13 November 2011

"Understanding diversity in English-speaking Montreal"

Below an excerpt from a speech given by Dennis Smith, GMCDI Chair, to launch an event held on Friday May 22nd.


"What better place to begin a conversation about diversity than in Montreal, the most diverse community in Quebec and one of the most diverse in Canada and North America. Montreal’s English-speaking community has a longstanding tradition of embracing diversity and is considered by many to be a model of successful integration.

The GMCDI represents a group of community volunteers that wishes to engage and consult English-speaking Montrealers, community leaders, and local professionals on key issues affecting the English-speaking communities of the Greater Montreal Area. The 2007 Greater Montreal Community Development Initiative Report indicates that Quebec’s English-speaking communities have the highest level of diversity among provincial official-language minority communities in Canada in terms of their ethnic origin, place of birth, religion and visible minority status. The 2001 census indicates that one quarter of English-speakers in the Greater Montreal area identified themselves as members of a visible minority. Newcomers have continually modified the community’s composition and have been fundamental in contributing to the vitality of English-speaking Quebec. The strong presence of ethnic communities in the metropolitan area is the main reason organizers of this symposium exploring diversity in English-speaking Quebec decided to hold a specific forum about Montreal. Here the issue of diversity is specifically relevant and it is a key issue for the English-speaking community of Greater Montreal.

While some individuals reluctantly accept the minority label, here in Quebec everyone belongs to a minority community and many are proud of that fact. The English-speaking community is a minority within a French-speaking majority that is also a minority. Ethnic groups are also minorities within those two groups. While we Quebecers have a lot in common, we do not always know how to address the issues we have in common as minority groups. We hope today's forum will help launch that important dialogue and we hope today’s conversation between Montreal’s diverse minorities is the first chat in a long lasting conversation.

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