“You May Say I’m a Dreamer” – Tourist vs. Resident

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Cana­di­ana, Ottawa, July 2012

As much as I enjoy immi­gra­tion top­ics, I have never been able to find a good forum on the sub­ject. Some boast thou­sands of mem­bers, but most are one-time vis­i­tors look­ing for a quick answer to their immi­gra­tion question—there is no social inter­ac­tion. Other forums are a hunt­ing ground for scam­mers and immi­gra­tion lawyers pro­mot­ing their ser­vices, and have lit­tle to offer.

I used to be a mem­ber of a large French-speaking immi­gra­tion forum, but I was banned back in 2006 or 2007. Just as well: I didn’t exactly fit in.

Most mem­bers of that forum were prospec­tive immi­grants from France head­ing to Que­bec, the large major­ity to Mon­tréal, a few to Que­bec, and even fewer to remote regions of Que­bec. I was the token “French liv­ing in Ontario”, a role I didn’t mind. After all, to each his own, and as I said many times, I’m much more com­fort­able liv­ing in Eng­lish Canada.

What drove me crazy were the stereo­types a lot of prospec­tive immi­grants chose to believe in.

French cit­i­zens are lucky: they do not need a visa to visit Canada, and they can make the trip rel­a­tively easily—they are richer and face less bureau­cratic has­sle than cit­i­zens from, let’s say, China, Mex­ico, India, etc. So it’s com­mon for French fam­i­lies inter­ested in immi­grat­ing to Que­bec to organ­ise “scout­ing trips” and to report on them later on.

And most—if not all—families came back rant­ing about France and spread­ing stereotypes.

First, I found their whin­ing about France a lit­tle bit over the top. Granted, most prospec­tive immi­grants aren’t happy with their life at home—this is what they want out. That doesn’t mean the coun­try they live in is com­pletely rot­ten, and that doesn’t mean, in my hum­ble opin­ion, that they are enti­tled to become far-right pricks. I got tired of read­ing end­less rants about “immi­grants invad­ing France and destroy­ing our val­ues”, “lazy unem­ployed bums who sit around col­lect­ing unem­ploy­ment and social ben­e­fits”, and “hard-working French who pay too much taxes”.

You are French. Get over it. Immi­grat­ing with such a neg­a­tive atti­tude towards your home coun­try is never a good idea, and can back­fire later on.

Usu­ally, these rants against France are imme­di­ately fol­lowed by what the fam­ily observed dur­ing the week– or two-week long Cana­dian holiday.

Peo­ple are so polite in Mon­tréal!” “Every­body was smil­ing and say­ing ‘allô’!” “The bed & break­fast owner was friendly and wel­com­ing!” “We made a lot of friends who will help us when we set­tle there!”

Well, gee. Not to be cyn­i­cal, but as tourists, you were there to spend money. Of course, the tourism indus­try is going to wel­come you with open arms—that’s the least it can do! As for the friends you made… Just remem­ber that Cana­di­ans are friendly and help­ful (that much is true!) but don’t expect a friend­ship to blos­som in a week-long trip.

The weather was great!” (if the tourists were there dur­ing fall) “It was much warmer than we expected!” (dur­ing a sum­mer trip) “Meh, it’s not that cold and snow is so pretty!” (dur­ing a win­ter trip)

Keep in mind that there is a huge dif­fer­ence between “sur­viv­ing” two weeks of cold weather, and spend­ing an entire win­ter in Canada…  or two, or three, or four. Just saying.

Accord­ing to the locals, there is a lot of work in the region. So and so is hir­ing. And we could eas­ily start our own busi­ness. Lots of local do, doesn’t look that hard and they make a lot.”

Again, ahem. I’m not say­ing locals lie to tourists on pur­pose, but few real­ize how hard it is to find a first job in Canada, espe­cially for new­com­ers. Some declin­ing regions are des­per­ate to attract new blood (ever seen the Que­bec movie “Seduc­ing Doc­tor Lewis”?) and will promise the moon, so don’t believe every­thing the local com­merce cham­bers or indus­tries will tell you.

We stayed in a log home by the lake, went dog sled­ding, ate some maple syrup pan­cakes by the bon­fire and rode a snow­mo­bile. We loved Quebec’s wide open spaces and clean nat­ural wilder­ness. That’s the life we want, we can’t stand Paris anymore!”

Glad to see you had fun and enjoyed the tourist activ­i­ties! And I’m stress­ing on “tourist” because let’s face it, unless you become a musher (aka dri­ver of a dogsled), you will likely live in an urban envi­ron­ment and drive a car to work—not a snow­mo­bile. Oh, and log homes are fairly uncom­mon down­town Mon­tréal. Sorry about that.

You may think I’m a bit cyn­i­cal, but I’m so tired of hear­ing prospec­tive immi­grants spread­ing this twisted fic­tional vision of Que­bec! Mind you, the tourism office loves the pro­pa­ganda, but I don’t think it help immi­grants on the long run.

There is a huge gap between being a tourist and a res­i­dent, and of all peo­ple, prospec­tive immi­grants should be aware of it.

What do you think? Ever heard prospec­tive immi­grants spread­ing stereo­types? How do you react to that?

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

22 Comments

  1. Hahaha, I loved read­ing this post! I’m going to share it with the next per­son who trav­els to India and comes back with sto­ries of “how warm and spir­i­tual it is! I can totally live there!” mehh

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