In the past two weeks, I have traveled to France, for the first time in my life, with two friends from Quebec, and had the thought of diving into the lush springs of our distant ancestral land. We visited Paris, Normandy, Brittany and even Vendee. What we experienced there exceeded all our expectations. Paris amazes with its magnificent architecture, grandiose monuments, and national history that is conveyed there in a triumphant manner.
Outside the City of Light, we discover a warm and united people, proud of their roots and curious to know the world. While Parisians remain indifferent to the origin of their interlocutors, the French outside Paris show a sincere happiness to meet foreigners, and even more Quebecers. I remember a statement we were told throughout our trip: Be proud of who you are. Our dialect, often mocked and even hated by many, has found a place here to proudly express itself. In Brittany, Quebec is thrown almost everywhere, just think of Place du Québec in Saint Malo, the place where Jacques Cartier left to discover what was to become our home.
In France, Quebecers find people to get to know and give them a helping hand. While the average American is unaware of the existence of Quebecers and the English Canadian reduces us to filthy racists, the Frenchman naturally sees us as a friendly people. Quickly, compliments and a desire to learn more feed pour in.
In his time, Lionel Groulkes noted, “Nothing moves French Canadians more or more important to them than to show their presence. Yes, there is something poignant in seeing a people as great as the French display a sincere curiosity for our culture, our history, and our collective aspirations. Thrown into a hostile continent, humiliated by all. Ignored by the entire world, and constantly forced to fight for an unprecedented minimum of respect, Quebec lives in a daily isolation that deeply distorts his soul.
In France he found his brothers and sisters in what was called the Motherland. The French are showing the Kicker that speaking French is not a heinous crime destined to make way for the English language. For their part, French Quebecers state that the proliferation of Anglicanism to name a parking lot or email is ridiculous.
France embodies a fine art of living, a wonderful sense of friendship and a far-reaching national standing. Along the way, I have noticed that most French people display a grumbling pessimism about the state of their country, and do not seem to realize the greatness of their nation. The same can be said of the people of Quebec, who wonderfully ignore their history, great talents, and patriotic ability to resist.
The first lesson I learned from this trip was that Quebec must make a name for itself. Of course, we are Quebecers. But what does this mean? The name “Quebecwa” carries within it the promise of true national liberation, free from all guardianship.
It was the early separatists of the Quiet Revolution who imposed it, under the leadership of René Levesque, the first modern leader who truly believed in us. Will we regain the confidence that gave us the strength to work together? It may only be my gullible youth who speak, but I believe, deeply, that we will one day succeed in giving ourselves that independence which alone can give us an existence worthy of us.
Philip Lorange Master’s Student in Sociology – UQÀM
#France #people #recognize #Quebec