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World Association of International Studies

Post Montreal's Multiculturalism
Created by John Eipper on 10/09/19 2:38 AM

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Montreal's Multiculturalism (Bàrbara Molas, Canada, 10/09/19 2:38 am)

To respond to John E (October 8th), Toronto's multiculturalism is fairly recent. Historically, the most culturally diverse city in Canada had been Montreal.

Currently, and according to the most recent published demographic data, Montreal's population includes French (26%), Italian (7%), Irish (6%), English (4%), Scottish (3%) and Spanish (2%). About 31% of the city's population belongs to a visible minority, up dramatically from just 5% in 1981. The most common visible minorities are African (9.1%), Arabic (6.4%), Latin Americans (4.2%), South Asians (3.3%) and Chinese (2.9%).

Although French is the official language of Montreal, many ethnic groups and "new immigrants" choose English over French because they generally believe that English allows for more job opportunities and professional advancement. This is regardless of the fact that being able to work both in French and English in Quebec (and broadly anywhere else in Canada) means a higher salary. Precisely, one of the main arguments of Quebec nativism is that, by choosing English over French, "foreigners" (whatever that might mean) are threatening the French Canadian identity and Quebec's claims for a "special status" as legitimate representative of the second "founding nation."

JE comments:  Montreal is unique in several ways.  For starters, it's the only major city of its language in an entire hemisphere. (I hope Quebec, at 500,000 population, doesn't mind being excluded from major city-hood.)  Moreover, Montreal is one of the very few cities where immigrants choose the hegemonic language at the expense of the historic, "native" one.  Singapore is similar.  English is also the most spoken language in Dubai.  And the example of Barcelona is somewhat analogous (Spanish over Catalan).  Russian is still more widely spoken in Kiev than Ukrainian.  I'm certainly overlooking other examples.

So linguistically speaking, Montreal may not be entirely unique.  But it's still the only city with its own appelation of smoked meat.  I haven't visited Montreal since my Dartmouth days.  Must do something about that.

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