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Engaging with Diversity

Multidisciplinary Reflections on Plurality from Quebec

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Edited By Stéphan Gervais, Raffaele Iacovino and Mary-Anne Poutanen

Contributed by leading scholars of Quebec Studies, both emerging and established, the 30 essays of this comprehensive collection offer a multidisciplinary survey of the study of diversity in Quebec over space and time. The volume is organized around a variety of themes through which Quebec’s plural reality is expressed, including conceptual, historical and contemporary approaches, covering a wide range of social and economic cleavages, identity markers, political contestation and, broadly, the lived experiences of Quebecers negotiating difference over time. In an environment increasingly demarcated by conflicts around values and cultural and social practices, this collection hopes to contribute to broadening the spectrum of voices to the current debate, adding an inclusive reflection to a conversation that has only intensified over the last decade. Quebec as a pluri-national and multi-ethnic society has been and remains a great laboratory to study and to test public policies on ethnic diversity. It allows us to identify the tensions and to evaluate the balance between the majority and the minority; and between settler society and indigenous nations, in conceptualizing and finding a normative consensus around the configuration of collective rights. In short, the contributions in this volume seek to illustrate how pluralism has and continues to constitute the lifeblood of belonging in Quebec.

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“My Love, How Different Life Is Here…” A Young Italian Woman’s Impressions of Postwar Montreal (Sonia Cancian)

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← 438 | 439 →

“My Love, How Different Life Is Here…”

A Young Italian Woman’s Impressions of Postwar Montreal

Sonia CANCIAN1

My adored Loris,

Today is Sunday, a Sunday that is filled with memories and nostalgia, the first Sunday that I am in Canada, I have everything I need here, even today when I went to visit a friend of my father’s I was given the red carpet treatment, the table was adorned with all of God’s blessings, any sweet treat was mine, but never, not even for a moment did I stop thinking of you, every passing minute reminded me of our last Sunday, where we were, your face, still smiling and radiating with joy, a joy that imbues us only when we are together, when I thought of the distance that divides us, as I think about it now, I feel my heart tightening into a knot, I become breathless, completely breathless. (1948, September 26)

What kind of impressions did the city of Montreal imprint in the minds and hearts of Italian immigrants arriving at Windsor Station in the late 1940s? Conversely, how did these immigrants view their new home city and its cultural, linguistic and geographic physiognomies, and what can their reflections, captured in the letters written to their loved ones in Italy—as in the case of the above excerpt—contribute to comprehending further how Montreal was experienced by immigrants immediately after ← 439 | 440 → the end...

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