AngryFrenchGuy

Posts Tagged ‘quebec

Pure Laine Black Sheep

with 66 comments

I am Pure Laine.

I’m the prototypical Frog. I’m a Pepsi, a Pea Soup, a fucking Frenchy. I’m white and French-speaking and baptized in the Holy Catholic Church.

I’m exactly who you’re talking about when you call someone Pure Laine. The grandson of a farmer who was the grandson of a voyageur who was the grandson of a Norman sailor.

I’m Pure Laine. As pure as they come.

How pure is that? I’ll tell you how pure.

As pure as my English-speaking father and his Jewish girlfriend. As pure as English-speaking grandfather and his protestant mother.

Last year a man in Toronto asked my mother if she was Chinese. It wasn’t the first time. That’s how Pure Laine my mother is. As pure as any other Paquette out there. As pure as the anonymous Huron warrior or Cantonese railway worker who left the genes to those eyes in my bloodline. As pure as the Irishman who brought my red hair to America.

I’m as pure as the Beauce’s Besré, Maheux, Allaire and Dallaire who’s ancestors were German mercenairies. As pure as the Russians of Rawdon and the Italians of St-Léonard.

In 1764 David David was the first Jew born in Québec. In 1912 Fleurette David, my grandmother, was born in Montreal. Was she a descendent of David David? Am I? To tell you the truth, I have no idea. So how the fuck would you you know? And what exactly would that change between you and me? Do you think I’d feel less Québécois because I had a Jewish ancestor? How about you, would you think less of me?

Would you take my name of the Pure Laine registry?

My name is Georges Boulanger. Google it for fun. Georges Boulanger is also the name of a French fascist general and a Romanian gypsy violinist. So what’s in a name? What could my name possibly tell you about who I am?

I’m as pure as any Québécois who’s family tree has at least one root that goes back to those first French settlers, as pure as Gregory Charles, Aly N’Diaye, Normand Brathwaite and Donald Brashear.

That’s about as pure as it gets. Even if I accept the ridiculous premise that there is such a thing as a “Pure Québécois”, an idea that no one cares about except a few retarded traditionalists and their biggest supporters, Canada’s English-speaking media.

Even if I accept to even think about Québec from that fictional point of view, that there ever was pure seed to the Québec genome, that Québec was somehow isolated from the movement of peoples in America and Europe before that.

Even if I let you suppose that I would for one second consider that someone who’s ancestors came here a little bit later, maybe five, six, three or two generations ago, were any less Québécois than I am, that’s still about as pure as it gets.

Why would you call me Pure Laine? Who exactly are you to cast the Québécois out of the ebb and flow of peoples and cultures? On what authority do you isolate a group of people, French-speaking North Americans, as somehow “pure”, untouched by time, as an anachronistic impediment to what should have been the ‘natural’ course of history?

The idea of the Pure Laine Québécois, the ethnicity of the Québécois is an invisible leash drawn around Québec to limit it’s contact with the world outside, folklorise a people and marginalize a culture. It’s a mental reservation.

It’s a lie. I’ve got the same parents as the rest of you, I just turned out a little bit different.

Yes I am Pure Laine. A Pure Laine Black Sheep.

Written by angryfrenchguy

May 26, 2008 at 12:58 pm

To Be or Not to Be Nous? The Barbara Kay Problem.

with 9 comments

Barbara Kay

Exactly 50% of participants to the AngryFrenchPoll on Québec identity have said that they consider National Post columnist Barabara Kay to be a Québécoise. The other half don’t.

Not surprisingly, Francos and Anglos don’t see things the same way. 64% of Anglos think she is a Québécoise, while only 22% of Francophones think so.

Quebecers discovered the previously unsuspected existence of Ms. Kay in the summer of 2006 when she published a column called “The Rise of Quebecistan” in which she essentially suggested that an independent Québec would be a haven for terrorists because sovereingnist leadership took part in a peace march for Lebanon. “Think about what this would mean if Quebec ever were to become independent, detached from the leadership of politicians who know the difference between a democracy and a gang of fanatical exterminationists.”

The article also informed us that “all Jews are federalists”. Salomon Cohen, Paul Unterberg, Henry Milner, David Levine and Armand Elbaz apparently are not Jewish.

Graph Barabara Kay

The results of the poll are expected to hurt and trouble Ms. Kay who has lived in Québec most of her life and has always strived to be an active and dynamic part of her community.

In a 2005 column she recalled how she and her husband had bought land in the Laurentians north of Montreal where she planned to build a “habitant-style pre-fab”. Now this proud Québécoise even went so far as to, get this, hire some French-speaking help to build the house! The contractor in question’s English was rudimentary but that did not stop this wild and crazy gal who hired him nonetheless. “I function pretty well in French, so I saw it as an adventure.”

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 31, 2008 at 9:39 am

KRS-One on Hip Hop, Quebec and other Nations

with 9 comments

KRS-One quebec

At some point in the mid-eighties something odd happened. Half the kids around the world suddenly decided they wanted to be black. For some still mysterious reason, young people of every ethnic origin and language recognized themselves in the sounds and colors that were at that very specific time coming out of New York City. The Bronx, to be more specific. The South Bronx to be exact.

Somehow out of the concrete, poverty and crack violence that plagued that place and time an uncontrollable epidemic of art and sound sprang out. At twice the speed of Rock and Roll, massive murals of graffiti covered the walls of cities worldwide and the sounds of a culture called Hip Hop infiltrated every record collection.

Hip Hop became a worldwide culture, but a culture that could only express itself in the reality of one’s environment and personal struggle. To be Hip Hop was to be Real and to Represent.

Hip Hop legend KRS-One is now in his third decade of representing the South Bronx around the world. The one who calls himself the Teacha was in Montreal on March 9th and spoke to the AngryFrenchGuy from a hotel room in New Jersey a couple of days later.

I’m thinking of when you said « I manifest as a black man, but I’m universal. » When I was young that made a lot of sense to me. Today, how do you balance being an African American and just a human?

To tell you the truth I’m more Hip Hop than African American. I think that’s where the balance comes from, that there really is no balance.

African American, I don’t know what that is, really. I can’t put my hand on that. I know what it is politically, I know what it is spiritually, but I don’t know what it is in reality. How does it affect my life? Where’s the African American constitution? What is the collective African American goal? What is our set of ethics? Who are our heroes? I don’t see that in the African American community. I don’t even know if you can call it a community for that matter. What is our collective interest as African Americans? What do we all want? I don’t see any of that jumpin’ off. But I can answer thee questions when it comes to Hip Hop.

I find the way you define Nation interesting. Where I come from, Nation is a very charged word. Is Québec a Nation? How do you define the Hip Hop Nation?

A nation is a glorified community. A nation is any group of people who say they are a nation and can sustain their nationality.

When you speak of the Hip Hop group in world History… project your mind to 2200. We’re all gone. 2200 is looking back on a specific period of time when this movement was created and flourished. Now Hip Hop may not exist in 2200, but everything we’re doing today will. Hip Hop may not be practiced anymore, but everything we’re doing right now: the rhymes, the DVDs, Cds, the live performances, the scandals, the newsworthy stuff… All of that will be in existence in 2200.

Our offspring is gonna be looking back on our activity today for their heritage. This begins the mechanics of our civilization.

If you’re a Philosopher, this is the greatest time in human history. This is the age where new cultures are born. New civilizations come into play. This is nothing to do with nationalistic thought, or militarism leading to some sort of terrorism, far from that. This has to do with the need of the people. Worldwide people are crying out to be relieved from having to communicate through race, through ethnicity, through class, through gender, through their job, through their degree… I respect these things no doubt! But those who have this blood or this awareness of Hip Hop they can transcend their race or their class and achieve great things in this other community.

Is that how you explain the international appeal of Hip Hop? That it travels all over the world because people recognize something central in it?

The only thing I would say for the sake of scholarship is that Hip Hop met in America. Met in the Bronx. Hip Hop didn’t really start in the Bronx. Hip Hop has always been in the world at different times. It just becomes more concentrated at certain places.

Hip Hop met in the Bronx in tough time for the black community in the end of the 70’s and 80’s. How do you feel minorities are doing right now, either blacks, Latinos, Asians or new minorities?

We didn’t know that we were living badly ’till we got money. To say that was a low period in African American life, to answer your question I would say no! I don’t think the African American experience has changed from slavery to now. And I don’t mean to say that slavery is the backdrop of all African American History.

As a matter of fact, before the Louisiana purchase the Seminole tribe ruled Florida. The Seminole tribe was made up of runaway American slaves and Native Americans. Napoleon had French-African soldiers and government. Florida, Mississippi, what is now New-Orleans and Louisiana, that whole region was ruled by French blacks. African blacks. There was a lot of black government in the early days. The idea of blacks being slaves like the idea of Roots is a conspiracy to make all black people think that a small population of them represents the whole of them.

And it’s even happening today, it’s the way they do Hip Hop. You look on TV and you see a small population of us representing the whole of us. So you would think that all Hip Hop is what you see on TV, but only those who truly study know that there was a KRS, a Public Enemy, there was a RUN-DMC.

I see the same thing when I look at French History in North America. The story is so much more diverse than the one we are told which gets simplified terribly to: Europeans came, killed Indians, fought against each other and the English won…

That’s crazy. Imagine, that never happened. Not that it’s inaccurate. It never happened! Imagine a story being told to you!

Who does it benefit?

It benefits the order. It benefits social order. Here’s where I contradict myself, because when you’re building society, you kind of need these stories. You know: cowboys killed Indians. You don’t teach that native Indians and many cowboys even became family together and intermarried. There was more of that going on than the shooting and the murder.

No History is the truth. None. We are creating History. History is art. We have some bad artists, and we have some very good artists. And then we have the people and they have their own agenda. And some people take art as truth, and pattern their whole lives by it. It might work for some, but it defines the lives of so many more.

African Americans are all over the United States. If there was a concentration like there is for French-speakers in Canada. If there was a region, or a State, where 80-90% of the population was African American. Would you be in favor, for the sake of true political power, of an independent African American state in North America?

Yeah!

Why?

Because we could use the term African American more clearly. To suggest that I am African American yet I do not own Africa or America. If we had a black nation within North America that would be dope. I think that would be great! But we would still have to act humanely. We would still have to trade with whites and Hispanics and Asians and Africans. We still have to get in the world and act accordingly. And I could run America. I could run a White Nation too!

We, as French-Canadians, don’t necessarily have a color, we have a language. Is there a way for French-Canadian artists who produce in French to find their way to listeners in the US? Not necessarily in the mainstream, but somewhere.

Start loving your own artists. That’s what started Hip Hop in the beginning. We respected each other we held up each other. Look at my record South Bronx, that was a regional record. Why does the world sign that record? It’s a regional song! I did it for one little block! I was in a scrawny little battle and now that became what it was. Why? Because it was true to it’s time. It was true to it’s neighborhood. It was true to it’s people. What we need is a song, a Quebec! South Quebec! South! South Quebec! Or something!

More Interviews:

AngryFrenchguy talks to Webster and Alexis Wawanoloath

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 23, 2008 at 3:01 pm

Posted in The Interviews

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Letter from Ottawa

with 20 comments

Ottawa bilingual sign

Salut Georges,

You probably remember me: we worked together in another life. We worked weekends and I remember you enjoyed reading the National Post to get angry. I just discovered you blog thanks to the article published in the Gazette and I said to myself: I only know one Georges Boulanger and it can only be him!

So congratulations for your blog, I’ve read a few articles and I found it very interesting. I think we have to tell the Anglos in their own language what the fucking problem is. I’m not sure they’ll get it but if we write in French they’ll say “Oh it’s French” and it stops right there. Communication breakdown.

I felt especially concerned since I now work for the federal government (Oh yes! The superb city of Gatineau) and I work in English 90% of the time. I write briefing notes in English, memos in English, instructions in English, research and analysis in English, etc… My colleagues are all Anglophones, except for the secretaries, of course. Ah, government secretaries have to be Francophones (bilingual, of course) because they are the point of first contact with the public.

French training usually gives rather poor results. In theory management jobs are bilingual but it’s a hoax: once someone has passed their French exam, they can easily never speak French ever again. I do have some Francophone colleagues in other ministries but meetings, even if Francophones are the majority, are in English.

That’s the big problem with Canadian bilingualism: its purely institutional and imposed from above. The reality is that Anglophones (except those who live in Québec, and even then…) have no reason to learn French, so why would they?

Anyway, all this to tell you I found your blog interesting and that I’ll continue following it.

Again, congratulations,

T.

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 19, 2008 at 9:59 am

Québec Needs More Jews

with 34 comments

Quebec Jews

If English is good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.

-Apocryphal quote attributed to, among many, Texas governor Miriam Ferguson and South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond.

How about Moses? Did he speak English?

A recent poll by the Association for Canadian Studies revealed that 41% of Quebecers felt Jews did not “want to participate fully in society” and 35% felt that Jews had not “made an important contribution to society.” In the rest of Canada, 72% felt Jews wanted to participate in society and only 10% did not feel they made an important contribution to society.

As usual, these results were explained as being either symptomatic of Québec’s cultural insecurity or further proof of the rampant anti-semitism simmering just beneath the surface of Québec society. In any case, Jack Jedwab, the executive director of the ACS, was quoted in the Canadian Jewish News saying that these results “do not support the idea that Quebec has had successful intercultural programming.”

But what if these results simply reflected a fact? What if many Québec Jews did not want to participate in Québec society and what if their contribution to this society was, if not minor, less important than their contribution to other cultures?

The question that the ACS did not ask is: Do you wish Jews took a more active role in Québec society and culture?

Considering the considerable influence of people of Jewish decent in academia, arts, culture, literature and business, there are worse things that could happen to Québec than having a few Jews who have some allegiance to that small pocket of French-speakers shoveling away 400 cm of snow at the top-right of the North American map.

Québec, whether you like it or not, is a society that recognizes itself through the French language. Most of Québec’s Jews speak another language. This means that Jewish people are not as visible in Quebec‘s editorial pages, movies and television as their numbers on the streets of Montréal would suggest.

Hence, the simplistic conclusion that Jews do not want to participate in Québec society. They are here + they don’t participate = they don’t want to participate.

Of course you can’t generalize! Phyllis Lambert and Julius Gray’s contribution to Québec goes way beyond the “Anglo” or the “Jewish” community. David Levine gained moderate notoriety as the Parti québécois’ most famous Jew. But the fact is that from Leonard Cohen to Mordecai Richler, the Steinbergs to the Bromfmans, the majority of Québec’s Jews have defined themselves as Anglophone Jews.

It’s hard to make an important contribution to a society that defines itself almost exclusively by the use of the French language… in English.

Around 20% of Québec’s Jews are Sephardic Francophones but unlike the traditional community they are mostly from a recent wave of immigration and they have yet to establish their place in either Québec or Montreal’s Jewish institutions.

In the rest of Canada all Jews speak the same language as the rest of Canadians. In Québec, Jews and the French-speaking majority often don’t even go to the same schools!

This situation has it’s roots in the refusal of the Catholic Church to admit Jewish kids to Catholic schools in the past.

The fact is that the doors of Québec’s French-language public schools have been fully open to all confessions since 1977 and it’s Montreal’s Jewish leaders that have been at the front lines of the battle to preserve a separate English language public school network.

In 2005 they even briefly convinced the Liberal government to fund a parallel network of straight-out Jewish public schools until public outcry forced them to back down.

This segregation feeds the vicious of cycle of ignorance and distrust and that benefits no one. The people of Québec – old stock and new immigrants alike – are denied the opportunity to know and build relationships with Jewish-Quebecers for reasons that have nothing to do with religion, only with language.

Worse, French-Quebecers are estranged from a Diaspora that is very Francophone and Francophile, and from that other small country with the blue and white flag that knows a thing or two about independence, being a minority culture and protecting an endangered language.

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 17, 2008 at 10:27 pm

Bill 101, hum… 101… The School Law

with 44 comments

montreal high school

Québec’s language laws limit access to English schools for most citizens of the province. That is true.

Yet, if any other Canadian provinces or American state wanted to offer it’s linguistic minorities access to the kind of education network Québec finances for it’s Anglophone minority, every single one of them would have to increase dramatically the number of minority schools it finances.

For example, if American states were expected to give their Spanish-speaking minority the same education rights that Québec gives to it’s English-speaking minority, then New Mexico, California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, Utah, Rhode Island, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Kansas – all states that have more Spanish-speakers than Québec has English-speakers – would have to create a second publicly funded Spanish-language schools system.

Although all Canadian provinces have some minority education rights and schools, no other provincial minority has the vast network of schools, colleges and universities that English-speakers in Montreal and Quebec have access to. There are in Québec about 367 English public schools, 3 English public colleges called CEGEPs and 3 English universities.

In fact, if you use that standard definition of a major university as one that has both a law school and a medical school – New Brunswick’s Université de Moncton, the only autonomous French-language university outside Québec, does not have the latter – then Québec is the only state or province to fund a complete education system for it’s linguistic minority.

That’s if you accept the premise that English-speaking North Americans can be considered a minority at all…

In the 1970’s Francophones in Montreal became increasingly alarmed to see the vast majority of new immigrants to Québec sending their children to English Schools. That situation, combined with the demographic decline of Francophones in Canada and the availability of an extensive and totally free network of English schools in Québec meant that within one generation French-speakers could become a minority in Montreal.

Québec’s Francophones, representing over 80% of the population of Québec but barely 5% of North Americans were put in the position were they had to assist their neighbors in anglicizing immigrants.

Not only were Francophones being assimilated, but they were paying for it.

In 1977 the Québec government adopted the French Language Charter, known as bill 101, which made French the mandatory language of primary and secondary education. From that moment on, all residents of Québec – except the Anglophone minority – had to send their children in French schools from 1st grade through the end of High School.

Many people in Québec’s Anglophone community and in the rest of Canada were angered by this apparent limit to their freedom to choose their children’s language of instruction. Few noted that Québec was the only place on the continent where an actual school network made that choice possible at all.

In any case, the right of English-speaking Quebecers to a “separate but equal” public English-language school network was constitutionally protected. Parents who have been to English schools anywhere in Canada have the privilege to send their children to either school network in Québec.

It is only Francophones and new immigrants – those who make the informed decision of living in the French-speaking part of Canada – who are limited to French Schools.

In 1972, before the adoption of the Charter, only 10% of immigrants to Québec sent their children to French schools. Since the adoption of bill 101 the situation has reversed. Parents who send their kids to private schools can still send them to English schools as long as the school does not receive government funding.

Freedom of choice remains total when it come to higher education and students can study in English at college-level CEGEPs or in one of Québec’s three English-language universities.

In the decades since the law was adopted, some wealthy families figured out they could send their eldest child to an unsubsidized school – one that usually cost over 10 000$ a year – and then switch all of their children to the English public system the next year.

The National Assembly of Québec unanimously adopted law 104 to put an end to the loophole. The Québec court of appeals struck down the law in 2007 and the matter is now headed for the Supreme Court.

Click here for information of the Charter of the French Language’s sign law.

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 12, 2008 at 11:06 am

Black in Quebec City: Webster is Writing His Story

with 17 comments

webster

The first record of a black man in Québec City was Mathieu Da Costa who traveled with the city’s founder Samuel de Champlain as early as 1604 or 1607.

For a city that sometimes seems to be all about history, Québec City sometimes has a short memory.  Just ask Aly N’Diaye a.k.a. Webster, who 400 years after Da Costa often feels like a stranger at home just because he’s black.

“This is where I’m from. My world is here. All the sons of immigrants are gone, to Montreal, Toronto or the States. We are first generation to say: fuck that! You’re not chasing us out! If we go it’s always the same pattern starting all over again.”

Webster is the son of a white mother and an Senegalese father. He studied History at Québec’s Laval university and with his cool lazy flow he is now passing down his knowledge to the kids of Québec City’s surprisingly vibrant hip hop scene. Everything in Québec City, it seems, is about History.

In his song Québec History X from his first solo album Sagesse Immobile (Still Wisdom) Webster raps about Da Costa, who spoke a variety of European and native languages and was employed as Champlain’s interpreter, and other forgotten blacks from Québec’s past, like the 10 000 slaves of New France. “There were blacks in New France. Slaves, but also free men. If that history was better known blacks in Québec would feel a whole lot more integrated.”.

The truth is Québec City has had many different faces over the years, from an Iroquoian village called Stadacona, the capital of New-France, an often very English city after the British conquest of 1763, a diverse and bustling port town and, after business and ship traffic moved upstream to Montreal, the sleepy and homogeneous French-speaking provincial capital of today.

Or should we say yesterday… Once again the city is being transformed by the arrival of new immigrants from Haïti, the Middle East and Africa.

Webster’s native Limoilou district is where Jacques Cartier spent the winter in 1535-36 and his day job is at the Parc National Cartier-Brébeuf commemorating the explorer’s encounter with local native populations. Today it’s a diverse neighborhood that he and his friends call L.Land. “In a bigger City like Montreal people tend to regroup culturally. In Québec City there it’s more mixed. In Limoilou, people of all races live together.”

Unlike in Montreal, language is actually not much of an issue in La Capitale Nationale. “When you arrive somewhere, you have to learn the language. In Québec City, to function, you need to learn French. That’s it.” Webster himself used to rap in English – his name comes from the English dictionary he used to carry around – but he switched to French in 1995. “The identity of Québec Hip Hop was starting to take shape at that time and I wanted to be part of it.”

In 2008 Québec City is celebrating the 400th anniversary of it’s foundation by Champlain. The event commemorates, depending on who you ask, the birth of Canada as a country, or Québec as a nation.

A true historian, Webster doesn’t want to take sides, on that issue or the eternal debate on Québec’s independence from Canada.

“I think the issue of independence is becoming obsolete. If it had to be done, it should’ve been done in the 1980’s. A country that wants it’s independence gets up and takes it. That’s all. If it happens, though, I will be happy from the historical point-of-vue. To see that live, from the inside. To live history. I’d love to see that.”

More interviews:

AngryFrenchguy talks to KRS-One and Alexis Wawanoloath

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 9, 2008 at 6:21 pm