A resident of the Outaouais, who has been living in Quebec for almost twenty years, wrote a letter in which he noted the difficulty immigrants in Quebec sometimes have in speaking French with Francophones. Eugene Lakinsky talked to CHIP 101.9 about the daily examples from his life and also took the opportunity to highlight the pleasure of integrating with Quebec society.
Mr. Lakinsky published a book last January in Ukrainian for the Ukrainian market.
Excerpt from Eugène Lakinsky’s letter;
Impératif Français devotes significant efforts to the protection of French. Allow me, however, to speak of a deplorable phenomenon that may need to be further addressed.
Immigrant allophone, I live in Quebec for almost 18 years. Upon my arrival, I chose French.
Today, I master it better than English. And yet, often, when some hear my “foreign” accent, French-speaking interlocutors switch to English. And that, without giving me the benefit of the doubt.
Not only is it counterproductive (my English is worse than my French, which is their case too), but above all it is insulting. It is as if I were told that I am a foreigner who can not speak the language of Quebec. The worst thing is that people who do this do not understand that their behavior can insult the other person.
Unfortunately, I am not the only one. Many non-francophones are exposed to the same “act of kindness”. And that is very discouraging.
It takes a lot of courage and perseverance to resist such behavior, and not everyone has it. Having received some language slaps, many non-francophones give up their attempts to communicate in French (especially since “everyone understands anyway English”). Anglophones and allophones are criticized for not wanting to learn French. But even those of them who want to practice the language of Molière must face resistance: you speak French as a “second language” in a bank branch or in a small restaurant in Old Hull and staff answer you in English!
We need, perhaps, a vast awareness campaign that would encourage Francophones to use their language even when someone speaks it with an accent or with errors.
As a citizen of Quebec, I hope that your organization could one day look into this problem.