Nina Clausen sent her story through OurNews! What about you? What is your story of being an anglophone in Quebec?
Almost two years ago, I moved to Plessisville, Que. to be closer to my fiancé's family - he was born and raised in Quebec - and begin a family of our own. As an immigrant from Denmark, I was not afraid of moving again and was in fact excited to begin living in Quebec and learn French.
Upon our arrival, I immediately began looking for French classes or a tutor as well as looking for a job. I eventually was enrolled to learn French in an adult school while being paid by federal unemployment - I was living and working in Ontario before our move. I was eager to begin learning the language and continued my search for a job.
The program I was enrolled in was eventually closed after many complaints that students (one being myself) were not learning anything because the program was not built to teach French as a second language. My many attempts at finding a private teacher or tutor were only met with smirks and closed doors.
In an attempt to find help in my job search, I sought help from provincial and federal employment services. I met with government employees who were supposed to be bilingual but quickly discovered that being bilingual just meant they could say 'hello.'
I made an appointment with a 'bilingual' employee from Service Canada regarding my unemployment application and was eager to speak with them to finally get some answers to all questions. When I arrived, the employee greeted me in French and I replied with the little French knowledge I had.
As we sat down to discuss my concerns, she seemed annoyed that she had to speak English with me and kept switching to French as my fiancé was there and he is fluent. At one point, the employee turned to me and said 'see he speaks French.' I was extremely confused, frustrated and sad that I was continuously being hit with so many closed doors. I left my meeting that day in tears and wanting to drive out of Quebec forever.
I have been living in the Bois-Francs region for almost two years now and despite wanting to learn French and wanting to submerge myself into the culture here, I have not been 'allowed' to do that. Everyday life for me here is such a struggle and I have sadly started to look for a new home for my family outside of Quebec where we can all live happily and feel like we are a part of a community...and not just a black sheep. It breaks my heart that we are being forced to leave because my son's grandparents, uncle, aunt, cousins and godparents all live here...but without the language or a job I will not be able to help support my family.
I am not writing to make any complaints - I have made enough already - I am writing in an attempt to maybe help another English-speaking family who finds themselves the same shoes as me. Life as an English-speaker in the Bois-Francs region is an incredibly sad, frustrating and lonely one!