It has been a long time since a law has divided Quebec as deeply as Bill 21.  One of the most reliable indicators to distinguish those who support the law from those who don’t is a sense of personal vulnerability. Given the direct correlation between vulnerability and minority status within Quebec society, it is not surprising that many ELAN members feel uncomfortable with Bill 21, and the way it was adopted.

When I was a child, my parents used a very simple method to teach fairness. One child would cut desert into equal portions.  Then the other children would choose first, the cutter last. It was an object lesson in functional democracy.

Issues can be democratically decided by a majority vote when they affect all citizens equally. Issues that affect citizens unequally require a more even-handed, far-sighted approach. If one minority’s freedom can be restricted today, tomorrow a different minority will suffer.  Someday, on some issue, we will all be in a minority situation, and when that day comes it is painfully clear why the people cutting the cake should not have a monopoly on choosing who gets the biggest pieces.

Mercifully, we live in a society where even contentious issues can be debated respectfully because we all, in a very real way, can identify with being part of a vulnerable minority. Wishing you all a splendid summer.

Guy Rodgers

Executive Director

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

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.