Ok, put an X on your calendar. I am about to talk about politics, and that’s not something you’ll see often.
Nikki, from Flying Through Water has chosen the theme independence for her fourth week of Penguin Prompts… I am guessing it has to do with the fact that Americans celebrated Independence Day this week. Happy Holiday, a bit late, to you all… But I am going to go a little bit further back for my independence prompt.
June 24th is St-Jean Baptiste day in Québec. As in many countries, this holiday was originally one to celebrate Summer solstice. St-Jean Baptiste was first celebrated in 1834 (guess the date!), when Ludger Duvernay organized a large buffet, to unite French and English Canadians… The party was a big success, and it became an official holiday in 1926.
For many Québécois, St-Jean Baptiste is a yearly reminder of the two referendums that took place in 1980 and 1995. Both times, people in Québec voted for (or against) the province’s independence from Canada. The first time, 40,44% were in favor of it, and in 1995, 49,42%… Needless to say that it is a matter that divides Québec pretty much in halfs.
I will not discuss whys and hows of an eventual independence, or the impacts it would have. I am not wise enough when it comes to politics… But I am on the Yes side. I think Québec is a very special piece of land in North America, and should run itself and have the power to protect its identity and uniqueness.
I was just a few months short of being allowed to vote, when the second referendum took place. I remember the campain that was held before the vote, and the passions that the whole thing provoked. Both my parents were in favor of working hard to have our own country, and what sealed my opinion was something we saw the night of the vote.
Now, I want to make something clear… I have nothing against the rest of Canada. Canada is a great country, and I have many friends in other provinces, who I like a lot, and not despite their Canadianness! But there has been a duality in our country for ages, wether people want to recognise it or not, and on October 30th of 1995, I had a clear proof of it.
My parents always thought it was important that my brother and I learned English. We very well could have lived without it in Québec. But it was a useful tool to get better jobs, it is Canada’s other official language, and it would allow us to interact easily with people outside Québec.
I don’t use English that often, aside from here in The Cove and at work.
But on Referendum night, I was glad to be fluent… And here’s why. That night, as the future of Québec was on the line, most French speaking Québécois were watching the French covering of the event. And, of course, the English speakers…. The English channel. My family ping ponged between the two, all night long.
While the beginning of the evening gave the impression that the Yes side would win, the English anchormen seemed to be about to shit their pants (pardon my French) and there was a suddle “OMG! OMG! OMG! They ARE going to do it… we are f*cked!!!” look on their faces… But the minute things went the other way, there was a sigh of relief in the studio. I still can’t believe what we heard that night. It wasn’t quite this clear, but the main feeling was “Pfff we knew it! They never would have dared… Darn cowards, those frogs!”
Of course, most French Québécois didn’t see that, because they weren’t watching the English channel. And those watching, were probably, thinking the same.
It highly insulted me.
I don’t care what people think in their living room. I respect people’s opinions, wether they match mine or not. Even if it seems very debatable (the “aren’t you scared of losing your Rocky Mountains?” point still makes me smile today. I haven’t gone to see them in almost 40 years…. I really don’t feel much of an attachment to them.) I am not bitter to have “lost” twice, the people have spoken. It is democracy.
But these anchormen were on national television. And their way to cover the events was disappointing to me.
Of course, when there’s a vote, there are winners and losers… It is the whole point of voting. That evening left a bitter taste behind.
I know that Québec separating from Canada would change a lot of things for the rest of the country. A lot of people want us to stay because of that. And not because Canada is such a united country.
It is a bit like an old couple that would rather stay together even if they are not happy, because they don’t want to go through the struggles of divorce.
Ughhh… Now I remember why I don’t do politics here. Now, I don’t know how to end this post, I find it clumsy and disappointing, and I don’t want to trash it, because I have spent quite some time on it even if I don’t like it.
Ok, enough serious stuff for today.
Stay tuned for more silly stuff…. I am way better with “silly”!