Welcome to 2017, the 150th year of Canadian Confederation and the 375th anniversary of Montreal.

According to historian Gustave Lanctôt, the founding of Ville Marie by Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance was unique in history, “the birth of a town dedicated to the Virgin Mary and whose only goal was the glory of God and the conversion of the natives.” For centuries Montreal was defined by religion (Mark Twain: “This is the first time I was ever in a city where you couldn’t throw a brick without breaking a church window), which also divided its citizens into disconnected solitudes, reinforced by language barriers.

Modern Quebec has become peaceful, prosperous and tolerant, and most of its citizens have adopted French as the shared public language. We have made considerable efforts to create an inclusive society but the gap between rhetoric and reality was jarringly demonstrated in the first promotional video for Montreal’s 375th celebrations. To their credit, Gilbert Rozon and his Montreal 375 team immediately recognized that the video was one-dimensional and replaced it with a more diverse representation.

It is an unfortunate fact that most of us in Quebec still live in parallel universes, sharing the public space as virtual strangers. This year of celebrations will bring new opportunities to break down old walls and build new bridges. My hope for 2017 is that we seize those opportunities. ELAN has several events planned for 2017 to move beyond inclusive rhetoric toward a lived reality.

 

Guy Rodgers

Executive Director

460 Sainte-Catherine West
Suites 706 & 708, 917 (Quebec Relations)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3B 1A7
Phone: (514)-935-3312
admin@quebec-elan.org

Click here to view our Accessibility Audit.

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.