AngryFrenchGuy

Generation 101. A Movie About My Country.

with 30 comments

Do you feel completely integrated in Québec culture?  

This is the question Claude Godbout asks the kids of my old high school, École Secondaire Saint-Luc, in his doc Génération 101. 96% of the kids at Saint-Luc were born outside Canada.  

Trust me, those of us part of the other 4% wondered as much as anybody else.

Why should we go to school in French?  The question is as controversial now as it was then.  

Three Children of 101, a Hungarian Jew, a feminist from Palestine and a Indian from Madagascar who are now staunch supporters of the education measures in bill 101 give their answer. 

This is what my Québec looks like.

(Weird 30 second delay.  Be patient)

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Written by angryfrenchguy

September 23, 2008 at 9:44 am

30 Responses

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  1. This isn’t what my Quebec looks like.
    This is what my Montreal looks like.

    The ROQ is as multi-ethnic as the ROC is bilingual.

    Montrealer in exile

    September 23, 2008 at 10:43 am

  2. I don’t see what the big deal is about Quebec outside of Montreal not being as diverse as the big city. This is true of pretty much any place in the world, including much of BC outside of Vancouver and rural Ontario.

    Acajack

    September 23, 2008 at 12:08 pm

  3. “This isn’t what my Quebec looks like.
    This is what my Montreal looks like.

    The ROQ is as multi-ethnic as the ROC is bilingual.”

    To me this type of comment is just the new, politically correct way of dividing Québec, once again, between the French and the Others.

    And by the way, as you name suggests, I’m guessing you haven’t been for a walk in Repentigny, Trois-Rivières or Québec’s Basse-Ville in a while. It’s not Parc-Ex yet, but you’d be surprised…

    angryfrenchguy

    September 23, 2008 at 3:17 pm

  4. I went to a very multi-ethnic french primary school in an even more anglophone neighborhood than yours. Maybe that was the reason why english was basically the primary (but certainly not exclusive) language of the playground, although “pur laine” anglophones made up a very small percentage of the student body.

    I imagine my old school was similar to what some english schools would look like if they were suddenly converted to french. I don’t think it acheived the kind of integration that single-school-system advocates would hope for, but I can guarantee that every one of my classmates could man the phones at a political party headquarters.

    RoryBellows

    September 23, 2008 at 8:02 pm

  5. Looks like an interesting film; thanks for the tip. In case anyone was wondering, according to the Ex Centris website, it’s playing until at least Oct 2nd.

    PS: I got to vote for the Palestinian woman featured in the film in the last election.

    mvc

    September 23, 2008 at 11:34 pm

  6. RoryBellows: “I imagine my old school was similar to what some english schools would look like if they were suddenly converted to french.”

    Initially, this is what would certainly happen. But after a few generations French would probably take over.

    Acajack

    September 24, 2008 at 8:47 am

  7. “And by the way, as you name suggests, I’m guessing you haven’t been for a walk in Repentigny, Trois-Rivières or Québec’s Basse-Ville in a while. It’s not Parc-Ex yet, but you’d be surprised…”

    I wasn’t going to share a personal anecdote here but since we got into this: on my street here in Gatineau in the Outaouais about 10 or 20% of the families are black (from Haiti or various African countries). We also have Asians, Iranians, and several Lebanese families. Interestingly enough, even though we are relatively close to Ottawa there are virtually no WASP anglo “English-Canadians” of the Stephen Harper/Bryan Adams variety on my street.

    And my child’s class at the neighbourhood public francophone school last year was only barely 50% “French-Canadian”.

    Acajack

    September 24, 2008 at 8:52 am

  8. “I went to a very multi-ethnic french primary school in an even more anglophone neighborhood than yours. Maybe that was the reason why english was basically the primary (but certainly not exclusive) language of the playground, although “pur laine” anglophones made up a very small percentage of the student body.”

    That certainly was an issue at my school. English in a schoolyard in Western Montreal is as unnevitable as Spanish in an LA schoolyard, I suppose.

    There are issues with concentrating immigrants in one school (Private schools don’t help, in my opinion) but all and all, the experience left me unafraid of the immigrant ‘menace’ to Québec culture. Perhaps most kids in my school graduated unconvinced of the urgency to defend the French language and culture, but that language and culture was now part of them, whether they liked it or not. Time will tell what they will do with it.

    At the very least, like you pointed out, they can answer the phone in both French and English.

    angryfrenchguy

    September 24, 2008 at 10:34 am

  9. “To me this type of comment is just the new, politically correct way of dividing Québec, once again, between the French and the Others.”

    No. It’s a politically correct way of dividing Québec between Montreal and the Others. Montreal is as distinct from Québec as Québec is from Canada. We just aren’t as whiny about it.

    I see many of you seem to believe bilingualism to be inexistant outside of Québec, as you took my comment to mean “there are no immigrants in Québec outside of Montreal”. As some of you pointed out, there are indeed multi-ethnic pockets in the ROQ, just as there are bilingual pockets in the ROC.

    Montrealer in exile

    September 25, 2008 at 6:55 am

  10. As mentioned previously, this is no different from most places elsewhere in Canada and around the world. Diversity comes to the larger cities and their environs first, then slowly spreads into the regions over the next few generations as the newcomers’ communities and their descendants become more settled and integrated into the mainstream host society.

    Acajack

    September 25, 2008 at 8:18 am

  11. “I see many of you seem to believe bilingualism to be inexistant outside of Québec, as you took my comment to mean “there are no immigrants in Québec outside of Montreal”. As some of you pointed out, there are indeed multi-ethnic pockets in the ROQ, just as there are bilingual pockets in the ROC.”

    This comment says a lot about your vision of Canada, my friend. you equate multilinguism in Québec with multi-ethnicity and bilinguism in the ROC with franco presence.

    In other words, you think only old stock francophones speak French and that people of other origin only live next to them, humor them or accomodate them.

    You refuse to accept the idea of a multiethnic French-speaking society. You divide Québec (and Canada) between YOUR ethnic definition of the French and the Others.

    Like I said. A new PC way of expression an old racism.

    angryfrenchguy

    September 25, 2008 at 8:55 am

  12. “This comment says a lot about your vision of Canada, my friend. you equate multilinguism in Québec with multi-ethnicity and bilinguism in the ROC with franco presence.”

    I should have been more specific when I mentioned bilingualism in the ROC. I meant French-English bilingualism, of course, X-English bilingualism being very widespread. And I should point out that my vision of bilingualism includes an actual use of both languages on a regular basis, not a mere classroom knowledge. As for my “equating multilinguism with multi-ethnicity”, I find this quite hilarious, considering I’m a “pure laine” (I guess they say “de souche” now… it’s all crap anyway) who speaks four language. And I’d say my Canadian friends who speak 4+ languages are pretty evenly divided between franco- allo- and anglophones (these lucky allo- getting a head start).

    I hardly see how I could “think only old stock francophones speak French” after five years in a high school where everyone spoke French, although only about half as a first language, and four years at a university where I met francophiles from virtually every province.

    “You refuse to accept the idea of a multiethnic French-speaking society. You divide Québec (and Canada) between YOUR ethnic definition of the French and the Others.”
    Erm, I don’t quite know who you’re talking to here, but I must assume you’re talking to me, in which case I must say I strongly dislike having words put in my mouth. If you re-read my comments, you will notice nothing in there questions that:
    1) the Province of Québec is somewhat multiethnic, immigrants being mostly concentrated in Montreal (which, as Acajack pointed out, is a global phenomenon)
    2) French is spoken in Québec
    Do you think I buy into that whole “ah, la langue française est tellement plus complexe et plus belle que la langue anglaise” crap, and thus believe most people are unable to learn French as a foreign language???

    YOU keep bringing up this idea of “the French and the Others”, whereas my thing is “Montréal and les Régions”.
    On the contrary, I’m glad we’re not divided between the ethnic “French and the Others”. Hell, I’m what you call “old stock francophone” and I spend most of my time with what you call “the Others”. And it usually takes a while before someone asks me what language I speak at home and where I got my unusual hair-eye colour combination from. It’s just not an issue.
    All that being said, I’ll think about it twice before posting a comment again. For some reason, you seem desperate to find bigots, and I’m not quite sure I want to be caught in your net again.

    Montrealer in exile

    September 26, 2008 at 4:29 pm

  13. OK, MiEx, this is what I’ll do. I’ll apologize for interpreting wrongly what you said.

    Now how about you tell us why you felt it was important to “correct” my “this is what Québec looks like” phrase. Why were you compelled to point out that in your opinion Montreal is diverse and the rest of Québec is not. Why is it important for you to distinguish the two.

    What is it that you mean?

    angryfrenchguy

    September 26, 2008 at 7:23 pm

  14. I’ll gladly accept the apology. I’m not sure I was expecting one.

    Since I’m not only bilingual, but also “bicultural”, Montreal is the only “entity” I feel a true sense of belonging to. Everytime I visit my very Québécois (and mostly unilingual) family in Estrie, I always feel like there’s a whole part of me they just don’t get. The part that speaks English, has Jewish friends and gay neighbours, and can’t stand dubbed movies with Joel Legendre as Leonardo DiCaprio. As for Canada, it has a pretty solid rep here in Europe and I’m glad I get to say that’s where I’m from, but I can’t help but sometimes feel unqualified to talk about it. For example, I really don’t know how people in the ROC feel about common law unions. My impression is that they’re not as common as in Québec, but I could be wrong.
    Bottom line is, Montreal is probably the only place in the world I can spend a whole day speaking nothing but Québécois French, and the next nothing but English, and encounter minimal hostility (if you pick your neighbourhoods right). I know loving Montreal is seen by some Québécois as a type of snobbery, but I feel my sentiments towards my city are not unlike those of many sovereigntists towards Québec.

    And probably because I’ve been living in cities with an unusually high level of “city pride”, for lack of a better term.

    Montrealer in exile

    September 27, 2008 at 4:16 am

  15. And as to how all of this relates to your original post: as far as I can tell from the trailer, this documentary seems to have been entirely shot in Montreal, possibly almost entirely in Côte-des-Neiges. I meant to say that it reflects a very specific reality (a high concentration of immigrants) that most Québécois aren’t confronted with. I’m simply annoyed when people take phenomena distinctive to Montreal and try to apply them to all of Québec and/or Canada. And I’m sure quite a few people in the ROQ feel the same way. Haven’t they complained about the “Montrealisation of the media” before?

    Montrealer in exile

    September 27, 2008 at 6:31 am

  16. “I meant to say that it reflects a very specific reality (a high concentration of immigrants) that most Québécois aren’t confronted with. I’m simply annoyed when people take phenomena distinctive to Montreal and try to apply them to all of Québec and/or Canada.”

    Personally, as a 3rd generation Montrealer with some “bicultural” background as well, I’m usually offended when people tell me that my experience of Québec is not the “real” or “true” Québec.

    I’m equally offended when this is said by Francos who worship a mythical traditional Québec as when it is said by Anglos who look down on the “backward” province.

    Saint-Luc, Côte-des-Neiges, NDG is what Québec looks like to me. Period.

    angryfrenchguy

    September 27, 2008 at 10:00 am

  17. What I don’t understand is why there is a separate english and french school boards. I would like to see the two school boards merged with the following recommendations:

    1) French language courses being mandatory for graduating. You can be bilingual, tri-linugal, whatever, but you need to be fluent in french to get your diploma.

    2) Allow courses in the sciences to be taught in other languages, according to market demand.

    3) Making the system truly secular by removing this catholic or morals choice they have in quebec schools. This should be an extra-curricular activity.

    If I had children and had to choose which system to put them in, I am not sure I would know what to do. I would not want to subject them to the anti-english animosity that I know is present in the french school system, and as a non-christian i am very uncomfortable with the “morals” course that is manditory here. I have a friend from the US who’s child is currently taking that course, and it scares me how one-sided it is. The english school system would be a poor choice too for the same reason, It would not give my child a good chance at having a successful career in french in quebec.

    Could montreal have schools where everyone was mixed? Where french was manditory but other languages were respected and encouraged? I would be so proud if my kids could learn history in french, biology in english, and take mandarin as a second language. Why not?

    randy

    September 27, 2008 at 7:23 pm

  18. We’ve had much discussion about this before. I myself support a common school, in the 70/30 or 80/20 French/English ratio.

    I think a good first step would be to adopt the Common CEGEP proposed by the PQ’s JF Lysée, with a 75/25 French/English ratio. It is about time we get ONE public institution that all Quebecers share so the worried ones will understand their respective cultures will not disappear…

    The religious and moral classes you talk about are definitely a thing of the past, as of this year. They have been replaced with a religious culture class where all major spiritual traditions are studied. Brilliant if you ask me.

    angryfrenchguy

    September 27, 2008 at 7:45 pm

  19. angryfrenchguy said:
    > I think a good first step would be
    > to adopt the Common CEGEP proposed
    > by the PQ’s JF Lysée, with a 75/25
    > French/English ratio.

    Honestly, I’m not sure if this would be accepted by anglophones. It seems to me many of them would go to Ontario or other provinces to be able to take all their classes in English. Either that or English-language universities like McGill would open the pre-university classes they offer foreign students to Quebec students who want to skip cégep (do they already do that?)

    > The religious and moral classes you
    > talk about are definitely a thing
    > of the past, as of this year. They
    > have been replaced with a religious
    > culture class where all major
    > spiritual traditions are studied.
    > Brilliant if you ask me.

    Normally it would be a brillant idea (I actually took such a class in Sec. V), but it really depends on how it will be taught. (I must admit that I’ve got a friend who used to study to become a high school teacher, and what she’s told me is making me wary of Quebec’s education system.)

    randy said:
    > I would not want to subject them to
    > the anti-english animosity that I
    > know is present in the french school
    > system
    Cite? If you “know” it’s present, there must be some obvious evidence of it.

    Montrealer in exile said:
    > Do you think I buy into that whole
    > “ah, la langue française est tellement
    > plus complexe et plus belle que la
    > langue anglaise” crap, and thus believe
    > most people are unable to learn French
    > as a foreign language???
    Obviously that’s not what angryfrenchguy is saying. What he’s saying is that to many anglophones, French in Canada is the language of French-Canadians, and that’s all. They don’t even seem to understand that many Quebecers see it as normal that immigrants to Quebec would learn French: these immigrants are not French-Canadians, after all. So any attempt to encourage French in Quebec is seen by these anglophones as “racist”, since to them it favours French-Canadians. Personally I don’t care what ethnic group I belong to; all I know is I live in Quebec and our common language is French (but knowing English and other languages is also a useful skill). I also don’t care about the “beauty of the French language” or whatever. French is our language not because it’s better or worse than any other, but because we happen to speak it right now.

    Marc

    September 27, 2008 at 8:56 pm

  20. I am happy to see this morales class gone. In 2007 it no longer reflects quebec society.

    So a mixed school in my mind would have all courses offered in French, but there would be an option to take some courses in other languages if there were teachers and students available.

    If I remember correctly, the conseil scolaire francophone de la columbie britanique runs 39 schools, where most subjects are taught in french, but english is still a requirement for graduation, and I believe that some courses in the maths and sciences are offered in both languages in some schools.

    randy

    September 28, 2008 at 9:05 am

  21. Well this is obvious to me. I moved from Vancoouver to the plateau about 4 years ago and I communicate with pretty much all my neighbours in french only, few people speak english.

    Most of the people that i talk to on a regular basis are not quebecois however, they are south americans or portugese. I have a different culture, different music, a different accent, and they totally respect that and we are all good friends.

    Many of the pur lain however want nothing to do with me. They get one whiff of my accent and they switch to english and start asking offensive questions like “So why are all the english moving in OUR neighbourhood?” then walk off in disgust.

    randy

    September 28, 2008 at 9:26 am

  22. “Many of the pur lain however want nothing to do with me. They get one whiff of my accent and they switch to english and start asking offensive questions like “So why are all the english moving in OUR neighbourhood?” then walk off in disgust.”

    I don’t want to defend this type of attitute, but I know many people in the Plateau and other central neighborhoods are getting tired of Anglophones moving there and NOT making any efforts to speak any French.

    This is not your case, as you say, but you are paying the price for the inconsiderateness of others.

    angryfrenchguy

    September 28, 2008 at 9:48 am

  23. Also remember that many bilingual francophones switch to English when they hear an English accent because they think they’re being helpful. Some anglophones seem to think it’s actually an insulting comment on their French, but I don’t have the slightest idea how they got this impression.

    I’ve done this on occasion (especially with tourists), but I admit that it’s not a good idea in Quebec. If people are doing an effort to speak French, encourage them instead of trying to “help” them.

    Marc

    September 28, 2008 at 10:03 am

  24. “I don’t want to defend this type of attitute, but I know many people in the Plateau and other central neighborhoods are getting tired of Anglophones moving there and NOT making any efforts to speak any French.

    This is not your case, as you say, but you are paying the price for the inconsiderateness of others.”

    Listen up east-of-St-Laurent anglophones: don’t get tricked into playing a game you can’t win. Do the best you can in French, but do it because it streamlines your interactions with the girls in Jean Coutu, your Vidéotron installer, or even the unspeakably rude people of the STM. It’s a French-speaking city and it helps people get their jobs done faster and with less stress. We can all agree that’s a good thing, especially since I have noticed Montrealers are in need of some stress relief.

    But don’t speak French because you think it will elevate you from the unfortunate category of “those Plateau anglophones.” AngryFrenchGuy hits the nail on the head when he says “I don’t want to defend this type of attitude” and then goes right on ahead to defend it. Don’t try to befriend your neighbours (you won’t) make friends (you won’t) or feel you have earned the right to any shred of solidarity with the people you see everyday on the sidewalk or in the café (you haven’t earned any and never will).

    The thing to do is take it easy, toughen up, enjoy life, and try to avoid food poisoning.

    Facturicity

    September 28, 2008 at 1:14 pm

  25. I think there is a difference between “defend” and “explain”…

    angryfrenchguy

    September 28, 2008 at 1:23 pm

  26. “Also remember that many bilingual francophones switch to English when they hear an English accent because they think they’re being helpful. Some anglophones seem to think it’s actually an insulting comment on their French, but I don’t have the slightest idea how they got this impression.”

    The accompanying tone of voice, level of eye contact, and body language generally say more than the actual words.

    Facturicity

    September 28, 2008 at 1:33 pm

  27. I’ve commented on this issue before, but I frequently sense that bilingual francos who switch over to English once they hear my accent (or if I fluff a gender or tense) are doing so to maintain reserve. It seems like a “vouvoiement” to me.

    I have also learned that once my interlocutor makes the switch from French to English, it is not a good idea to try to jump back to French; it is like trying to “tutoyer” after being addressed as “vous.”

    I sense that the many anglos who try to use French in Québec are trying their best to “get with the program,” and I also sense that some francos still have a hard time believing that many anglos want to speak French and try to fit in.

    littlerob

    September 29, 2008 at 5:06 am

  28. Montreal is the urban, multicultural incarnation of modern Quebec, just as New York City is an urban, multicultural incarnation of the United States. New York City doesn’t have to be identical to rural Iowa for both to be part of the same country (or nation even).

    The analogy Montreal vs. (rest of Quebec) = Quebec vs. ROC is totally flawed, because the group that is the crushing majority in the rest of Quebec is nonetheless very present in Montreal, and in fact is by far the largest population group even in the city itself.

    The analogy would be accurate if Montreal were 70, 80 or 90% “English-Canadian” or anglophone. But it is not, and it’s not likely to evolve in that direction either.

    Acajack

    September 29, 2008 at 8:14 am

  29. “Montreal is the urban, multicultural incarnation of modern Quebec.”

    Which is about like saying hummus is the urban, multicultural incarnation of modern chickpeas.

    The lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt sometimes get together and have a little party of their own because it is and always will be a dish that was conceived primarily to showcase the resilience, cost effectiveness, and mild flavour of the chickpea!

    Facturicity

    September 29, 2008 at 6:12 pm

  30. ““Montreal is the urban, multicultural incarnation of modern Quebec.”
    Which is about like saying hummus is the urban, multicultural incarnation of modern chickpeas.
    The lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt sometimes get together and have a little party of their own because it is and always will be a dish that was conceived primarily to showcase the resilience, cost effectiveness, and mild flavour of the chickpea!”

    You make an interesting point here, although I think you may be indirectly proving mine in the process.

    See, the thing about hummus is that the chick peas are an essential ingredient. No chick peas, no hummus. Stuff that’s in hummus *sans* chick peas may amount to something else that could potentially be good, but it ain’t really hummus.

    Same thing with Montreal. If Montreal weren’t in (francophone) Quebec, it would be just another northern North American city.

    Or, if the francophone element in Montreal was perhaps not completely absent but was diluted to the point of a folkloric afterthought, then Montreal would just be a big Ottawa or a huge Moncton. Not that there’s anything wrong with Ottawa or Moncton. But they’re not Montreal.

    Acajack

    September 30, 2008 at 7:59 am


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