Slowly Becoming Canadian – Episode 10 – Wine, wine and wine!


Wine enthusiast, Ericka Wicks, and I go to a Nova Scotia vineyard, Domaine de Grand Pré, to talk about and taste Canadian wine. Is wine that was not produced in France even a thing? Is it ok to drink wine that comes in a box? What should you eat next time you’re having wine? Can we sample three different wines and not get a little buzzed? Listen to this episode and find out!

The episode is available on iTunes, Souncloud or right here:

Slowly Becoming Canadian – Episode 09 – Copacanada


Friend of the podcast, Damian Daniels, is back and this time we’re talking about the Olympics that just happened in Rio. How many hours of sports is it humanly possible to watch per day? How did Canada and France do? Is team dressage a real thing? How do you pronounce Fu Yuanhui? Can Damian do a good Ryan Lochte? Do I laugh every couple minutes? Listen to this episode and find out!

Available on iTunes:

Slowly Becoming Canadian – Episode 07 – Canadian Writer Owen Laukkanen

A coast to coast interview with the author of the Stevens and Windermere thrillers, Owen Laukkanen.
We talk about trains, travelling across Canada, touring in the States, his work, Canadian litterature and play a game with Margaret Atwood. Well, she wasn’t actually there, but the game was about her.
Look for Slowly Becoming Canadian on the iTunes Store. Subcribe and the next episodes will automatically get downloaded to your library when they debut.

Slowly Becoming Canadian – Episode 06 – Field Trip

SBC - Episode 06 - Field Trip

To celebrate my 4th anniversary as a permanent resident, the Slowly Becoming Canadian podcast is taking a field trip. Join me on a guided tour of the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. The tour is given by a professional interpreter, I take care of the rambling part.

Listen to the podcast on iTunes, just look for Slowly Becoming Canadian on the iTunes store!

/!\ The first uploaded version of the episode was the wrong one and might have been automatically downloaded to your library. If the sound isn’t perfect, just re-download the episode.

Slowly Becoming Canadian The Podcast – Episode 05 – On the road again

SBC - Episode 05 - On the road

My guest Michael (in Vancouver, BC) and I (in Halifax, NS) go coast to coast and talk about driving across Canada. We discuss bad roads, sleeping in your car, road trip food and music, survival technics and scary diners. Oh, and the world’s largest chainsaw and the world’s largest lobster. Literally.

Listen to the episode on iTunes (just look for Slowly Becoming Canadian on the iTunes Store) or on Souncloud:

Slowly Becoming Canadian The Podcast – Episode 04 – Canadian food

Food 2

Fellow pub food enthousiast Heather and I sit down to enjoy a very Canadian meal and discuss (mostly late night) food etiquette. The menu might not be the healthiest but it’s delicious: Caesar (the drink, obviously, not the salad), donair (Halifax’s new official food), poutine and Timbits. We also talk about nachos, BBQ, lobster, and of course maple syrup.

You can also listen to the episode on iTunes.

Bon appétit!



Where many people started to slowly become Canadian

If you visit/live in Halifax, NS, you have to visit Pier 21. There is so much to see and so much to learn.

If you immigrated to Canada, you’ll see how people like you helped shape this country and how it helped them in return.

If you were born here, you’ll see how Canada – and you – has welcomed and continues to welcome and help so many people from everywhere.

Multiculturalism can sometimes be a very abstract idea. When you listen to these stories and see what happened in that place, it becomes very concrete. It is about people from Everywhere making a new Here.

 The Canadian Immigration Room

It is filled with great pictures, stories and very interesting facts

The Immigration Office

Look at that sassy lady with the sunglasses just about to enter Canada

The Immigration Office

The officer behind that desk was the person who decided to let you in or not.

And if you’re very nice, you’ll get to take a picture with Fenton, the museum’s mascot. Come on, look at him, you know you want to!

French debate: Let’s see how the leaders speak French

 Le débat des chefs
If you don’t speak French, chances are you didn’t watch the French debate “Le Débat des Chefs”.
Don’t worry, I watched it for you. I can’t vote in this election because I am not a Canadian citizen. So I decided  to focus not on what the leaders were saying but how they were saying it. Here are 32 thoughts doing so:
(0. Nobody looks like they’re going to cook anything. Apparently we’re talking about another kind of “chefs”)
1. The debate is in French, so your name will be pronounced as a French name.
2. His name is not Mülker! It’s Mulcair!
3. Elizabeth, come see me for some French lessons
4. Gilles Duceppe a.k.a “I’m the only real francophone here”
5. Harper made a lot of progress with his French since the 2010 debate
6. French mayhem!! Tout le monde parle!
7. Trudeau is the only one who sounds the same in French and in English
8. Reassuring fact: Leaders can talk for 2 minutes and say nothing in French, too.
9. This debate looks more like a debate in France: everybody talks at the same time and tries to speak louder than everyone else.
10. This is a French debate, so let’s make it about Quebec. Forget about the rest of the francophones.
11. Gilles just said “Interdire un vote à visage découvert”. Y’all hear that? Cover your face, when you vote. (he obviously meant the opposite)
12. “Moderateur” is apparently the French word for “I am useless”.
13. Elizabeth is talking about aboriginal women when asked about the niqab. Did she understand what they were talking about or just decided to talk about something completely different?
14. It’s not easy to make promises in French when it’s not your first language.
15. Who’s this M. Mülker they keep talking about?
16. Refering to Jean Coutu. This one is obviously not for you francophones from outside Québec.
17. Gilles Duceppe is here to remind you of Quebec. Don’t forget: Je me souviens.
18. – You have 5 seconds. Madame May.
– Nous.. nous.. nous devons…
– Time’s up, thank you Madame May.
19. Debating in your second language is very hard and very frustrating.
20. Elizabeth’s French isn’t bad. It’s just hard for her to jump into the conversation. Spontaneity will come with practice, keep practicing, Liz!
21. Journalist apologized to kids – as if kids were watching this – for using the word “dégoutés” (disgusted). I think that’s okay, monsieur.
22. Gilles just dropped the M word: la monarchie.
23. Justin just remembered it’s actually easy for him to speak French. He suddenly sounds more confident and passionate.
24. 1h07 into the debate: French and English languages are used to oppose different parts of the country.
25. French isn’t Harper’s and May’s first language and they’re getting tired because they have to concentrate harder than the others. So now, they’re talking less.
26. They’re now talking about the environment. Elizabeth, this is your field. I hope you did your French homework.
27. Fun fact: Leaders nod with disdain in French the same way they do in English.
28. “Québec, la belle province” – Gilles Duceppe (every 7 minutes)
29. “Québec” might be tonight’s most-used word.
30. Harper’s body language is the same whether he’s speaking French or English, which is not the case for everybody using a second language. Psycholinguistics shows it’s usually a sign of confidence.
31. First “faux-ami” of the night- used by May: “actuellement” doesn’t mean “actually”.
32. Harper’s accent is getting weirder and weirder. I’ve been there, it’s normal when you’re not used to speak another language. But his accent is really weird, almost Russian sometimes.

French report cards for tonight:

MayYou made some progress. Join a conversation class and practice spontaneity.
You obvioHarpperusly paid attention in French class. Now, work on your prononciation because you sound kind of weird.
TrudeauHesitations on some words at the beginning but after a while you remembered you grew up speaking French.
French or English, that’s not a problem for you. Bien joué!
DuceppeObviously, no issue with the language. Just remember, you can speak French with non-quebecers, too.

Do you think I should get to vote?


Yesterday, there was a provincial by-election in my riding and voter turnout was around 38%. I was one of the people who didn’t vote, but that didn’t influence voter turnout because, as a permanent resident, I am not allowed to vote. Don’t worry, this is not me complaining about  the right to vote. You see, I have been thinking about this issue for quite some time now – I’ve been a permanent resident for three years – and I still can’t decide if I should be allowed to vote in municipal and provincial elections.

As you probably noticed, I didn’t even raise the issue about federal elections. I come from a family of immigrants: my dad emmigrated from Tunisia to France, my grand-father emmigrated from France to the U.S., my great-grandparents emmigrated from Poland to France.  My dad lived in France for a long time before he got his French citizenship. It was something important to him and I remember him telling me that now he was  “fully French” and could call France his country. That probably explains, at least partially, why I think non-citizens shouldn’t vote in national elections. These elections are a way for the people to decide the future of their country, and a country isn’t fully yours when you are still not fully adopted by that country.

However, for me, municipal and provincial elections are different. As a resident of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia every decision made by the provincial government and by the city council directly affect my everyday life (of course, it’s also the case with the decisions made by the federal government, but I already covered that.) Maybe it is the same for Canadians who think the decisions made in Ottawa are disconnected from them and see local politics as more important. And, I am not sure of this, but  most Canadians I talk to (which of course doesn’t even come close to 35 millions) have a strong attachment to the province in which they live. I have developed a strong attachment to Nova Scotia, too. Probably because it is were I first settled when I arrived in Canada. I can’t speak for all immigrants, but I think when you come to a new country, you develop a special bond with the first place you decide will be your new home. Sometimes, at least when politics is a little bit interesting for you, it can be frustrating not to be allowed to participate in the important decisions that will impact your home. Especially, when you work in that province, contribute to its life and economy, and pay taxes. Paying taxes in Nova Scotia shouldn’t necessarily give me the right to vote, it already gives me the right as a permanent resident to have access to great services like healthcare. And I am not trying to use taxes in a “my taxes pay your salary” way. I see me paying taxes as a normal way to contribute to the sustainability of this province and to give other people access to the same services. But shouldn’t contributing give me the right to elect the people who will decide how to use my contribution? I still don’t know.

In the six years I have spent here, I have seen the question be raised a few times especially at the municipal level here in Halifax. One of the arguments that often comes up is that allowing permanent residents to vote will increase voter turnout. First of all, this is not mathematical evidence. Increasing the number of potential voters still means you need to increase the number of people who actually vote. You might even see a decrease if permanent residents don’t show up. There is this assumption that they want to vote and they will if they are given the right to. I know I would, but I don’t know if others would. Do you? Observations and studies might have been done in other countries but they took place in different contexts. Maybe surveys have been done here, but I am not aware of them. We also know that surveys don’t always reflect the reality. Anyway, I don’t think that it matters, because for me this is a bad argument. If you want to give permanent residents the right to vote it should be for good reasons and increasing voter turnout isn’t one. I believe that for that kind of issue only ethical and philosophical reasons matter. Not trying to sound smart here, I just mean it is a decision that should be made in regards to the values that it is associated with and not in regard to pragmatic reasons. Maybe a referendum can be a tool for that kind of societal issue. I guess that is why I still don’t know whether I should have the right to vote or not, it is because I think it isn’t up to me to decide but up to Canadians. The question remains: Should permanent residents be allowed to vote in local elections?

35.16 million Canadians + me

Today I learned that I want to be Canadian. To be an actual Canadian citizen.

I was waiting for my bus when an international student asked me to explain the bus system. He didn’t know how much a ticket cost, nor where to buy a student bus pass. I started to explain how to walk to a store where he could get one, but I could see he was a little confused, so I decided to walk there with him. On the way, he told me he had just arrived the night before from China and that he was going to be taking English lessons this summer before studying engineering in the fall. He sounded tired, excited and a little overwhelmed. I remembered when I first arrived in the different countries I’ve lived in and how it was a lot to take in at first. When we got to the store I told him how to get the pass and showed him where he could get a sandwich. On an impulse, I also gave him my card, just in case he needed help with something else. He probably will never call me and will get all the help he needs from his university and fellow students, but I thought that at least for a few hours it might be reassuring for him to know there was someone he could contact. I wished him good luck and we parted ways.

Twenty minutes later, I got on a bus and he was there. He smiled and showed me his brand new bus pass. We looked at his map and figured out his next stop. He thanked me and got off the bus. I was probably imagining it but he looked like he was already feeling better. I was feeling good too and I thought, “Now he’ll know it’s true that Canadians are nice and welcoming” But then I thought, “Wait, I’m not from here, I’m not Canadian.”

But maybe now I feel like “here” is home, like I am a part of here, like I want to be Canadian.

Thank you Andy for helping me realize it’s time to look into getting Canadian citizenship.


Peer 21

Peer 21, Halifax, Nova Scotia