My neighborhood is rather crowded and working-class, one that occasionally flirts with the underprivileged status. The majority of my neighbors are tenants. Many weren't born in Canada. Some are from South America, some are from India, some are from the Maghreb... Like the majority of Québécois, some are nice, but some aren't.
Last summer, one of the kids with whom my children share the alley as their playground spent a few weeks in Congo visiting his grandparents. "How was it?" I asked. "Dirty!" he replied candidly. Well, I thought... the young North American experienced a culture clash.
He's the oldest of three being raised by a single Mom in a basement apartment. He's one year younger than my son. They both attend the same music-oriented public school.
Preparing for back to school, his mother stopped by our house. She wanted our son to introduce her boy to public commuting, the norm when entering grade five. We informed her of the school's policy on transportation courtesy passes. Soon after, both our sons were riding the yellow bus.
It's winter now. I'm watching my young neighbor play hockey with his siblings and cousins through my kitchen window. I can't help but smile, a candid smile... a smile that betrays the homogeneity of the world in which I was brought up.
I hear all these exotic names when my children refer to their friends in school. My son and my daughter are natives of this diversified society. My family lives in the forefront of tomorrow's Québec. I accept it and I envy my children's natural.