Guy Rodgers @ the 2016 AGM

Arts Alive! Québec 2016 Wrap Up & A Short History of Official Language Advocacy

ELAN’s series of Arts Alive! Québec pop-up mini-festivals concluded in Pointe Claire on September 24. Programming for Arts Alive! weekends ranged from hands-on workshops and kids’ activities to showcases and mainstage performances, and each location contributed its own distinct personality. Hudson and Knowlton involved many community arts organizations in multiple parks and venues around their picturesque towns. Huntingdon featured Grove Hall on the dappled banks of the Chateauguay River, and the Morrin Centre in Quebec City offered its venerable Old City courtyard. In Wakefield, Arts Alive partnered with the Ta Da! Festival at the Community Centre and its adjacent green spaces. John Rennie High School in Pointe Claire provided a fully-equipped stage and a welcoming foyer.

The guiding intent behind Arts Alive! Québec is to connect artists and communities by increasing the visibility of artistic activity. This summer more than 150 artists and artisans were on the bill. ELAN’s photo gallery offers an excellent overview of Arts Alive activities in all six participating communities.

Much of the work that ELAN does is less visible and the benefits are far less direct. Broadcasting is one of ELAN’s largest advocacy initiatives and effecting change can be painstakingly slow. When ELAN was created in 2004, no English-language TV series featuring Montreal had been produced since the early 1990s. As recently as 2010, Brendan Kelly in the Gazette lamented that Montreal was the forgotten city of English-Canadian television production. In 2016, no fewer than eight different English-language TV dramas are in production, as well as a second year of English-language arts and lifestyle programming on Videotron’s MAtv community channel. A short history of this dramatic transformation can be found here. It is a powerful testimonial to the power of persistent, collective action.

Guy Rodgers
Executive Director

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ELAN is an official minority language organization within a country that recognizes two languages as official. ELAN is located in Tiohtiak:ke, the original name for Montreal in Kanien’kéha, the language of the Mohawk—also known as Mooniyang, which is the Anishinaabeg name given to the city by the Algonquin. While we are based in this city, our projects have also taken place in many regions across Quebec.

We acknowledge the colonial origin of English and French in Canada, and recognize that both languages benefit from official status throughout the land. The province that we know as Quebec is an amalgamation of the traditional territories of the Innu and Inuit nations, Algonquian nations, as well as the Mohawk nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Kanien’kéha and Anishinaabeg are but two of the original languages of this province; Atikamekw, Cree, Inuktitut, and Innu-aimun are also among the many Indigenous languages spoken across Quebec as majority languages, all well before French and English.

ELAN acknowledges the important work being done by First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to revive the traditional languages of these territories, and their advocacy for the official status of Indigenous languages.