Day 52 – Montreal to Trois-Rivières, PQ – 140km

I slept inside
our RV which was parked at the main entrance pull-up of the Centre de Marie
Enfant. We were allowed to park there—Elizabeth and Christine cleared us with
security. Nonetheless, it still felt very strange being parked in a place that
had the resemblance of a hospital’s main entrance. I kept thinking that an
ambulance would pull up in the middle of the night.

There was a
car accident or something at the intersection closest to us in the middle of
the night…or maybe a drunken fight. Who knows, it was Montreal on a Friday
night. Anyways, there were lots of sirens from police, fire trucks, and an
ambulance, so half-asleep, I kept dream-thinking that an ambulance was pulling
in.

Elizabeth and
Christine were all set to bike with me in the morning. Elizabeth has actually
done a fair bit of bicycle touring in Quebec and the Maritimes, so she gave me
some good advice about camping and route. The three of us had a mellow cycle
down to Rue Notre Dame (through some inevitable Montreal construction) where I
could get on the La Route Verte bike route that would take me to Trois
Rivieres.

The ride
leaving Montreal was all on a bike path, so it was quite pleasant, but I always
look forward to the change in scenery from urban to rural. Once I got out of
Montreal, Highway 148 wound next to the St. Lawrence River. Quaint shops, cute
houses, and some sprawling houses lined the road. For about 30km, the road went
inland through fields. At this point, I caught up to the Ride to Conquer
Cancer. I passed the cube truck and police cruiser at the back of the ride.
Then I began to pass the slow riders who were quite spread out towards the far
end of their ride. The last 30km of my ride was somewhat uneventful other than
passing the Conquer Cancer riders who were at the back of the pack.

Thanks to
Elizabeth and Christine, we again, had our accommodations arranged. Tonight we
were staying in a wheelchair accessible residence at the Université du Québec
campus. I don’t think there were many students staying in the building because
of it being the summer term. It was quite quiet—much quieter than I remember my
residence at Waterloo being. At one point though, 2 girls opened the door to
our room, completely surprised that we were there. They apologized in French
and quickly closed the door. That was comical.

I’ve been to
Montreal before, as a tourist. It’s different when you’re in the downtown area
and you’re doing touristy things. Everyone speaks English and French. For the
first time in my life, I’m beginning to really wish that I learned French.  Where was my motivation in school to keep it
up? Why did I drop it? I do know the answers to those questions, but the public
doesn’t need to know. Presenting to crowds whose primary language is French,
and relying on other people to translate, I’ve felt dependent and not
independent. When I’ve met people who don’t speak English well, I’ve had to
wait for someone who can translate. Feeling reliant is a lousy feeling. I don’t
like it. I want to learn French now. I’ve had enough of the language barrier.

There’s
another communication barrier. It’s not a difference in language. It’s a
difference in the way we communicate. When we talk, we are all dependent on the
person we are talking to on some level. We need them to listen, try to
understand, fill in gaps, respond, and quite importantly, be patient. Some of
us are more dependent than others. For instance, when my brother, Kerr,
communicates using blinks, he needs the person he’s talking with to ask him
yes/no questions so he can answer with a blink for yes. If he is using his
computer, he’ll take a while to go through all the menus he needs to in order
to get to what he wants to say. The person he’s talking with needs to be extra
patient. Many people who speak in alternative ways due to a disability face
similar dependencies. The last 2 days, I’ve been dependent on someone else for
my communication occasionally, and I’ve hated it. For the first time in my
life, I’ve gotten a taste of what it’s like to be dependent on someone else for
my communication. I have a lot of respect for the people who cope with that
feeling every day. On the other hand, my brother and I have talked about this
before. Being more dependent on the others around him for his communication is
what he’s used to. It’s normal to him.

I think life
is about empowerment, but it is always impossible to get away from dependency
completely (i.e. we’ll always be mutually dependent with our loved ones, and
everyone else who shares our environment). As we grow, we learn and become
empowered. I want people to learn how to communicate with people who speak in
different ways. By learning about someone who speaks in alternative ways, you
will empower yourself. Be patient. Make the effort to learn about how someone
communicates. You may meet someone who changes your life. You may meet someone
who tells you a powerful story about the accident that paralyzed him/her. After
hearing that story, you may be motivated to change something in your own life;
which one day saves you. You may meet a best friend; who knows. By being open minded, we aren’t preventing anyone from empowering themselves.

Check out the video from Montreal:

-Skye

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