Saturday, 28 February 2015

Quebec - The Final Word

The time has come to say au revoir to Quebec and it's been an amazing learning journey - as well as physically travelling to the place I've been blogging about, I've also had fun on my journey through Quebecois music, literature and cinema. I've seen Le Vent du Nord live in concert in Bury (near Manchester) and the Institut Francais in London is showing a retrospective of Xavier Dolan's movies - although I've now seen all of his movies, I'll looking forward to finishing my Quebecois experience with a few trips to the cinema in February and March.

I learned quite a bit about Canada, as well as Quebec and I learned about memory and Quebec's motto, Je me souviens. I learned about the other Titanic, The Empress of Ireland and about religious beliefs in Canada.  I learned how to make the traditional Quebecois dish, La Poutine and I learned about the significance of winter in Quebec and how it's become so unpopular, especially in a busy city like Montreal.  Finally, I learned about Quebec in other words, like joual, bougeotte, pure laine and tabernac.

The Canadian flag turned 50 this month
As usual, there were many areas of research I didn't have time to go into, so if you're interested in learning even more about Quebec, I would recommend the following topics:

The North American number plan for dialling codes
The Huron people and the origin of the country name, Canada
British-French relations
The French in North America
Hydroelectric power
Pepsi v Coke and the 'rock and roller cola wars'
US invasions of Canada
The snowy owl and the white lily, Quebec's symbols
Ann Coreo and Lily St Cyr, the exotic dancers of Montreal
The Jews of Montreal
Marc Lepine and the Montreal massacre
Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67 in Montreal
Mattieu de Costa, the freed African slave who was fluent in Mi'kmaq
The architecture of Moshe Safdie
Failed attempts at gaining independence from Canada
Quebecois soap operas
The Americanisation of Quebec
French-Canadian media and newspapers
The Desjardins group of artists
The Mohawks of Brooklyn
The Cirque du Soleil
The 1885 smallpox epidemic, which resulted in 3,000 deaths

Final word on the Mohawk nation

Flag of the Iroquois confederacy
I only managed to scratch the surface in terms of my learning about First Nations people who live in Quebec and I'd like to return to the First Nations some day and do more research on native American culture.  Around 1% of Quebec's population is native American and I'm quite interested in the First Nations people, who are distinct from the Inuits or Metis peoples.  First Nations in Quebec include people from the Algonquian and Iroquoian groups.

Contact with Europeans has rarely worked out in favour of the First Nation peoples and there is a still a lot of tension between First Nation communities and neighbouring 'white' communities.  I watched a really interesting documentary on YouTube called Acts of Defiance which documents events around the Oka Crisis, which began in July 1990, and the impact that this conflict had on the Mohawk people of Kahnawake.

Watching the documentary gives you a real understanding of the cultural gap that exists between First Nations people in Quebec and the dominant French/European culture.  Mohawk people belong to the Iroquois league or Haudenosaunee, which stretches from the St Lawrence River in Quebec, to southern Ontario and northern New York state.  Haudenosaunee has issued its own passports since the 1920's and attempted to send a delegation to the League of Nations, post World War 1.

As well as Mohawk reservations, Quebec has also granted a certain amount of sovereignty to the Cree people in Eeyou Istchee/Baie James and these communities are represented by the Grand Council of the Crees, which has embassies in Montreal and Quebec City.

Although I've called this my final word on the Mohawk nation, what I really mean is that my final word is that I would like to do some more research on the Mohawk nation and the other First Nations of Canada.  

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