Mural in the Plateau depicting the Great Peace of Montreal – not the work of the author
Enough is enough – we need to end the bogus fabrication that is the notion the French language is threatened in QuÃ©bec. We further need to end the on-going demonization of the so-called Anglophone community of QuÃ©bec.
It’s an unnecessary tension. It’s a scab we don’t stop picking. Anglophones and Francophones are equally guilty in perpetuating this wholly destructive linguistic war of attrition. It has cost us (and by us I mean all QuÃ©becois regardless of mother tongue) our prestige, our status, our wealth and the weight we once had to steer the Canadian ship of state.
I want QuÃ©bec to wield the same political and economic sway we had back in the 60s and 70s. I want QuÃ©bec to grow to hold a steady quarter of the national population, perhaps more. And I want us to invest in ourselves, and to plan strategically, so that the future isn’t robbed from our children by our myopia, but is instead guaranteed by our foresight. I want progress, prosperity and peace for our people – my people.
And doing all this, committing to this, starts with a single act – a burying of the hatchet between the two major-minorities; the Anglo-QuÃ©becois and French Quebecers must make peace in a very real, tangible way.
If we don’t, we can at best only guarantee stasis. At worst, we’ll eventually instigate the conflagration that finishes Canada once and for all. And I don’t mean that as a call to arms – far from it. I can only lament the fact that as human beasts we are more than capable of Balkanizing North America. Thus, a second Great Peace of MontrÃ©al, so that our city doesn’t suffer a fate worse than Sarajevo. If you honestly think such a thing could never occur here, I can only respond that you should never underestimate how idiotic and hopelessly, tragically violent human beings are. What sets us apart and what gives us our strength is that the legacy of the first Great Peace lasted for so long, and I believe has ingrained itself deeply enough in our collective psyche. But with the recent shit-fit concerning the status of the French language in QuÃ©bec, though specifically in MontrÃ©al, and all the mindless aggression and vitriol which has spewed forth since, at home and throughout Canada, I firmly believe it is time to end the bullshit. And the youth of QuÃ©bec can do it, but it’s the establishment that needs to lead.
When Kondiaronk made his way to Ville Marie in 1701 he did so at his own peril. He knew he’d likely not survive the trip; though they knew not of communicable disease, they knew close contact could bring about sickness. Regardless, Kondiaronk, the great Huron leader, pressed on and committed to seeking a lasting peace between the various First Nations in the region and the imperial French. Can we not do the same today? Can we not seek to establish a linguistic peace in MontrÃ©al?
The Anglo-QuÃ©becois are not the enemy of the people of QuÃ©bec, they are QuÃ©becois. They have accepted French as lingua-franca. They are committed interculturalists. They represent the linguistic ideal of lived-bilingualism, and as long as the community continues to embrace these notions, and seek bonds with their French-Canadian cousins throughout Canada (as examples of the many linguistic minoritÃ©s-majoritaires in Canada), they’ll continue to represent the best we can hope for with regards to cultural integration, the best kind of voluntary cultural involvement. It’s time we (and this is an appeal to all QuÃ©becois) stop running from what could benefit us all (ergo, an end to punitive language restrictions and the continued demonization of a minority culture within QuÃ©bec, and the push for more harmonious relations between all the constituent cultures and nations of QuÃ©bec). We have the roots and the people, within the apparent solitudes, who have already shown us the way by seeking peace and integration, so why does this need to remain a case-by-case occurrence. Can we not make this a societal goal? Or do you want to tell me those who do are traitors to a cause? It’s amazing how much 19-th century rhetoric pops up in supposedly 21st century politics.
I don’t know what another Great Peace would look like, what it would constitute, who would lead it or how it could be applied. In 1701 is was straightforward, a cessation of open hostilities, the stimulation of trade and inter-ethnic cooperation. So why get bogged down in the details – we can apply those ‘old’ ideas effectively on the society we have today, and the message remains simple enough to be widely palatable. Perhaps it should be part of a great new national project, a whole new initiative to get us to stop our own pathetic demise.
Lest we recognize the whole conflict is gnawing away at the guts of a once great society for the purposes of pushing copy of a once great publishing industry. Of this both sides are guilty. It’s the problem with a society largely at peace with itself, despite what the pundits and politicians say, we’re not actually fighting each other. But for the purposes of propping the commercial interests of our own, decidedly American Yellow Press, we engage in something so deceptively innocent as a war of words. If only ours was an innocent naivetÃ© – we’ve seen what mere words can do. In the past they created genocides, yet we act as though we either conveniently forgot or else exist on a higher plane. Our negligence is criminal, as both halves rip at the other, not realizing their true nature.
I’d love to see our society as Janus.
But instead when I look at our flag I see in the field of white the outline of two angry liars, butting heads against each other while talking down to one another, their shoulders leaning in – an exclusive, self-aggrandizing national argument set between the fields of blood we had once hoped would unify us.
It’s terribly fitting, and I honestly hope it was a mistake, and not an enduring truth about the incompatibility of humanity and the futility of a national project undefined for too long as a result of our odd humility.