Photo cred - Songquan
To shed some light on a controversial topic, musician Jonathan Emile has created a very compelling piece all about Quebec independence, and the inherent issues and tensions of the separation debate.
See what Emile has to say below.
1. When we criticize Québecois politicians… we are not bashing Québec.
Québec is our home. We love our home. Imagine you hire a property manager to take care of your house. All of the a sudden this property manager is stealing money, letting the leak in the roof turn into water damage in the walls, scaring away your guests and renovating haphazardly. Wouldn’t you get frustrated? Well yeah, that’s how we feel about corruption and extreme language laws and unnecessary social policy. We are not trying to put down any culture or group… we are not bashing our home… we’re just saying: “please, do what we pay you to do, fix the damn roof and do proper renovations”. Constructive criticism is intended to bring focus to problems that effect us all, it’s not bashing Québec even through it may hurt your feelings somehow.
2. We are proud to be civic Québecois…and proud to be Canadian citizens.
I know this may be a hard one to understand. But look at it this way… imagine a muslim female doctor. Don’t get scared… dig this: The woman CAN be a feminist or proud to be a woman, she CAN be proud to be a muslim and proud to be a medical doctor all at the same time. She CAN be all of those three things at the same time. C’est fou! Non!? Human beings can embrace multiple identities and still co-exist. Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two common meanings. A sense of one’s personal status or accomplishments, or toward a whole group of people for a sense of belonging. These associations can compliment each other and do not cause our brains/souls to implode from a metaphysical paradox.
3. We dislike economic uncertainty way more than we dislike federalism.
This one is tough to understand. But some of us who oppose separation also oppose federalism. Truth is, we are just really worried about our jobs, homes, standard of living and ethnic tension. We’re not willing to make a drastic change and embark on a nation building project — because nothing is guaranteed. Though the desire to have an independent country makes ideological sense, is profound, is serious and sincere — no separatist politician, academic or economist can predict what exactly will happen if we seperate. The economy is already unpredictable, Québec is clearly not economically invincible, further agitation is not only unnecessary it generates more unpredictability than the current system. Some people aren’t willing to risk their jobs, families or communities for what they see as an unclear socio-political experiment.
4. We don’t think Canada is a Utopia.
Believe it or not, we know the rest of Canada has problems. But quite frankly, Québec nationalism has not offered better economic, social or political solutions than what we already have. If you’re going to sell me a potato peeler… tell me with 100% certainty that the new potato peeler is going to be better than my current potato peeler. If society isn’t guaranteed to get better after separation, why risk it at all with so much at stake? The separatists want to gamble everything to achieve their dream. Canada is no dream — but it is one of best functioning multi-cultural, multi-linguistic democracies on the planet — true story.
5. Some people speak English and they don’t mean to be rude… just don’t be so damn hateful about it. The province is still moving forward and becoming more French.
More and more anglophones are fluently bilingual — that equals more french speaking people. This took decades, but we now have a generation of anglophones born in the 80’s and 90’s that speak French and English fluently and understand the value of francophone-québec culture. But still, there are anglophones who entered recently or grew up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s who haven’t taken advantage of the benefits of Canadian bilingualism yet. Please don’t freak out. Anglos are getting there, soon only the tourists won’t be able to speak French. There is an uptick in english speakers, however there is a greater uptick in bilingualism — more French speakers, hooray…!
6. We don’t hate Francophones.
Some of us may hate seperatists — but we don’t hate you because of French. What we hate is: default animosity and being used as cannon fodder for political campaigns to gain votes. Québec is remarkable because of it’s French heritage and our multicultural mosaic — if we didn’t like this, we would have already left.
7. “Vive le Québec Libre!”
All people of Québec should be free to determine their destiny democratically. With this said, it would be awesome if we could stop making major issues out of our minor differences. La Charte des Valeurs, is the most extreme tactic used to solidify a political base that we have ever seen. If Québec is to be free… it must be for all Québecois. Even ones who chose to maintain elective cultural traditions. There is no pandemic of turban wearing men or veiled women changing the inner workings of Office de la Langue Francaise or overstaffing the SAQ. Clearly, there is no imminent cultural horde invading Quebec. This is only occurring in the culture shocked minds of people who have never tried a shawarma. Even if you agree that government workers should not wear religious symbols; it is obvious that this charter is simply creating more problems than solutions. So far it looks like the Federal Charter guarantees freedom for Quebecois more than the joke the PQ has proposed. We don’t believe that Francophone Quebecois are still systematically oppressed in Canada even though we recognize ripples of past oppression and are working to make things better.
8. We believe in self-determination of any group… we just oppose being excluded from that determination as non pure-lâine Québecois.
Any people or people’s have a natural right to self-determination. Descendants of French colonialists are a people with an ethnicity, a clear identity and culture. They are the original founding Canadiens & the contemporary ethnic Québecois (Canadien as opposed to Canadian). If the goal is to make an ethnic nationalist state, then no one, not even René Lévesque would promote that. Ethnic nationalism is soooo 1900s. Ethnic nationalism in contemporary Americas is only really conceivable for indigenous peoples — which 95% of us are not. Ethnic nationalists need to come to terms with history and embrace the fact that… they are not FROM here… they conquered it and were later signed over by France. Just sayin’.
9. Québec is our home. We’ll go back to ‘OUR’ country if you go back to France.
Some separatists feel that Québec is exclusively reserved for Francophones or ethnic Québecois. Should the Inuit and the Mohawks be sent away as well? What about the anglophones who have heritage and lived in Québec longer than some francophones? Separatists often say, why not go live in an English part of Canada? Our answer is simple… because our home is Québec, just like you.
10. We are NOT English… we are anglophones.
Really? Do I look like the damn Queen of England? In fact, I have no love the monarchy — they have never done anything great for me or my people. Real talk. There are anglophone-québecois, there are francophone-quebecois, there are allophone-québecois and there are multilingual-quebecois. I am a bilngual-québecois — one parent anglophone one parent francophone — get it straight.
11. We are trying to learn French. Seriously.
Some people don’t have a gift for languages. Some people love Québec but are so focused on raising their families, working their jobs, and not losing their minds in this fast-paced disconnected modern world we live in. Most of us are focused on getting by. It is actually amazing that so many people can get by and learn a completely different language at the same time. There are more bilingual people now than ever in this province. I do think every anglophone should know how to speak & read french. But honestly, the people who can’t read and write French is on the rapid decline. So chill.
12. We don’t want to destroy your culture by making it more English.
Most of the current protections for the French language are essential. The arts and cultural spending is necessary. But please: treating anglophones and minorities as second class citizens does nothing to protect the French language. It simply drains the desire for bilingualism among anglos, generates social tensions and creates alienation. If that’s the goal, great. Any person who advocates the obliteration of French culture is insane. Francophone contributions to Québec and Canada are part of the reasons that make this country unique. If we didn’t want that, we would have left long ago. We love our blended culture, we love our home, why would we want to destroy what makes it unique? No one orders a poutine and says, “you know what?… I hate cheese and gravy. Give me the poutine without all of that.” That’s not a poutine… it’s fries.
13. Montréal has always been an international city. Get over it.
It occurs to me that some people come to Montréal from lilly white regions of Québec where the most “different” person is Italian or Irish. It must be the most insane experience to venture to the biggest most influential place in the province and see women in veils, Haitian elected officials, Sihks in soccer tournaments and people in China-Town who speak 3 languages with a Chinese accent. To them, Ville St. Laurent must feel like Afghanistan, because they have never been a minority in their lives. Their perception of Québec is so shaken that they start to freak out… big time. This is a genuine threat to their perception and understanding of what Québec is. It’s like they time travel to the future and can’t handle the changes. Imagine if a senator form North Carolina in 1950 travelled to the present and saw Kim Kardashian & Kanye West on the cover of Vogue Magazine?! Mind = blown.
Montréal was marrying inter-racial inter-lingusitic couples as early as the 1949. My grandparents (an ethnic québecois woman & an afro-american man) got married at Union United Church — they couldn’t get married anywhere else in the U.S. or Canada.
Montréal has been it’s own City State since it’s inception. Dynamic, multi-cultural… a world player. What makes people afraid is that the population of the greater Montréal Area (including all the places that would not exist without Montréal like Rive Sud, Laval, St. Jerome & friends…) is nearing half the population of the entire province of Québec. Elections are getting closer, and there are few PQ strongholds in these palaces. Guess what? Immigrants tend to like Canada. Especially since the PQ offers up stuff like the La Charte. Right now if we voted “representation-by-population”; Montreal would change the complete political and social landscape of Québec. Currently, places with few inhabitants, are being over represented in the QC legislature. The solution, is to have a charter protecting the French language and culture so a slow death does not occur for Québecois culture. The PQ have shown us the exact way “how NOT to implement a charter to protect French’. if you really wan’t to preserve the gene pool of ethnic Québecois… start having more damn kids.
Montréal will always be an international city. Amazing cities usually are. Think Tokyo… Japanese… but still highly international. Montréal is totally Québecois, but international and multi-cultural. Inquiète toi pas… there is no immigrant-anglo horde invading Percé.
Do you agree with Jonathon Emile's arguments?
Jonathan Emile is a Jamaican-Canadian poet, singer, composer and cancer survivor. He garnered attention with the release of his debut EP “The Lover/Fighter Document,” which was nominated(LL) for a Grammy in 2011. In 2012, Emile collaborated with international artists Kendrick Lamar, KRS-1, Buckshot, and Murs for his anticipated debut LP. In 2013, he delivered a critically acclaimed performance in the Broadway musical production of the “Ain’t Misbehavin” in Montréal and toured Canada, England & Germany with non-profit Overture With The Arts. He is currently a member of grammy nominated Jazz/Soul outfit “The Morph-tet” and notable local musical improvisers “Kalmunity Vibe Collective”. Emile's album will be released worldwide on September 09, 2014 / www.jonathanemile.com / @jonathanemile / faceboook.com/jonathanemile
Photo Cred - Alesya Kornetskaya