Chemicals in the air awoke her to what was happening. Montréal was a city that wanted to sell itself as white and francophone but if you looked around you saw artists and students and workers of all colours speaking Spanish and Greek and Cantonese and French who never made the final cut for the government-sponsored grants but who damned well painted quite a brick-wall if the police weren’t bored enough to arrest an artist. She was one of these thousands who worked to learn French as their third or fourth language only to have the local francophones talk to them in English because their accent did not sound like they were born in the city. Solace was brought to her in the form of European visitors, who laughed at the accent of the franco-Québecois, calling it drunk, but comfort through classism served only to reinstate old ways of oppression, and so she instead laughed about the various confused people. The smell in the air also brought the feeling of being in a space of new things. For her, moments that meant something did not involve meeting people, or in yelling with someone about how learning something that challenged what you thought you knew made you feel scared, it was instead about those objects and spaces that infused a sense of being in a moment, like the time she climbed Mont Royal to look down over trees and clouds and dots you thought might be people walking or dogs or rocks or sheep on the street or the glimmer of pink spray paint on brown brick emboldened by a white outline that made it seem to shine. As paint sunk into brick, she separate from current conversations, in a timeless space, far from the accent talk, immune to the words that people said when insecure, people in desperate searches for meaning that were scooped up by The World Is Ending Be Scared YouTube Videos, or tabloid news companies, taking advantage of their concern and training them to become their marketing-parrots, repeating their borrowed talking points, assuming them idiots: No: Creating something physical permitted her to feel that she was part of something more permanent than people, or time. The image on the wall was something that she could look back on. She had followed the smell of paint to visit the festival and become part of something.
word by Liam Lachance
colour by Sarah Burwash