National Day | The enormous chance we have to live together

From time to time, wherever I go, I am asked where I come from, to which country I belong. I candidly admit to having searched for a long time for the answer that would satisfy this curiosity.


Posted at 1:41 a.m.

Updated at 6:00 a.m.

A. Huy Pham

Editor and analyst

In my quest for belonging and identity, always evolving and never complete, I often found it difficult to define who I was. At 35, the insight that the years bring me reinforces every day my certainty that only one answer is the right one. My nation is celebrated on June 24.

It was she who chose me 45 years ago when Jacques Couture, the humanist of his time, implored his people to open their arms to welcome refugees from the other side of the world with warmth and generosity.

Since my early childhood, the arrival of Midsummer’s Day has evoked in me a feeling of happiness. I remember the excitement of the last days of school, the anticipation of the final bell ringing the start of vacation.

Once the greetings were over, it was straight to the municipal swimming pool, before meeting up on the evening of the 23rd in the neighborhood park.

The advantage of having grown up in a multi-ethnic area is to see the colors and accents of all origins parade, painted in blue, celebrating the enormous chance we have to live together. For the moment of an evening, the superficial differences that usually separate us give way to communion, sharing and smiles.

It’s this warmth that pushes me to stay. This letting live that we rarely find elsewhere, allowing free expression of oneself without being judged.

I admire the empathy of our community, which immediately pushes us to stand in solidarity with the oppressed. Our social democracy, sometimes despised and often taken for granted, which we infinitely appreciate when it comes to help us. Let’s work to protect it, modernize it so that it can continue its role.

I love the goodwill of our people, who allow second chances through a generous social safety net offering tools to bounce back. Even in my darkest days, I always believed that it was possible to get back up.

Hear all the voices

Apart from a few incidents, I rarely felt marginalized. But my luck cannot be generalized in any way. We must listen to minoritized voices, invisible voices. Hear those who express their suffering. Because each voice silenced makes the whole of society less strong and less free.

I’m not even talking about political postures at the mercy of the ballots. Of these speeches pitting one against the other, which claim to speak with one voice in the name of all to leave, in the end, once the ballot boxes have passed, the most vulnerable with the broken pots, with the feeling of being too much in this community.

Often, I saw myself living elsewhere. During several journeys from north to south to the country of my ancestors to explore a place where I could hide. In my many dreams where I found happiness aboard a sailboat off Lake Geneva, near Coppet, where Madame de Staël brandished her pen to make armies tremble.

But, at the end of each trip, as thrilling as it is, I only truly feel at peace once I get down to Dorval, after having found the familiar accents of our imperfect, but beloved, Montreal.

I love my nation, even if for some, I will never be part of it. Although sometimes I am looked at suspiciously, like a potential threat. Even if for many, I will always be too much of this or not enough of that to be one of them. By my appearance, the name I have or the way I pronounce words.

Although, for many, my membership is still conditional, revocable and constantly subject to testing, where I will have to prove allegiance by satisfying a list of arbitrary criteria like what shows I watch, how I exercise my right to vote and what stars I know.

No offense to the disgruntled spirits, I intend to stay a little, until the day when time calls me to move on to the next life. I intend all the more to put down roots between now and then to leave the future citizens who will bear my name a nation which will include them and in which they will flourish.

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