocentrism that is the fabric of Quebec society which is bolstered by the constant bashing of the English language and the religious customs, dress and culture of immigrants.
The constant reminder of the Us/Them syndrome has left Quebec a polarized and unforgiving society.
Just this week the Montreal police were again sanctioned for racial profiling and ordered to pay an Arab businessman $18,000 for harassment. You'd think this stuff was something from the 1950's, but it's par for the course as police continue their war on minorities. Read how the city of Montreal 'handles' these cases. Link
What French language bashers fail to understand or care, is that there is someone on the receiving end of their vitriol. Someone who honestly means no harm and is just trying to make a living.
Here on Somerled Avenue, it isn't corporate Quebec/Canada that is being attacked, rather vulnerable micro businesses that are the soft and easy target that language militants like to attack.
An immigrant breaking the language laws represents the perfect villain for Benoît Dutrizac and company.
Like a hunt on the Serengeti, the language militants adhere to the policy of going after the weakest of the herd.
It is nothing short of sickening.
I'll say it again, when that young Black SSJB volunteer who terrorized the neighborhood grows up and realizes that even with his French, he is a second class citizen, it will be a rude and sad awakening.
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