I am a few minutes away from publishing a post on La Fontaine., but …
The events of the week kept away from you. A vein broke near my eyes. My eyes were filled with blood and one eye went from deep green to blue, but I’ve recovered. It didn’t hurt and I am recovering.
The Project: no Language Laws
I will first get in touch with Champlain-Lennoxville, the Advantage programme. Reforms are necessary, and French-speaking students have been enrolling in English-language Cégeps for several decades. It’s their English-language immersion finishing schools and there is no tuition fee. I must then talk to Justin Trudeau and François Legault. Attending a Cégep after grade eleven does not threaten a student’s knowledge of French.
The more difficult step is convincing French-speaking students to have anglophones as their classmates. A few changes are needed. As a university teacher of second-language acquisition, four years at McMaster University, and I wrote articles on the subject, I have the necessary background. I have also edited books on this subject.
Interestingly, people have realized that Internet Archives, Gutenberg, Wikisource have published a wealth of free books including audio texts. I have used these to write articles of every play Molière wrote. Henri van Laun is a scholar.
I am returning to the fables of La Fontaine, but I will be busy working on a better relationship between English-speaking and French-speaking Quebecers. There has to be trust that the French will not lose their language. The Battle of the Plains of Abraham took place a long time ago. We are now a free people, and our official languages are French and English.
The conversation begins. Cégeps are the starting point. French-speaking students themselves have used Cégeps. We keep this alive.
Wherever I phone, I hear: English will follow.
Here is an introduction to Lori Weber. She speaks four languages and is an author.
Lori Weber is leaving Quebec because the Province needs serious repairs.
I am a French Canadian with mixed ancestry and considerable love for all good human beings. I want you to know that I oppose language laws and that I am not alone. Quebec made a mistake: decades of language laws without a strong mandate to enforce these. I pledge to work very hard for the repeal of language laws and I was thinking of using CEGEPS as my starting point.
Here in Sherbrooke, French-speaking Quebecers have turned Champlain-Lennoxville, the local English-language CEGEP, into an English-immersion program.
I know that you are very sad. Quebec has been your home for many years. No one wants to leave Montreal. It’s a jewel and it is vibrant.
It’s a promise. Language laws will be abolished by Québécois themselves. You know that it will work because you have been a teacher to Québécois.
Hang in there. The Language Laws will be abolished for many reasons. Québécois will not lose their language, unless they continue passing language laws.
Bill 21 is an act respecting the laicity of the state. One cannot wear/display signs of a religious affiliation in the workplace. Bill 96 is an act respecting French as the official and common language of Quebec
Winter has come. I was 78 in July, but the photo at the foot of this post was taken on 19 September 2022. I expected to have many wrinkles by the age of 78, but I don’t. However, I have aged. My skin is rather transparent, and my lips are thinner. Moreover, my memory fails me and when night falls, past events leap upon me. I regret some of the decisions I have made.
But the business of the day is the purchase of a computer. I needed help choosing the right computer. So, I am in Magog where my friend John helped me to choose a good computer and set it up. I should have replaced the former computer a year ago, but a Covid vaccine caused pericarditis and gout.
These are difficult years: Covid, Putin invading Ukraine, inflation, and a devastatingly sick climate!
The Language Laws
I will no longer discuss Quebec’s language laws. I had to speak English during the decades I lived outside Quebec, but I was in a very friendly environment, and the difficulties I faced were not related to my mother tongue.
The Treaty of Paris, signed on 10 February 1763, was a tragic event for the citizens of New France, the Canadiens. Jacques Cartier discovered Canada in 1534, and Port-Royal (Acadie) was settled in 1605, three years before the city of Quebec was settled. Therefore, in 1763, Nouvelle-France had been a French colony for 229 years. In fact, France possessed a large territory in North America, where it barely settled. Canadiens lived on the shores of the St Lawrence River, where they were censitaires, seigneurs, members of the clergy, habitants, and voyageurs. Censitaires paid “cens et rentes” to their seigneur as well as la dîme (tithe) to their curé, Parish priest. They had tilled their “thirty acres” since the early 1620s. Habitants were a new social type. They owned their house, farmed, and some engaged in the fur trade. They were “Americans.” (See Habitant, The Canadian Encyclopedia.)
Le régime seigneurial a engendré un nouveau type social dont il consolide les intérêts: l'habitant indépendant, exempt d'impôt personnel, propriétaire de sa terre, très mobile à cause de la traite et de l'abandonnance des terres, libérés des corvées seigneuriales et sur le même pied que le seigneur vis-à-vis les pratiques communautaires.
Many were the legendary voyageurs who travelled to the countries above, “les pays d’en Haut” (1610-1763), in canoes Amerindians built. By and large, the people of New France had a good relationship with future Canada’s Amerindians. Given Nouvelle-France’s cold climate, the French needed Amerindians to settle and earn their living. They never colonised the Indigenous people of North America, but sins were committed. Canadiens gave trinkets and alcohol to Amerindians in return for precious pelts. Amerindians guided explorers and voyageurs and opened up the North American continent. In fact, voyageurs married Amerindians. When the beaver neared extinction, the French still went to the countries above, “les pays d’en Haut.” They were bûcherons, lumberjacks, and draveurs, river drivers.
Adario le Sauvage discute avec Lahontan le civilisé; et ce dernier a le mauvais rôle. A l'Évangile Adario oppose triomphalement la religion naturelle. Aux lois européennes, qui ne cherchent à inspirer que la crainte du châtiment, il oppose une morale naturelle.
[Adario the Savage discusses with Lahontan, the civilized; and the latter plays the bad role. To the Gospel, he opposes, triumphant, natural religion. To European laws that seek only to instill fear, he opposes a natural moral.]
Besides, not only had France been in North America for two centuries, but the Battle of the Plains of Abraham lasted less than a half-hour, and it was fought between uneven forces. Should such a battle cost so much to a nation? New France was a nation. During the Seven Years’ War, France and its allies were waging war against the British and their allies, each side seeking world hegemony.
In the days of empires and colonies, the loss of New France and France’s vast territory in North America was mostly collateral damage Colonies were forgettable. The Duc de Choiseul hoped France would regain its North American colonies, but France “needed peace.” (See Treaty of Paris 1763, Wikipedia.) So, the Thirteen Colonies would soon declare their independence while a foreigner entered New France. The first rule had been to assimilate the French in Canada, and the first résistance would be a struggle to preserve the French language manifested in Quebec’s current language laws. Bill 22, 1974; Bill 101 (the Charter of the French Language, 1977); and Bill 96 (2021). Moreover, the “foreigner” inhabits the mind of members of the Patrie littéraire and Félix-Antoine Savard’s Menaud maîre-draveur (1937), the literary schools created after Lord Durham stated that Canadiens lacked history and literature. Works associated with the Patrie littéraire, the literary homeland listed on Canadiana.2 page.
Jeffery Amherst could not understand the Canadien‘s grief. He was British, and the British had won the war. He would be returning to Britain, which would soon be a large empire. As for France, it would remain France and survive a regicidal Revolution.
Much land that had been owned by France was now owned by Britain, and the French people of Quebec felt greatly betrayed at the French concession. The commander-in-chief of the British, Jeffery Amherst noted, “Many of the Canadians consider their Colony to be of utmost consequence to France & cannot be convinced … that their Country has been conceded to Great Britain.”
Under the Treaty of Paris (1763), France chose to cede Nouvelle-France, a colony and a province of France. It also ceded land east of the Mississippi River, part of Louisiana. France kept two small islands off the coast of Newfoundland, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. These would accommodate French fishermen. France also kept sugar-rich Martinique and Haiti. The British had won the Seven Year’s War. However, France had ceded a small nation to Britain.
Earlier, in 1713, at the Treaties of Utrecht, or Peace of Utrecht, France had ceded Acadia, one of the two provinces of New France, Newfoundland, and territory bordering the Hudson Bay. Between 1755 and 1758, the British expulsed Acadians. Imperialism was ruthless. The Expulsion may have been caused by conflicts between priests from France and New Englanders mainly. Father Le Loutre’s War lasted between 1749 and 1755, the year the Acadians of Grand-Pré were deported. The map below shows the territory lost in 1713 (mauve) and the territory ceded at the Treaty of Paris in 1763 (blue).
The Quebec Act of 1774: a Period of Grace …
It was not altogether a “period of grace,” but James Murray and Sir Guy Carleton were kind to the defeated Canadiens. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 directed James Murray to assimilate the Canadiens. However, after the Treaty of Paris (1763), only a few British Americans moved to the former New France, so few that many Canadiens did not notice they had lost their land. Besides,
As governor of the former New France, Murray opposed repressive measures against French Canadians, and his conciliatory policy led to charges against him of partiality. Although exonerated, he left his post in 1768 and was appointed governor of Minorca in 1774.
No sooner did New France fall to Britain than it attempted to assimilate its new subjects. Governor James Murray failed because the Canadiens were too numerous. Besides,
He [James Murray] was recalled in 1766, but he was exonerated. His replacement was Guy Carleton, (later) 1st Baron Dorchester), who was expected to carry out the policy of the proclamation. However, Carleton soon came to see that the colony was certain to be permanently French. He decided that Britain’s best course was to forge an alliance with the elites of the former French colony—the seigneurs and the Roman Catholic church.
Seigneurial System: New France’s River Lots (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
James Murray’s replacement, Sir Guy Carleton, negotiated the Quebec Act of 1774 with Seigneurs and the clergy. It restored the Seigneurial System and excluded the Test Acts. One did not have to renounce Catholicism to enter the civil service or hold public office. It pleased seigneurs and the Clergy, whose income it guaranteed, but censitaires begrudged the Quebec Act. They would have to pay cens, rente and la dîme (tithe), an obligation not rigidly observed during l’Ancien Régime in New France. Except for the conditions of his tenure, there were times when the censitaire showed complete independence in his relationship with the master of the mansion. He did not recognize his authority, and seigneurs exerted no influence on his opinions:
[H]ors des conditions de sa tenure, le censitaire possédait en fait et manifestait à l'occasion une pleine indépendance à l'égard de son maître du manoir. Il ne lui reconnaissait ni autorité sociale, ni emprise sur ses opinions.
Yet, flawed as it was, the Quebec Act of 1774 can be seen as the Bill of Rights granted Canadiens. It placed the censitaires under the rule of seigneurs and the clergy, an unfortunate precedent. But it also put French-speaking and English-speaking citizens of an enlarged Province of Quebec on an equal footing, or almost. In earlier posts, I have compared the Quebec Act of 1774 to the Royal Proclamation of 1763. In both cases, these are letters patent for both Amerindians and the defeated French.
The British parliament passed the Constitutional Act of 1791. The Constitutional Act separated a down-sized Province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada. Most English-speaking citizens would live in Upper Canada under the Common law. Lower Canada would be home to Canadiens and would keep its Civil law. However, Lower Canada’s Eastern Townships would belong to United Empire Loyalists who, initially, did not allow Canadiens to settle in the Townships, a policy that changed when factories opened in the Townships, creating a need for employees. These were French Canadians and the Irish who had been driven away from their homeland by the Great Famine, a potato famine.
When Canadian provinces federated, Manitoba had as many English-speaking citizens as it had francophones. However, John A. Macdonald, the father of Confederation, acted as though Canada had just begun. He did not negotiate the entry of Manitoba into the Canadian Confederation. Land surveyors arrived at the Red River unannounced and prepared to transform long, narrow lots abutting a river into square lots. The river was a highway: a canoe in summer, a sleigh in winter, not to mention skating blades. Louis Riel embodies a flawed Confederation. The Canadian government simply arrived. Moreover, in 1867, Manitoba had separate schools, French and Catholic (the French were Catholics) and English. John A. Macdonald also began applying Macaulayism.
In the infamous Residential Schools, Indigenous children were punished if they spoke a native language. So harsh a fate did not befall French Canadians. Still, as Canada unfolded westward, the children of immigrants had to attend “uniform” schools or schools where the language of instruction was English. John A. Macdonald minoritised the French in Canada. Moreover, French Canadians could not leave the province of Quebec if they wanted their children to be educated in French. He, therefore, created the “schools” question and the “Quebec” question. He made the “Canada” question.
In the eyes of Europeans, the defeat of France on the North American continent may have been, as I have named it: “collateral damage.” Although the French and their allies lost the Seven Years’ War. France remained as it was. As for New France, it was a colony in the eyes of European belligerents in the Seven Years’ War, the European theatre of the French and Indian War. Besides, at the beginning of the French and Indian Wars, New France was home to 60,000 settlers. (See French and Indian War, Wikipedia.)
Americans view the French and Indian War as more than the American theater of this conflict; however, in the United States the French and Indian War is viewed as a singular conflict which was not associated with any European war. French Canadians call it the guerre de la Conquête (‘War of the Conquest’).
Confederation hurt Canada. Minoritising French-speaking Canadians jeopardised their survival. As immigrants arrived in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and elsewhere, their children were educated in “uniform” schools, schools where the language of instruction was English. If Québécois wanted their children to be educated in their mother tongue, they remained in Quebec. It is difficult to ascertain whether John A. Macdonald was aware that he was introducing Macaulayism in Canada, thereby creating the “Quebec question.” He was an Orangeman from Ontario.
Louis Riel was a Métis and a Catholic, educated in Montreal. He is a controversial and tragic figure. He embodies a flawed Confederation and the “schools” question. In 1867, Manitoba had “separate” schools. Moreover, Riel did not expect surveyors to arrive at the Red River ready to cut long and narrow lots abutting a river into square lots. These river lots were used as a highway. During the summer, a boat sat on the river. In winter, a sleigh replaced the ship. These were New France’s river lots.
So, Riel formed a provisional government and allowed the execution of Thomas Scott, which would cost him his life. It is difficult to ascertain whether John A. Macdonald was aware of Macaulayism. In Residential Schools, Indigenous children were punished if they were caught speaking a native language. As Canada unfolded westward, the children of immigrants had to attend “uniform” schools. The “schools” question begins in Manitoba, where language and religion cloud the issue. The French were Catholics. In Ontario, the debate is about language.
The Ontario schools question was the first major schools issue to focus on language rather than religion. In Ontario, French or French-language education remained a contentious issue for nearly a century, from 1890 to 1980, with English-speaking Catholics and Protestants aligned against French-speaking Catholics.
Quebec was the victim of John A. Macdonald’s “uniform” schools or schools where the language of instruction was English. Quebec was the only province where children could be educated in French. So, the children of immigrants to Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and elsewhere entered English-language or “uniform” schools. The “schools” question was fought in Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and elsewhere. “Uniform” schools created an imbalance. Most Canadians spoke English only.
After Confederation, French Canadians could not leave Quebec if they wanted their children to be educated in French. Consequently, Québécois view Quebec as their province. Moreover, historically, Quebec is the older Canada. Therefore, Quebec passes language laws to build a workplace in Quebec.
A “DISTINCT” SOCIETY
There has been no formal separation of Quebec from Canada, but John A. Macdonald separated Quebec from other provinces of Canada. The “schools” question justifies unilingualism. Besides, Quebec is a “distinct society,” despite hesitancy. (See Quebec as a Distinct Society, The Canadian Encyclopedia.) I doubt that Québécois see Québec as a province. A unilingual province within a bilingual country is a province. However, the view that Quebec is a “distinct” society has often been expressed. But this view has opponents.
Denis Monière, Le Développement des idéologies au Québec des origines à nos jours, Éditions Québec/Amérique, 1977.  Jean-Pierre Wallot, « Le Régime seigneurial et son abolition au Canada » (Canadian Historical Review, l, 4, décembre 1969, p. 375.) (Quoted by Denis Monière, p. 61.)  Paul Hazard, La Crise de la conscience européenne, (Paris: Fayard, 1961), p. 12. Gustave Lanctôt, Le Canada et la révolution américaine (Montréal: Beauchemin, 1965), p. 82. (Quoted by Denis Monière, p. 103.)
The figures I provided in my last post were misleading. I put the post aside.
In the sombre days of imperialism and colonialism, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald created “uniform” schools where English was the language of instruction. He minoritized French-speaking Canadians. As immigrants arrived in Canada, their children had to attend English-language schools. Children could not be educated in French outside Quebec. He made Quebec their only home.
Québécois would like to retain their language. They have done so since Nouvelle-France fell to Britain. But the obligatory francization of businesses is unacceptable. Quebec is trying to assimilate its anglophone population and drive it away from Quebec. No company should be asked to obtain a Certificate of Francization. Quebec is a province of Canada, and Canada is officially bilingual. Moreover, anglophones have the right to bilingual services in such areas as the Eastern Townships.
John A. Macdonald created uniform schools, and l’Office de la langue française is creating a uniform province.
The figures (list of colleges) I am providing show that Quebec is home to both anglophones and francophones. I would hate to think that we cannot live together happily. Many Anglophones live in Montreal. They have their literature, songwriters, artists, and institutions. McGill University is a monument to the world of learning.
Doctors at the Montreal Neurological Institute work miracles. Imagine Quebec has the Montreal Neurological Institute, but Quebecers cannot find a doctor. That situation is infamy. So much of our tax dollars is spent on doctors, but medicine is deficient in Quebec.
In the field of linguistics, the word allophone means “other sound.” It is used to describe when a phoneme (the smallest unit of sound in speech) sounds slightly different depending on how it is used in a word. In Canada, this idea of “other sound” is applied to the notion of languages other than French or English. (See Allophone, The Canadian Encyclopedia)
(See Language Demographics of Quebec, Wikipedia)
Having provided figures, we are returning to the subject of Language Laws in Québec.
In 1974, five years after Canada passed the Official Languages Act of 1969, the Liberal Government of Quebec, under Robert Bourassa, passed Bill 22. Bill 22 made Quebec a unilingual (French) province in an officially bilingual country. Many Canadians could not believe that Quebec had declared itself unilingual after the “Canada” question had been solved. The Official Languages Act of 1969 had been passed. So, when Bill 22 was passed, there was an exodus of English-speaking Montrealers, the Province of Quebec’s best taxpayers. They moved to Toronto but soon moved to Calgary and Vancouver. These were their favourite destinations. Bill 101 (The Charter of the French Language) was passed in 1977 by René Lévesque‘s Parti Québécois. Bill 96 updates The Charter of the French Language. It was passed in 2021 under François Legault‘s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government.
Introduced by Camille Laurin, Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language (1977) made French the official language of the Government and the courts of Quebec. French became the "normal, everyday language of work, instruction, communication, commerce and business." (See Bill 101, the Canadian Encyclopedia.)
The validity of Bill 22 (1974), passed under the Liberal government of Robert Bourassa, and Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language (1977), passed under René Lévesque‘s Parti Québécois, and Bill 96, a continuation of Bill 101, passed by François Legault‘s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) has been questioned. It is an assimilative process. Bill 96 is a continuation of Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language. The majority of Quebec’s citizens are francophones, but Quebec has anglophone citizens. As mentioned above, the Eastern Townships of the province of Quebec are a bilingual area, as are other communities. Besides, many anglophones live in the Greater Montreal Area.
Quebec may wish to make French the “normal, everyday language of work, instruction, communication, commerce, and business.” Still, Quebec is not universally unilingual and therefore promotes unilingualism in an officially bilingual country. Moreover, francisation comes at a price. In the workplace, businesses are supervised by the Office québécois de la langue française, which jeopardizes “doing business,” a foolish policy and one that is calculated to drive anglophones away from Quebec. Businesses are not language schools. Language laws also penalize businesses and other groups (numbers matter) that are not contributing substantially to Quebec’s francization. Companies must comply with Quebec’s francization or be punished.
It must also report to the Office every three years on the use of French in the business.
Languages have terminologies. There are languages within languages. Does l’Office québécois de la langue française have examiners who know all terminologies? But, more importantly, if a bilingual and competent employee can no longer bear the burden of francization, will he or she stay in Quebec. No, he or she will not. Therefore, I genuinely fear losing the experts currently managing my pension fund. They are bilingual, but what I need is their expertise. Competence is my first criterion.
Competence and Francization
On 4 October 2021, I was diagnosed with pericarditis in an emergency ward, but my new doctor told me to buy Voltaren. I still have a large toe. One can develop gout as a result of pericarditis. I had at least five attacks a week for four months of what felt like a heart attack before my doctor prescribed medication. Had it not been for doctors at the Magog hospital emergency room, I would not have been medicated. That happy period lasted two weeks. So, give me a competent doctor. I’ll struggle with the terminology.
I am told that if a business, or other entity, needs a translator, it must be at the cost of this business. Where will this business find a translator? My father worked as a translator for the Canadian Poultryman, which has a new name. He dutifully learned everything about chicken and eggs in French and English, but he could not retire. His employer could not find a replacement for him. So, the magazine is no longer published in French and English. There are steps. First, one learns the language. The article will not otherwise make any sense.
Small localities in the Eastern Townships may have services in English, but if the population drops below the “acceptable” number, they will lose these benefits. If Bill 101/96 is respected, the anglophone population will fall below the good number. Moreover, people are receiving government documents in French only. These used to be issued in French and English. Canada remains an officially bilingual country.
As you know, I oppose language laws. Languages are learned at home and in schools. French-speaking Quebecers, Québécois have been enrolling in English-language cégeps (Collège d’enseignement général et professionnel). Cégeps are a two-year pre-university programme, and they are public schools. Students are protesting Bill 96 because they know English is the current lingua franca and wish to learn it. It turns out that Champlain College-Lennoxville, in Sherbrooke, offers an Advantage programme. Students who require special assistance may avail themselves of the “Advantage” and “Advantage +” services. I do not know whether French-language cégeps welcome English-speaking students who wish to learn French. My work is not over.
Le parcours Avantage s’adresse aux nouveaux étudiants qui auraient besoin de temps et de soutien à la réussite pour faciliter leur transition aux études collégiales. Dans ce cheminement, les étudiants suivent plusieurs cours conçus à la fois pour améliorer leurs méthodes de travail et de recherche et pour mieux comprendre leur rôle en tant qu’apprenants. Bien qu’un tel parcours soit d’abord fait pour les étudiants qui ont besoin d’un soutien scolaire additionnel pour réussir au collégial, le cheminement pourrait aussi profiter grandement à ceux qui ont toujours étudié en français en leur permettant d’améliorer leurs compétences en anglais parlé et écrit ainsi qu’en lecture par des cours spécifiquement conçus à cet effet.
This approach could also benefit those who have always studied in French by allowing them to improve their knowledge of spoken and written English and reading skills in English by taking courses designed for this purpose.
John A. Macdonald created “uniform” schools where the language of instruction was English. I have not invented the term “uniform” schools. I have seen it somewhere. As immigrants settled in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, or elsewhere in Canada, they had to attend English-language schools. Quebec was the only province where children could be educated in French. It created an imbalance, and French Canadians viewed Quebec as their home. This drama unfolded in the “schools” question. In Manitoba, Catholicism clouded the issue. Did Manitobans want French schools or French and Catholic schools? But the Ontario “schools” was unambiguous.
The Ontario schools question was the first major schools issue to focus on language rather than religion. In Ontario, French or French-language education remained a contentious issue for nearly a century, from 1890 to 1980, with English-speaking Catholics and Protestants aligned against French-speaking Catholics.
(See Ontario Schools Question, The Canadian Encyclopedia)
The “Quebec” and “Canada” questions are rooted in the “schools” question. John A. Macdonald lived when the British Empire was at its apex, and he adopted Macaulayism. Thomas Babington Macauley believed that the British had an empire because they spoke English. In Residential Schools, indigenous children were punished if they spoke a native language. French-speaking children were spared that ignominy, but John A. Macdonald’s programme of anglicisation led to the growth of a primarily English-language country and Québécois were minoritized and could not leave Quebec.
Therefore, the French language must be promoted, but this sort of process usually occurs at home and in schools. I wonder if French-language cégeps would welcome English-speaking students. Cégeps are public schools. One does not pay a fee. The process could encourage French-speaking students to polish their French. Terminologies are learned after one has acquired some fluency in a second language, and terminologies are not always extremely complex. If our businessman or woman has been thoroughly frenchified, he or she will not be able to work outside Quebec or French-language countries. What will Quebec have gained?
The age of imperialism and colonialism is over. The French and English nations are Canada’s founding nations. Nations are not easily quantifiable. We, therefore, provide citizens with bilingual documents. L’École acadienne de Pomquet is a model. Pomquet is “home” to 900 inhabitants. But it is very near Antigonish and may attract anglophone students.
I am so sorry I left Antigonish. It was home, and it will always be.
I was tired the day I published this post. I had to rewrite it. I also discovered that it is not possible to tell the exact population of Quebec. I am still a little confused, but the relevant information is available
Once again, I made mistakes. I’m ageing and, perhaps, exhausted.
I wrote “learning English as a second language” instead of “learning French as a second language.”
My text should read:
In this respect, I would like to repeat that, in Quebec, learning French as a second language should be in the curriculum. Moreover, I would not prevent French-speaking students from enrolling in an English language CEGEP, a two-year post-secondary programme, or similar institutions. Finally, I would recommend improvements in teaching French as a mother tongue.
Micheline Bourbeau-Walker was my name for a very long time.
In this respect, I would like to repeat that, in Quebec, learning French as a second language should be in the curriculum. Moreover, I would not prevent French-speaking students from enrolling in an English language CEGEP, a two-year post-secondary programme, or similar institutions. Finally, I would recommend improvements in the teaching of French as a mother tongue.
Moreover, Harvard’s new course on North America’s francophonie may prove an excellent initiative. Canada’s founding nations were France and Britain, but the French opened the North American continent. Francophonie overrides the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. It also overrides the expulsion of the Acadians, many of whom live in Louisiana. Moreover, 900,000 French Canadians moved to the United States between 1830 and 1930. They could not find work in Canada. They may no longer speak French, but they are part of North America’s francophonie.
La Patrie littéraire, the Literary Homeland
I could not write my book on Molière during my last sabbatical leave because I was asked to prepare two new courses: Animals in Literature and a course on contemporary Quebec literature. That year, however, I lectured in Stuttgart, Germany. One of my lectures was on la patrie littéraire, the literary homeland. In his Report on the Rebellions of 1837-1838, Lord Durham stated that French Canadians had no history and no literature.
They are a people with no history, and no literature. The literature of England is written in a language which is not theirs; literature which their language renders familiar to them, is that of a nation from which they have been separated by eighty years of a foreign rule, and still more by those changes which the Revolution and its consequences have wrought in the whole political, moral and social state of France.
My contribution to this concept is an analysis of Antonine Maillet‘s Pélagie-la-Charrette, the above-mentioned La Patrie littéraire: errance et résistance. Pélagie-la-Charrette is a novel which earned its author, Antonine Maillet, the prestigious Prix Goncourt 1979. The novel features Pélagie, the narrator, and a group of Acadians travelling up the east coast of the United States pulling a cart, la charrette. They are returning to Acadie. Pélagie presents her characters as “the son of” or “the daughter of:” le fils à or la fille à: “Bélonie à Bélonie,” providing a lineage for her characters. Our ancestors are larger than we are. They validate us. So, Pélagie-la-Charrette is an anamnèse and a creation of things past. The term anamnèse is used in medicine where it lists the medical antecedents of a patient, but Pélagie-la-Charette is also uneanamnèse. Pélagie builds a past.
I will close here, concluding, first, that French should be in the curriculum in Quebec’s English-language schools and that the teaching of French as a mother tongue could be revised. I also wish to emphasize that a nation may be une patrie littéraire. French Canada will always be a sum of its literary works and other achievements.
I wrote a long post on the background of Quebec’s “Language Laws.” The post is too long and language laws will not yield a positive result. If a new language law is passed, Anglophones are perturbed, and many leave Quebec, which hurts Quebec. Several Quebec Anglophones are the descendants of United Empire Loyalists. The Eastern Townships of the province of Quebec were given to them. It became their home.
In the 19th century, the British Empire was at its apex. So, Thomas Babington Macaulay recommended that the language of higher instruction in India be English. His policy, called Macaulayism, spread to other British colonies. Thomas Babington Macaulay was a fine man, but Britain’s success in accumulating colonies led to a belief that English was a superior language. One can understand Thomas Babington Macaulay’s belief, but it is not necessarily accurate. Macaulay was a product of his time.
I would recommend that language laws be abolished and that anglophones study French. However, if the teaching of French became compulsory, anglophones may think their rights and values are scorned. Quebec has bilingual areas. The Eastern Townships of Quebec are bilingual, and many Montrealers are anglophones. Bill 96 further restricts the use of the English language in these areas. Business must be carried out in French to a greater extent and more documents issued by the government of Quebec will not be available in French. Restrictions also include medical care, which is very personal.
As well, Bill 96 affects francophone students. French-speaking Québécois often enrol in an English-language Cégep to learn English. Cégeps offer a two-year programme following secondary school. Access to English-language Cégeps will be restricted.
The number of students in English-language CEGEPs, as a proportion of overall students, can’t be higher than it was the school year before and cannot surpass 17.5 per cent of the overall student population in Quebec.
When New France fell to Britain, at the Treaty of Paris, 1763, its governors were directed to assimilate the French, but it could be that they could not assimilate the French. The Act of Union (1840) was a purposeful attempt to assimilate the French, but Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine built a bilingual and bicultural Province of Canada. However, John A. Macdonald favoured schools where the language of instruction was English, “uniform” schools. French Canadians had to remain in Quebec to be educated in the French language. Therefore, immigrants and refugees who arrived in Canada, the prairies mostly, attended “uniform” schools or schools where the language of instruction was English. This created an imbalance that may not change, and which is reflected in Quebec’s controversial language legislation. The term “uniform” is not mine, but it was used in the literature I read.
So, John A Macdonald minoritised French Canadians. Quebec was the only province where French-speaking Canadians could be educated in French. Therefore, Quebec passes language laws that irritate its anglophone citizens, which summarises the “Quebec” question. The governments of other Canadian provinces do not pass language laws. The English language is not a threatened species and French can be learned at school. Finally, minority language rights are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
[t]he school is the single most important institution for the survival of the official language community, which is itself a true beneficiary under section 23 of the Charter (Arsenault-Cameron at paragraph 29; (CSF de la C-B 2016, at paragraph 367).
I will publish my long post, but the above suffices. In my opinion, language laws deepen the rift between francophones and anglophones. The alternative to language laws is bilingual education. Anglophones could encourage their children to learn French. Learning a second language benefits a child. However, anglophones cannot be compelled to have their children educated in a language other than English. It will not work. Ideally, one should wish to know French.
French is one of Canada’s two official languages, which does not mean that every Canadian should know the two languages. But Quebec anglophones cannot ignore Canada’s officially bilingual and bicultural status. I no longer want to hear someone boast that his or her nephew or niece studied at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Quebec, or a Montreal university and managed not to learn a word of French. One does not boast about such a relative. Failure to learn French while living in Quebec is not an achievement. I took courses in musicology at Bishop’s University. It’s a fine school.
Harvard University will now offer a course on francophonie. This, I believe, is a step in the right direction. A similar approach could be offered in Quebec’s English-language universities. It may lead to an understanding of Canada’s Official Languages Acts.
Yes, anglophones in Quebec have a right to live in English. I suppose that during the decades I lived outside Quebec, I also had the “right” to speak French, but English was my everyday language. In Antigonish, Nova Scotia one speaks English. Fortunately, I was a university teacher of French, which allowed me to express myself in my mother tongue.
Let me quote Lord Durham (John Lambton, 1st Earl of). John Lambton was asked to investigate the Rebellions of 1837-1838 and to present a report and recommendations. He wrote the following:
I entertain no doubts as to the national character which must be given to Lower Canada; it must be that of the British Empire; that of the majority of the population of British America; that of the great race which must, in the lapse of no long period of time, be predominant over the whole North American Continent. Without effecting the change so rapidly or so roughly as to shock the feelings and trample on the welfare of the existing generation, it must henceforth be the first and steady purpose of the British Government to establish an English population, with English laws and language, in this Province, and to trust its government to none but a decidedly English legislature.
After a life of unremitting service to her people, our dear Queen has died. Elizabeth II was always there for us. Such devotion is legendary is so is her love for her husband and family. She and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, will remain a model to the world. We were the privileged witness of an unwavering love story.
As a young woman, Elizabeth promised unflinching commitment to her subjects, but her love for Philip of Edinburgh was as constant as her love for her people. Theirs was the love story of a century. We are privileged to have been the subjects of a Queen whose stability comforted her people, despite a multitude of trials. Elizabeth’s reign was exemplary in so many ways.
Her death saddens us, but she will live in the memory of all who loved her.
Rest in peace, Elizabeth. You will never be forgotten.