What characteristics define that nebulous character – the English-speaking Quebecer? Is it determined by history – the number of years/generations that your clan has lived in this territory? Is it about language? Are your Anglo-Québécois credentials strengthened by adding French-language skills, or diminished? Who decides that you belong in Québec? Do you have to wait to be accepted, or can you make your own decision and stake your claim anytime you’re ready?
ELAN’s Waves of Change project takes a deep dive into the thorny question of identity and belonging in Quebec. We have interviewed more than 50 people, grouped by waves of immigration. The oldest wave goes back to the days of the Napoleonic Wars. Their families arrived when Montreal was 50% English-speaking and they have lived through FLQ bombings, Bill 101, two referendums, an exodus of 300,000 Quebecers and a drastically renegotiated social contract. The most recent wave, arrived since 2010, is still trying to make sense of Quebec’s history and the unwritten codes that define who belongs and who remains the ‘other’. Each of these waves of immigration tells a similar story about arriving in a new land and adapting to local conditions, but the socio-political landscape has constantly changed, along with the unwritten codes.
The final Waves of Change discussion groups were filmed in March and the first two videos have been edited. We are happy to share them with you. If your family arrived in Quebec before 1970, these stories will echo your personal experiences. If you and your family arrived after 1970, these glimpses of lived history will shed light on this crazy, complicated place that we call home.
We will release the final four videos next month.