Prattle on
Thursday, September 29, 2005
So, it has come to my attention that when you are surrounded by a group of people who speak a different language than you, they will talk about you freely if they so desire. Yesterday, I came into the office and was greeted by about five French Canadian construction workers (on a side note: Montreal’s construction industry has been subject of some criticism. While in other urban centres on the continent, the collection of city workers and construction crews more accurately represent the city’s populace, not so in Montreal. The white French Canadian population seems to have a lock down on the trades. The criticism interesting. Partially, there is a sense that Montreal is prosperous enough to have ‘others’ do the grunt work. That said, while skill craftsmen can be found in all communities, why can they not be found on construction sites? Construction is a necessary and lucrative job for many, why are some people blocked from the construction job market? In Toronto, for a long time construction was dominated by the Italian community. At least that is the perception. Anyone who has read Ondaajte’s “In the Skin of a Lion” can tell you that Toronto’s ‘building class’ was full of immigrants, not only Italian, from poorer European countries. However, Toronto building sites have absorbed all sorts of people and communities. I think that one of the problems is that Quebec isn’t exactly the most welcoming of provinces. I have heard many immigrants say that they get an easier start in English Canada than they do here. Anyway, I digress).

So, yeah, the five French construction workers. I came into the office yesterday and after noting that I don’t speak French one guy said something to me that was inappropriate. Well, I can only guess it was inappropriate. My French is good enough to understand the guy who said, “It is not a good idea to talk to her like that.” Now I am dying to find out what he said.

Today, I come into the office and there are about seven or eight guys. I walk in and they are all smiles. Then just before the security guard (who thinks I don’t speak a lick of French) leaves me with the crew he stands beside me and says in French “Look but don’t touch!” Then he walks out the door. The nerve!

Imagine. I’m just a regular looking woman (with fabulous hair).

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