Why Fête Nationale is really Fête Nationaliste

Quebec invests millions in celebrating a shared national identity - too bad the organizers are separatists

La toune de Pitt Bill

What a chance to teach Quebeckers the meaning of their history. The Fête
Nationale of June 24 was traditionally called La fête de la Saint-Jean
until the secessionist Parti Québécois took office in 1976 and changed the
name to exclude French Canadians outside Quebec from the festivities. But
it was and is a truly popular revelling in a shared national identity.
Take the celebrations on Tuesday in Montreal. In addition to neighbourhood
parties, a grand parade filed through the streets in the afternoon, while,
in the evening, a grand "spectacle" put on stage many of Quebec's
best-loved musicians and singers.
Who organized these two huge events? A committee headed by Jean Dorion,
president of the separatist Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal. Almost
half of the funding is provided by the provincial government.
Mr. Dorion, in his televised opening speech for the concert, offered a
sombre sketch of Quebec's experience from the fall of New France to the
present: "This French presence survived the Conquest, foreign occupation,
the breach with the mother country, repression, unemployment and poverty.
Throughout the darkest periods, the feast of Saint-Jean continued to be
celebrated each year, in what was truly a national and cultural battle of
The afternoon parade, Mr. Dorion told me, was attended by 125,000 people,
while the evening event drew 250,000. The parade was called défilé des
géants, and 13 giant figures were its centrepiece. Most represented figures
from history: Quebec founder Samuel de Champlain, Jeanne Mance, who helped
found Ville-Marie (Montreal), and explorer and fighter Charles Le Moyne
d'Iberville. There was Ludger Duvernay, who founded the Société Saint-Jean
Baptiste, and Antoine Labelle, the priest who promoted colonization of
northern Quebec under the slogan "Let's occupy the land." There were only
two figures from recent history, both separatists: singer-composer Félix
Leclerc and René Lévesque. No one represented English-speaking Quebec,
unless one counts St. Patrick.
The evening concert was dominated by a popular trio of rappeurs called
Loco Locass. Their repertory is known for its ardent advocacy of secession.
One of their raps is called Résistance, a word associated with the Nazi
occupation of France. "We have come to speak to you about résistance,
because the history of Quebec is marked by the history of the résistance
... résistance after the Conquest ... résistance is at the centre of
Quebec's identity and defines us and makes us taller. It is a word that is
essential for the Québécois. And so we have come to speak of résistance,
and to resist further, sooner or later we must have sovereignty." They
invoked the memory of René Lévesque as the figure who showed the way to
Their call was soon echoed by poet, musician and songwriter Raôul Duguay,
who shouted: "Vive le Québec libre!"
Loco Locass came back with perhaps its most popular rap piece,
Libérez-nous des Libéraux, in which the trio rants at great length against
Jean Charest and the Liberals as the destroyers of everything that is good
and sacred in Quebec. When they mentioned the Premier, the audience booed.
No prominent federalist politician could be spotted at the concert, though
some had taken part in the parade. But standing in the front row were PQ
Leader Pauline Marois and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe.
The highlight of the celebration is le discours patriotique. On Tuesday
night, it was written and rapped by Loco Locass, though the first half was
recited against a musical background by actor Emmanuel Bilodeau, who played
René Lévesque in a three-part 2006 biopic shown on the CBC.
Here is an example of some of the lines.
They conquered our territories, pillaged our history and stole our memory
With their mad theses they told us:
[The following was spoken in a sinister tone by a member of Loco Locass
draped in a floor-length red cloak and a red and white fool's bonnet
evoking the Maple Leaf flag.]
"Shut up! You're not worth 10 sous
You are not you, you are us
You are dissolved
Our substrate subsumes and consumes you. ...
But are we going to die as dwarfs when we were born giants? ...
All told, we are unique supermen
Generated by the genetic genius of Europe and of America
Ineluctably, we are sailing toward annihilation
But are we going to die as dwarfs when we were born giants? ...
But beware of the cardiac arrest
Between death and life
The arrival of a man as at the time of a referendum
A people oscillates between being nothing and being everything that
The rap ends with poetry acting as midwife with forceps
Who draws from limbo a world to be born ...
The poet names at last the one whose head he sees emerging:
Quebec invests millions in celebrating its Fête Nationale and, in nearly
every part of the province, its organization is put in the hands of
-- Envoi via le site Vigile.net (http://www.vigile.net/) --

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