"In Quebec, everything is in French!"
Nouvelle Alliance, a French language and separatist activist group, taped over a number of "STOP" signs this past weekend across the Town of Mount Royal. The group, which describes itself as an "independence and nationalist movement of young Quebecers," replaced the signs with "ARRÊT" stickers.
"On the night of August 20-21, Nouvelle Alliance activists went to remind the Town of Mount Royal that it is not a linguistic enclave cut off from the rest of Quebec. The signage was frenchified by us," Nouvelle Alliance wrote in French on its Facebook page.
Town of Mount Royal sign partly covered by Nouvelle Alliance's flag.Nouvelle Alliance | Facebook
Nouvelle Alliance had posted a series of photos of group members taping "ARRÊT" across the signs, all in the name of preserving the French language in Quebec.
"It is important to understand that a stop sign, well beyond its utilitarian and practical aspect, is a tangible and living proof of the language used by a community, a political testimony, the visual signature of an adherence to the majority, or of its rejection," the activist group stated in the same post.
A Nouvelle Alliance membre covering a "STOP" sign with an "ARRÊT" sticker.Nouvelle Alliance | Facebook
The Quebec Office of the French Language (OQLF) has allowed the use of the term "STOP" to be displayed on signage. In fact, both "STOP" and "ARRÊT" are permitted. However, the two terms cannot be displayed together in a bilingual sign in the province, the OQLF states.
Despite the OQLF's ruling regarding the use of "STOP" on signage, Nouvelle Alliance holds a different belief.
"If the terms "STOP" and "ARRÊT" are equal and equivalent to each other, why not look back on the former, as the vast majority of Quebec's municipalities do? Why is the use of "STOP" so systematic in English-speaking communities? We repeat: it is necessary to look beyond the simple function of the object and the word: it is its social dimension that is at stake here, as well as what it reveals," Nouvelle Alliance wrote.
A "STOP" sign covered with an "ARRÊT" sticker.Nouvelle Alliance | Facebook
The group, which follows what it calls a "maximalist view of politics," claimed that "the number of French speakers is in free fall all over Quebec, especially in Montreal and Laval," despite statistics showing a very different story, as this is simply not the case.
The number of francophones is, in fact, increasing in raw numbers. However, the share of the population with French as a first language has decreased (from 77.1% in 2016 to 74.8% in 2021). On top of that, according to a report by Statistics Canada on language diversity in the country, "the number of Canadians who spoke predominantly French at home rose in Quebec, British Columbia and Yukon."
"The official language of Quebec, of which Ville Mont-Royal is a part, is French," the Facebook post concluded. "In Quebec, everything is in French!"
According to the Montreal Gazette, the Town of Mount Royal did not file a police report regarding the vandalism.