It’s now been more than seven months since I moved to Montreal. And recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about how this city is similar to my hometown, Tabriz.

Montreal is well-known as one of the most bilingual cities in the world, and Quebec is famous for its resistance against the Anglophone incursion. Most non-francophones in this city despise this. But for me, it’s all a very familiar and, don’t tell anyone but, welcome environment.

I’m probably one of the most Tabrizi people in the world. My family on both sides is from Tabriz as far up the family tree as we can track them. Most of our extended family live in a couple of neighborhoods in the middle of the city. So of course, I have strong ties with this place, its culture, and its language. It is what my childhood feels like.

Now, Tabriz is the only one of the seven largest cities in Iran that doesn’t speak Persian. The main language here, instead, is Azeri (or as we call it, Turki. Or as linguists call it, Southern Azerbaijani). Despite being the second most spoken language in one of the biggest countries in the world, and the main one of my two native languages, Azeri is still very ambiguous to me. I was never really taught to read or write in Azeri, and all the textbooks and novels I’d read as a kid were in Persian. Although It’s normal for a kid growing up in Tabriz to watch a lot of cartoons in Turkish, which is one of the languages closest to Azeri, but that only helped me learn another language, rather than get more acquainted with my own. So, as I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to sense how much I miss this connection with my language.

Languages in Iran, like in Canada, can be a controversial topic, often mingled with racism. Some Persians accuse Turks, Kurds, and Baluchs of being separationist or racist, and many Turks ridicule Persians as being too fancy and soft. No one is in the right, of course, and it is the system that hurts everyone, as is usually the case. But the fact remains: languages are at the hearts of people. And the heart is a painful place.

So, I understand the Quebecois. I don’t intend to advocate for Bill 96 or any of the language laws that might be considered too harsh. Hell, I don’t even speak enough French to survive in a French-only environment. But that is besides the point. Because this isn’t about advocacy, but love and identity. I understand struggling to keep the existence of your language, the thing you use to think and preserve the soul of what your childhood has felt like. And I don’t think an Anglophone could ever truly understand the feeling of not having access to the world in your true language. Which is fine, of course. No one has to truly understand everything. But I do think that in this war of languages, Anglophones need to shoulder the responsibility of confronting their linguistic entitlement. Because, let’s face it, English is not going anywhere soon. Most other languages, on the other hand, easily could.