The opening undoubtedly would feature two of our many Francophone leaders from Ottawa ACORN doing the briefing at the Immigrant Workers Center for twenty folks in French to enthusiastic response. Ginelise was from Haiti originally and Pacifique hailed from Burundi. One of my favorites was during the Q&A part when a question came at Ginelise partly in English and partly in French, and she asked the questioner to choose the language for the response. Priceless!
Another favorite was the meeting that Judy Duncan, ACORN Canada director, and I had with the national director of the Postal Workers in the huge labor skyscraper that headquarters the FTQ, the central labor federation. They argued that did not feel really feel comfortable in English, their translators were out, and we were damaged in French, but we had a great meeting filled with French, English, and perhaps woefully Spanish, which I threw in from time to time, begging at the knees of the Romance language traditions, as we made the effort to communicate and succeeded wonderfully. They ended up offering to pull together a meeting of Quebec-based unions to learn about ACORN, which was a magical result.
Finally, walking many of the neighborhoods to get a feel for the turf, our last stop was in Parc Ex, as it is known, which Judy and I both loved. Judy gave me a constant lecture about the challenges of door knocking in low rise apartments, but the looks of the community did not inspire confidence that too many security systems would be pristine. Adaptations would need to be made.
A pallor was cast of the visit though as I opened my email and realized that Eric Shragge, our invaluable guide, sent me a link to an article in the Montreal Gazette quoting many who were outraged that welfare benefits were being cut by more than $100 a month! Suddenly my last taste of Montreal was not the good times, but the déjà vu feeling that “America” was here, too.