400 Years of Something

This reading of history forgets how Quebec was founded by French explorers and colonised by French colonists.

Québec 400e - imposture canadian

On July 3, 1608, 400 years ago today, Samuel de Champlain, an explorer and
adventurer from Saint-Malo, founded what would become Quebec City. That
foundation began the history of what today is the province of Quebec and
the Quebecois people. Although, you'd hardly know it from how this is being
celebrated and commemorated. The decorative 'theme' isn't even blue, for
crying out loud. Blue is, of course, the symbolic colour of the province of
Quebec and, perhaps more importantly, the city itself, whose flag is blue.
Today, the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec, I'm not much in
the mood for celebrating. I love history. I studied it in university and
consider myself, at the very least, an amateur historian. I have great
respect for history. But this anniversary has been usurped for political
ends by the Canadian government. It is now being billed as the founding of
Canada, a historical distortion that has no basis in reality but every
justification in Canadian national myth-making.
This reading of history forgets how Quebec was founded by French explorers
and colonised by French colonists. That these French colonists became a
nation themselves who called this frozen corner of North America home.
It forgets that Quebec was brought into this country through violence,
force, coercion, and lack of an alternative.
It forgets that the battles of 1754-1760 were not mere battles between
Kings and Empires, but between people. Quebecers, known at the time as
Canadiens, did not sit idly by. It forgets that part of the invading force
were Americans, and that many of the invaders settled in this newly
conquered land.
It forgets that in 1759, 10,000 men from the colony converged on Quebec
City to defend their homeland from the British. These men were not servants
of the King, they were not soldiers paid to fight. They were volunteers,
from young boys to old men, who took up their hunting rifles and
voluntarily put themselves at risk to save their country from invasion. It
forgets that these 10,000 men represented about 33% of the entire male
population of the colony at the time, an incredible figure.
It forgets that Quebecers rose-up in 1837 and 1838. Not only for
democratic institutions and responsible government. They rose up so that
they could govern themselves, their own nation. They rose up so that they
wouldn't be dominated by the British and the various British colonists who
settled in what was then Lower Canada. It forgets that later, the uprising
was about full independence.
It forgets that these 'rebels' were brutally put down by the British
government. It forgets that the main perpetrators of crimes against the
French-speaking inhabitants of the colony were not British soldiers in the
service of the Empire, but English-speaking volunteers from Montreal,
Argenteuil, and the Glengarry region of eastern Ontario. It forgets that
these were the ancestors of Canadians today.
It forgets that in 1840 Quebec was denied even nominal self-government and
was united with Upper Canada so that French Quebecers would be swamped by
the anglophone majority of the Canadas.
It forgets that in 1867 Quebec joined confederation primarily to escape
this Union and to be able to govern themselves, at least internally. It
forgets that Quebec joined confederation because of pragmatism, and that
support in the province was likely a minority opinion.
It forgets how during World War I and World War II Canada went ahead with
conscription despite Quebec's strong - and stated - opposition.
It forgets how hundreds of peaceful, law-abiding sovereigntists were
jailed without being charged in 1970 because of the actions of a few young
and misguided extremists.
It forgets how the RCMP kept surveillance on René Lévesque.
It forgets who Quebec was left aside in 1982 when the Constition was
It forgets the failures of Meech Lake and Charlottetown, where Canada as a
whole denied that Quebec was anything special.
It forgets the scare-tactics and law-breaking of the NON campaign in the
1995 referendum.
It forgets the sponsorship scandal.
It forgets that Canada has spent more money on Quebec than the rest of the
country combined on Canada Day in order to buy loyalty.
It forgets the empty words of Stephen Harper and Michaelle Jean.
So, no, I'm not in the mood to celebrate. The Saint-Jean gave me enough of
a sour taste. I'm not in the mood to celebrate when not only has the day
been usurped by Ottawa, but most Quebecers don't seem to care. They just
want to party.
We've survived for 400 years with our language and culture intact. We even
have a pseudo-state to call home. But this survival has been achieved
despite ourselves and because of the work of a devoted few. If anything, we
should be celebrating the work of those who have defended Quebecers over
the years, from Vaudreuil to Papineau to Henri Bourassa to René Lévesque to
the Parti Québécois, and stop pretending we have any collective achievement
of which to be proud.
So, Happy 400th Anniversary of Something. We can't quite figure out what.
Éric Grenier
Sovereignty en Anglais
A French-Québécois-Anglophone sovereigntist tries to explain himself in his mother tongue, the nemesis language of his mère-patrie.
-- Envoi via le site Vigile.net (http://www.vigile.net/) --

Laissez un commentaire

Aucun commentaire trouvé