‘It’s so disrespectful’: Language dispute at Quebec condo building over COVID-19 sign

Click to play video 'War of words over signage at Ahuntsic-Cartierville condo complex' War of words over signage at Ahuntsic-Cartierville condo complex
The granddaughter of an elderly couple living in an Ahuntsic condo building is furious, after the condo association posted COIVD-19 health directives in French only inside the building. Melina Migiakis says she was so angry, she wrote a note on the sign asking that it be translated in to English. As Global's Dan Spector reports, that has led to a war of words between Migiakis and the condo association. – Oct 21, 2020

Melina Migiakis is furious with the administration at the Ahuntstic-Cartierville condo building her elderly grandparents call home over posted signs about COVID-19 restrictions.

“It’s so disrespectful. It’s so degrading,” she told Global News.

Her anger was sparked by signs explaining COVID-19 measures banning people from accepting most visitors, written in French only. Her Greek immigrant grandparents don’t have a strong understanding of French.

READ MORE: Montreal ‘progressing in the right way’ as coronavirus cases start to plateau, officials say

“We saw the signs about COVID-19 in the elevator. My mother and I had written on the note: ‘English, please.’ You know, we even called them. He never got back to us,” she said.

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The next time Migiakis went to bring her grandparents groceries, she saw there was a new version of the sign. It was still in French, but at the bottom of the page in smaller text, it read in English: “If you really can’t understand this very simple message, take a picture and Google translate it.”

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The notice points out that the building has few English tenants, and then says: “Do something great, learn French, it’s smart, respectful, wise, decent, etc.”

“I’m so insulted. And you know what he’s implying, right? He’s basically implying that my 86-year-old grandfather needs to go learn French, like that to me is just so disrespectful,” Migiakis said.

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“Writing something like that, politicizing it, was just like a slap in the face, really,” said Sophie Romas, Migiakis’ mother and the daughter of the elderly couple.

According to Mayor Valerie Plante, the building has no legal obligation to post signs in any language other than French, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.

“Legally, they are following along with the linguistic jurisdiction of Montreal, but in times of pandemic we should all be open to the need of having people be informed,” Plante said when asked about the situation.

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Met outside the building by Global, News Normand Croteau of the building’s condo board refused an on-camera interview. He accused Migiakis of being the one to escalate the situation by defacing the original sign. He said it’s not his responsibility to post any signs at all.