Go for a stroll on Mont-Royal on a crisp fall day. Stand at one of its lookouts and gaze over downtown Montreal, compact and vibrant below, the St. Lawrence threading around the island. You'll feel Canadian history in the wind and earth.
If Toronto is brains and brawn, Montreal is heart and soul.
Dawson College is the CEGEP I attended in the early 80s. CEGEPs (collèges d'enseignement général et professionnel) are unique in Canada, prep schools for university or the skilled trades - heady places for kids fresh out of grade 11.
Back then, Dawson was housed in an old drug factory, the irony not lost on the school's many liberal arts students.
My first day, nervous about making new friends, I bounded up the stairs leading into the campus with the other kids. On the side of the building, spray-painted in huge letters, the message ENVER HOXHA HAS CRABS greeted us. (I still think it's the funniest graffiti I've ever seen). "This is going to be okay," I thought.
My years at Dawson were the most carefree of my life - mornings and afternoons spent filling my mind with literature study, film analysis, television production, the odd science course. More often than not, I skipped class to hang out in the school "pub" drinking tea, smoking joints and forming lifelong friendships. Together we weathered the stormy, sometimes extreme emotions of young adulthood.
Too bad Kimveer Gill never got the chance.
Too bad this seething, hateful young man couldn't experience the academic society he despised. Too bad he targeted an institution that might have brought him inspiration. Too bad he preferred the false intimacy of the Internet.
Too bad one of the other Vampire Freaks on the Web didn't stir from his or her tortured swamp of self, have the objectivity to read Gill's blog and reply with an "Are you okay? Wanna go for tea and talk about it?"
No one really posts blogs to share. People post blogs because they hope for an audience. Kimveer Gill posed for the camera. Posed. Too bad he didn't have a good friend instead of an online "community." Too bad he didn't have a teacher to steer him in a constructive direction.
Dawson College and its beautiful minds will overcome.
Montreal will recover. Pain will be endured. And Enver Hoxha has and will always have crabs.