Welcome to Winnipeg, Manitoba ! This week, I’ve been sent halfway across the country for some teaching training. Yep, my very first business trip… So I found myself on a plane wondering what the hell I was doing there – pretty much the story of my life.
Okay, I did NOT lie about all my travels, but I have to be honest : except for visiting my family in France once a year, I hadn’t traveled much these last two years. The thought of going almost 2,000 km from Ottawa was a bit scary since I didn’t know exactly where and why I was going.
On top of that, I landed in Winnipeg Monday evening in the middle of a storm :
Arriving in such bad weather was a bit creepy. And empty hotel rooms are creepy as well, especially when traveling alone. I was in survival mode. The city looked strange to me : wide roads but no freeways, bunch of people hanging out outside buildings, drugs and no rock’n’roll. I had never realized how “clean” was Ottawa.
Fortunately, Tuesday was much better. I walked to The Forks, one of Winnipeg’s landmark, by the Red River and The Assiniboine. From there I had a good view of Winnipeg’s skyline (if it can be called a skyline…) The city downtown is very spread out and some parts of the city almost look abandoned. Hello, hello, is there anybody in there ? Did everyone run away from the cold winters ?
From there, I crossed the footbridge overlooking the Red River to go to Saint Boniface, the old French district. Nope, I didn’t hear any French.
When I first arrived for the training, the staff totally freaked out when they learned I was French. “Oh, I’m sorry, we don’t have anybody speaking French here !” “Wait a second, I think Kelly took French in Junior High, let’s get her” “She’s out of town for the week, what are we gonna do ?”
Nothing. You won’t do anything cause I can speak English. I felt like the language police from Ottawa visiting ! Yes, there’s a language battle in Canada but I’m not part of it. If you speak French, we speak French. If you speak English, we speak English. Language is a mean of communication to me, not a political battle.
And they relaxed. And so did I.
I spent a while at the Forks, where I grabbed something to eat in the indoor market. “Friendly Manitoba” as the license plates say… well, people are friendly. Ottawa is all about politics and securing a good steady job in government, but Winnipeg is far more relaxed and casual.
The next day, I walked to the Legislative Buildings, all the way down Broadway Avenue. Gosh, I can never estimate distances right on a map. Growing up in Europe in a city I could cross in 30 minutes top, I really never got used to the North American scale.
And I explored the downtown, around Main & Portage. I loved the tall buildings and the busy atmosphere, the freedom of walking unknown streets, the anonymity. Everything was fresh and new to me. I’m sick of Ottawa. My spirit is crying for leaving.
I flew back to Ottawa a few days later… on my way to another trip, in Toronto.