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Duff Court Street

Angel Diamond

Contributor

Via Global News


Duff Court Street in Lachine was my first ever home. I lived in the number 232 apartment with my parents and my older sister. It was an exceedingly small place, as the apartment only had two bedrooms. At night, you heard multiple insects creep around you, and it had very dirty walls that my parents would clean to get rid of the stench that built up. Since my dad would get paid 9$ per hour at a company named Maxx, which builds bathroom essentials, it was the only place we could afford at the time. We stayed there for five years, from 2006 to 2011, before moving out into a more comfortable place in Chateauguay.


Once I turned three in 2008, my parents decided to put me into daycare. The reason they did this was because I was a very shy kid who did not speak to anyone other than my parents.


They also felt the need to send me there since my doctor at the time was convinced I had some sort of problem. “Your daughter might have autism,” said the doctor, “[and] there are too many obvious signs she is exhibiting.” The problem is: my father did not want to believe this. He knew I would grow out of my “shyness,” so he never accepted the children’s hospital doing any type of test on me. 


The daycare I went to was called Le Jardin des Frimousses, it was just down across Duff Court Street, where all the drug addicts would throw up or smoke, where all the dirty garbage with dancing flies lay. That daycare was also the beginning of my family’s downfall in the neighbourhood.


Le Jardin des Frimousses was a daycare filled with children that I found very annoying. They would always try to play with me, but I would push them away by hitting them in the face, which would get me in trouble. It continuously smelled like a hospital, and the food they served always looked like it was made one year ago. The things I really enjoyed doing were watching Disney movies and leaving the place.


In the early 2000s, Lachine was not known for having a lot of immigrants. I was born in Quebec, but my parents came here from their respective countries, Ghana and Nigeria. There were only a handful of Black people, which made it rare for us to cross paths and, on my street, we were the only ones. At the daycare, my educators would make fun of me by judging my textured hair or calling me diverse types of names. “Wow, Angel, you are a very small monkey!” Miss Catherine said in French. Sometimes, they would make these types of comments in front of my dad, who would call them out on it thinking they would stop. 


But, as soon as we got to our small apartment, the police would be at our doorstep interrogating my parents for a “crime” they committed. They would ask questions: if he was sober, physically abused my sister and me (apparently, my educators found bruises on me), and other types of questions. At the age of four in 2009, my younger sister was born, and we were running out of space in our little apartment. On top of that, our drunk neighbours would call either the police or social workers on us for no reason at all. Eventually, my dad got a better job, and we moved out of Duff Court Street far away to Chateauguay for a fresh start.


The Lachine I know now has changed from the one I knew back then: the daycare has closed, the streets are a bit cleaner, and my old apartment has been painted white. I definitely felt so many different emotions when I came back to that place because I was so young, not understanding that the reason why people treated my family differently was because of my skin color. But I feel very happy considering more people are immigrants who living in those apartments, and the fact that I will not be returning to that place anytime soon.

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