The Difference Divide

I’d like to say that all te people I know happily embrace all the people of Canada equally.

But they don’t.

What’s worse is that the people who helped discover, define and protect this country during its formation are the ones that people turn their nose up at most. I’m talking about the people of La belle province, Quebec.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people talk in a derogatory way about french people, using incredibly broad generalizations about the people as a whole after maybe one encounter. No one is perfect, but to paint an entire group with one brush is racists, or in this case “culturist”?

Unfortunately, this kind of negativity has always been there, from the time the British forces took over the remains of the forts and lands owned by France centuries ago. It’s no wonder that many people, throughout Canadian history, especially in the 20th century, have tried to define Quebec as a distinct society and separate it from the rest of Canada.

As I’ve watched referendums on sovereignty fail by te slimmest of margins, I ask myself if we’ve given the people of Quebec any reason to stay apart of the Great White North? The answer is no, we haven’t.

As much as many people will hate to admit it, the french of Canada have a distinct society. It stretches back to the origins of Lower Canada, through to the present day. A perfect example is the film and TV industry in Quebec. They produce TV shows and movies that the people there actually watch! Movies made in Quebec are actually shown in theaters! And people go see them! English Canadian movies are rarely seen outside artistic hubs like Toronto or Vancouver. The movies that are made are independent, art-house films. People who know this wonder why the difference? In english Canada, we watch American movies. In french Canada, they watch American movies, but they also watch home-grown movies because they are their movies. It reflects their life, their culture. American and english Canadian movies, although entertaining, don’t reflect them or their culture.

It is because of this cultural difference that the Parti Québécois was formed in 1968. Back then, their goal was to obtain political, economic, and social autonomy for the province of Quebec. Their first referendum in 1980 ended with a 60% of the people in Quebec rejecting sovereignty.  The second one, in 1995, was frighteningly close, 49.6% wanted to separate. The positive thing that came out of that second referendum was the rallying of Canadians across the country to show that their Canada included Quebec.

Today, with all the economic and social issues that everyone is dealing with, sovereignty isn’t an issue. Yet with the Parti Québécois ruling Quebec with a minority government, some people are worried that perhaps another referendum will be called.

Things is, I wonder if people would rally like they did in ’95 to save the country?

Canada is such a big country, with a comparatively small population. Many times, we ignore those farthest away so we can deal with our own issues. The West hates the East. The Northern communities are forgotten by everyone. And everyone seems to hate Quebec. I remember talk of Alberta wanting to separate from Canada like Quebec because they felt they weren’t getting the federal treatment they deserved.

But maybe that’s wat makes us Canadian. We bitch and moan about things, but in the end, we all end up at the bar, watching hockey.

Many people blame the government, at the provincial and federal levels, for all of our problems. But if Quebec ever did separate, the only people to blame would be ourselves.

You don’t think that for every english person bitching about some stupid Frenchman, their isn’t a french person doing the same about some Englishman? It isn’t what the governments do or don’t do, it what the people who vote think and how they use that vote. If some guy from Ontario has a run with a guy from Quebec, regardless of who might be at fault for whatever incident, even if they are polite to each other, both will go home and tell their friends about the stupid french/english guy. Why? Because the history. Because people have been doing that forever. In Canada and other countries, people will refer to people they have a problem with as either “this fat chick”, or “This Somalia woman”, instead of just saying “this woman”. In Canada, instead of saying “some guy” who was from Quebec, people might say “some dumbass french guy”.

When we, as a people, stop using a person’s origin, culture, or lifestyle as a negative description, then maybe that will lead to a better understanding and acceptance of those around us. We won’t be Quebecers, Somali, homosexual, Muslim, or whatever.

We’ll be people, with a fascinating back story and history.  

 

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