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How One Man's Walk Through Montreal's Westmount Turned Violent, Just Because He Spoke French

Photo Cred - Paul Ei

Walking on Sherbrooke street through Westmount on a late summer night, Dylan Speak came across a group of Anglophone youths berating a young woman for speaking French on her cellphone.

The group of four twentysomethings yelled a series of hurtful remarks, among them “learn English bitch!” “you better love this country!” and chants of “Canada! Canada!” Rather than engage the group, the woman in question simply walked by, ignoring the remarks.

Speak saw the one-sided exchange, and gave a sarcastic “Bonsoir” as he passed by the group of young men.

The four didn't take the joke very lightly.

After hearing French, this time from a male around their age, the group instantly berated Speak with even more angry remarks and threats of violence.

Speak, an Anglophone, then responded to the foursome in English, which only angered them more. The group became even more violently upset, calling Speak a “traitor.”

Threats of 'curb stomping' Speak were repeatedly issued, at which point Speak (understandably) got a safe distance from the violent young men.

Speak did not file an official report, aware that the action would have little reprecussions, as he had no way of identifying any of the individuals in the group.

The incident in question occurred in the summer of 2012. Speak came forward to us with the story after the alleged assault of an Anglophone man at a Tim Hortons in Laval.

Much like in the now-renowned Tim Hortons incident, no definitive proof is available to prove or disprove Speak's account. In truth, the specifics aren't as important as the general theme of the story.

A group of young English-speaking men were ready to berate, then attack, two individuals simply for speaking French. A demonized persona of Francophones exists that some people of the Montreal Anglophone community seemingly to buy into.

The Charter of Values, the actions of certain government officials, and other political scandals, all of which are widespread in many of Montreal's media channels, have created a negative narrative of Montreal and Quebec Francophones, one that only applies to the few (if any), and not the many.

Montreal is a bilingual city.The fact that such tensions exist between the two dominant languages and cultures of the city is a serious obstacle towards the city's overall success. French and English culture should be equally celebrated and promoted, with both working together towards a better Montreal.

A city divided cannot thrive. Here's to a unified Montreal.

What do you think of Speak's story?

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