Homeless in Vancouver: Another new Dumpster diver from Quebec

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      Look who I caught Dumpster diving last night: the son of Bonhomme Carnaval, the world-famous mascot of the Quebec Winter Carnaval!

      While I would have thought he and his whole family summered a little closer to the Arctic Circle—it was a little warm last night…for a hat—I’m never surprised to hear French coming out of a Dumpster.

      The ranks of Vancouver’s binners and street people are sprinkled with a small but vocal number of French-speaking Québécois (or Quebeckers if you’re an anglophone of a certain age). I wouldn’t say they have all that much in common besides a shared mother tongue. Age-wise they range from 20-somethings to senior citizens.

      Many of them will have come to B.C. at some point as part of the annual summer migration of Quebec university students.

      Many come each year—some don’t leave

      When I arrived in Vancouver 34 years ago, on May 8, 1980, I met the first wave of Québécois come to pick fruit in the Okanagan—they came to pick fruit but they also stayed to pick mushrooms.

      I vividly remember, two weeks later, spending a night in the run-down, ratty, elegance of the old Hotel Europe in Gastown, surrounded by guys and gals from Quebec who stayed up all night gabbling to each other in their beautiful language while I sat on the floor drawing a comic strip about a penguin in a trench coat for a newspaper advertisement.

      I understand they still grow fruit in the Okanagan and Quebec university students still come to pick it

      Stanley Q. Woodvine is a homeless resident of Vancouver who has worked in the past as an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer.