My name is Florencia

Article written by Florencia Lazcano in collaboration with the Carrefour jeunesse-emploi Montréal Centre-Ville

This piece was submitted to the Citizen Journal project of the Peter-McGill Community Council. Please note that the opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of our organization. This project aims to create space for the voices of residents, students and friends of the neighbourhood through articles, photos, videos, and podcasts in any language. Are you interested in contributing? Contact us at benevolat@petermcgill.org !    

Immigrants, refugees, ex-pats. One face, two faces… one million faces. 

Brown, black, white, the entire color palette, melting, blending, becoming one, becoming many.

I can speak about immigration. I always wanted an opportunity to do it; I feel that I’m not the only person with a thousand and one tales to tell about the odyssey that we commonly call immigration.

I had the idea of finding individuals who came to Canada from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities and, through writing, tell their stories to raise awareness. The longing to teach others how much there is a need for equality, a need for union, a desperate necessity for each of us to see past the end of our nose, followed me for a long time.

Immigration stories can teach about resilience, bring you a renewed perspective, and show you reasons to be grateful. 


If you allow me to continue, I will start by telling a bit of my own story, and if you stay, I will often bring you more narratives; I will pass the loudspeaker to those undersized voices that we might not hear, but they are indeed echoing everywhere.


I am Florencia, I am not Florence.



Nine letters; those letters compose my name. Florencia, This name was given to me by my mother as a reminder that I can grow roots anywhere; my name means to flourish, denotes spring, and blossom. 

On Christmas 2018, I saw snow for the second time in my life. I was equipped for winter, but not for this kind of winter. I was protected sufficiently to spend a few days in Montreal but not to spend a few years as I did. 

You see, the wind can hurt sometimes, faces can get wrinkly, and hands get cracked, but it’s captivating, I can’t deny it is. 

I did stay; I came because my heart brought me here; a few months after my arrival, I got married, and I had a delightful extended honeymoon until the pandemic hit hard, shutting airports, closing doors, and immigration offices, making my wait for a permit to be a legal worker and an official resident of Canada perpetual and hopeless.

When I arrived, I decided I had to do something more than visit the Old Port and take pictures of every snowy landscape I noticed. I went to The Mission Hall, Marché Bon Accueil, to volunteer. I met new faces who treated me as a sister, and I found other people who, in solitude, got together, and they did this with the single purpose of helping. I met Syrians, Colombians, Russians, and more.

The Marché Bon Accueil is a food bank. I was astonished when I started doing my volunteering hours; people of all nationalities were arriving to ask for food, some of them asking for shelter, some of them with families of two, and others with families of eight. We were feeding people in need, and I was learning. I understood things that I had never thought about before, for example, how in isolation, we can indeed be better accompanied. 

I needed that; I needed to be part of something big to stop feeling so small. I needed to find people who called my name, who cared about learning it. I was not Florence, I was Florencia, and I was not lost. I planted seeds in a new and foreign country, but my roots… were still elsewhere, which could be hard to accept.


If you go to Google and look for Ulysses Syndrome, this will be the first result you will find: Ulysses Syndrome, or emigrant syndrome with chronic and multiple stress, is a picture of extreme migratory grief, not a mental disorder that appears in immigrants who live very adverse situations (loneliness, exclusion, fear and helplessness). Dr. Joseba Achotegui from the Universitat de Barcelona coined the term “Ulysses Syndrome” in 2002.[13] It was named after the ancient Greek hero, Odysseus (Ulysses in Latin), who suffered involuntary migration and traveled for ten years through the Mediterranean to come back home from the decade-long Trojan War. The hardships of his journey are compared to the ones of contemporary migrants, who must struggle with intensely stressful, novel situations in isolation and with little help.[14] Scarcity of their resources makes it impossible to cope with and successfully adapt to the unfamiliar environment of the receiving country, which in turn leads to experiencing a range of detrimental symptoms.


I wasn’t sure why my new name was bothersome; I didn’t know why I felt touched when I had to tell people: “Just call me Florence,” but then one day, I thought, the void feeling I had when the A and the I were gone, had to have a reason. This emptiness was more than a spelling issue; I was homesick, just like Ulysses trying to return to his land.


I had decided to change countries. I merrily made my bags and said goodbye. I thought…how hard would this be? I’m the granddaughter of expatriates. I have the blood of travelers and a pair of feet that don’t like to remain still. I didn’t think twice, and I moved. I had to change languages, shift ways, and transform routines.

One of those winter mornings when all you see is white all around, and the sun hides. I felt I couldn’t cry, miss, or say anything about what I was experiencing. I thought I was insane. While other people escape their countries, fly away from poverty and wars, go as far as they can from violence, and leave everything behind without a choice, I was one of those privileged immigrants who anchored in a new country with a luggage full of sunshine and fresh hopes. 

It took me a while to recognize what was happening. I comprehended that even if we love our new place in the world, regardless of the motives, regardless of what the world expects us to feel, it’s relatively common to think that every day we are possibly a little bit further from our roots, that we have days of not saying a word in our mother tongue. It’s normal to feel that everyone is a stranger and that the new pillow doesn’t keep the same dreams we left in our old one.


“You ask me my name. I shall tell you. My name is nobody, and nobody is what everyone calls me” (Odyssey, Song IX, 360). 


My name is Florencia, my name is not Florence. I have a heart that beats on two continents, I call my house the North, and I call my home the South. 

Solitude can be a powerful beast, but during those moments of aloneness, it’s when you find brothers and sisters, and you will find yourself as well.


…Immigrants, refugees, ex-pats. One face, two faces… one million faces. Brown, black, white, the entire color palette, melting, blending, becoming one, becoming many.

I can speak about immigration, I certainly can, and so can you. 


If you wish to share your migratory story, please write an email to florenlazcano@gmail.com 


About the author :
Florencia Lazcano

My name is Florencia Lazcano. I was born in Argentina, a country populated by European immigrants who sailed across the ocean after the Second World War.

I was raised in a picturesque  Italian neighbourhood. Growing up, the stories of expats and the family background forged my personality and took me to express myself through writing from a young age.

I started at 16 working in a local newspaper.  At the age of 23, I already had two stories published in a Spanish anthology book. A few years after, I started writing for Resistiendo con ides (Holding on with Ideas, an Argentinean online magazine).


I continued my writing path and studied to become an English teacher, which allowed me to write in English, becoming my language of choice for most of my work.

My knowledge of English opened the doors for me to write for Sinful Celluloid (an American movie reviews site) and SillyLinguistics.

As if it was my destiny, I moved to Canada in 2018, following my beloved dream.  By the time the pandemic hit, I was using solitude as fuel for creative projects. 

Today my craft continues to grow, and I continue learning. My writings currently speak about immigration, love stories and others. I consider that any simple thing can be remade into poetry. 

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