Q is for Québec and Questions

I love a certain French-speaking Canadian province and I don’t care who knows it.  🙂  In fact, pretty much anyone who knows me, knows that already.

Now maybe I wouldn’t if I lived there, but I’m making a real effort to learn French as it’s spoken in Québec, and to read media so I get a handle on culture and politics, etc.  I really want to understand.

It was dismaying to watch the catfight that erupted after Jacques Martin was fired as the coach of the Canadiens and the search was on for a replacement, and I’m half afraid I’ll see it again now that they’re looking for a new GM.  Some ugly things got said about French-Canadians, and some of it, at least that I saw, came from people I thought were of French-Canadian extraction.  In fact, some of it was so vitriolic that if you replaced “French” in the things I read with any other ethnic group, you’d have been accused of racism and/or hate speech.

Here’s what I don’t get (and if I’m not seeing this right because I’m on the outside, please be kind — I appreciate getting new insight so I understand things, but not if it’s the kind that comes with insults and four-letter (or more) words).  Canada’s a big country.  If you want the Canadian experience, there are 9 provinces and 3 territories, no waiting, that are not Québec.  So if you:

  1. Don’t want to learn to speak French
  2. Don’t like French-Canadian culture and
  3. Don’t like French-Canadians

why on earth would you want to live in Québec? (not counting the folks who have lived there for years — mean newcomers) And once you get there, why do you feel the need to change it to suit you? Don’t want to teach your kids in French? You could move west and go to Ontario or east, and head toward the Maritimes, all very Canadian.

I’m not talking about separatism here — that’s politics, and (in my opinion), misguided. This is just me not understanding the interaction — some of which is no doubt driven by history.

So, would someone explain?  Calmly? Thank you.

3 thoughts on “Q is for Québec and Questions

  1. This question is essentially a Montréal one. There aren’t many people, I’d guess, who’d move elsewhere in Québec and choose deliberately to not integrate into French.

    Montréal is different. It’s got two language groups, French and English. There are universities, schools, newspapers, bars (i.e., virtually everything) available to speakers of both languages.

    Someone may choose to go to Montréal to study at the anglophone McGill University, make anglophone friends, live in an anglophone neighbourhood, etc., without ever really needing to come into contact with francophones. Find work conducted exclusively in English may be more difficult, but it’s theoretically possible if someone doesn’t deal with the public.

    The opposite is also true. A newcomer can integrate into French, go to the francophone Université de Montréal, make francophone friends, work in French, and have virtually no contact with anglophones.

    French may be the official language of the Government of Québec, but people will speak in whatever language they choose.

    A newcomer to Montréal who deliberately chooses to integrate into English with no regard to French probably does so because he’s backed up by the fact that Montréal is also an English-speaking city.

    Is this ideal? No. But it won’t change for as long as Montréal conserves its dual personality.

  2. Thanks for the answer, Felix. I just remember how confused and upset I was during the whole thing with the Habs. The more I learn about the real stuff in Quebec (not that politics aren’t real; not saying that — just real life and every day things) the more I like it. I’m always reading francophone newspapers, even when I don’t agree with them, just so I get as full a perspective as possible. I’d still like to live in QC someday, if my life works out like that. 🙂

    Thanks too for all the help your blog is for me. Keep up the good work!

    • I hope you’ll get to spend some extended time here. Montréal is a very different place, I think, compared to the way it comes across in the media, through politics, etc. I guess we can say that about all cities, but I think it’s especially true in the case of Montréal. Keep learning French and bonne continuation. 😉

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