Identity and immigration: the Lebanese in Quebec
By Sari Madi, Ph.D. candidate
Coming from a rural background, the first Lebanese immigrants to Canada turned to trade as a more promising way to make a living. They worked mainly as peddlers at first then wrote, each in his own way, their success stories. In the following paragraphs we will focus on two particular success stories in Quebec: that of Annie Midlege, and that of the Lawand family.
After a short stay in New York City, Annie Midlege arrives in Ottawa around 1895. The 30 years old Lebanese widow seized all job opportunities at hand. Then she started her own business targeting primarily Native Americans; she learned their language, whereas she didn’t learn French nor English, and exchanged her goods for their fur. Within ten years, Ms. Midlige had established her first trading post, and was competing with the oldest company in North America, the Hudson’s Bay.
Another Lebanese pioneers’ successful integration story is that of the Lawand family. In the first half of the 20th century, they played an important role in the movie culture in Montreal, as Najeeb and Amine Lawand start up their company: the Confederation Amustments. Between 1909 and 1938, the company managed various theaters, including one specialized in Egyptian films. These pioneers paved the way for many Lebanese who, for over 125 years now, have been influencing the soci-cultural life of the French-speaking province of Quebec in many ways.
Since the 1970s Canada has moved from a process of assimilation of immigrants into the majority group to a quest for a pluralistic society. The goal is to eliminate any existing ethnic hierarchy within society
. This multicultural policy allows new Canadians to maintain and enhance their cultural and religious heritage. Read More ...