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Preserving The Quebecois Culture Essay

1913 words - 8 pages

“Je me souviens”, which when translated to English means, “I remember,” is the provincial motto of Quebec (Eller 1999, 27). The culture of any society is comprised of many factors including the struggles and hardships previous generations prevailed (Valentine 2001). As pointed out by Jack David Eller, author of From Culture to Ethnicity to Conflict, what Quebec remembers is “a history of injustices and ‘humiliations’ that have been likened to slavery or colonialism and which have led one activist to describe the Quebecois as the ‘white niggers of America’” (1999, 27). For this reason, the francophones of Quebec, self-identified as Quebecois, began to feel the need to protect and preserve their culture (Eller 1999, 312). Consequently, over the years, they have assembled to defend and in some cases even invent their own distinctive culture to separate themselves from the rest of Canada which leads Eller to state that “the ethnically conscious of Quebec hold up their history and their culture (or, better yet, the history of slights and assaults, yet survival, of their culture) as the banner of their identity and the source of their claims for and on a state” (Eller 1999, 312, 27).
Presently, the French language is the most often referred to component of the Quebecois culture that is used to distinguish them from the Anglophone majority of Canada. However, that same component acts as a double-edged sword (Eller 1999, 315). Eller argues that while speaking French makes the Canadian francophones different from other Canadians, it also makes them synonymous to Frenchmen and other international francophones. This leads to the question posed by Eller, “Are the French Canadians, then, part of larger “French” nation, or are they a nation unto themselves? And are all francophone Canadians the nation or only those in Quebec?” (1999, 315). A further significant aspect of the Quebecois culture is Catholicism, but once again, that fails to differentiate them from the international Catholic community and is also a less decisive singularity than language when trying to establish a distinct culture (Eller 1999, 315). While these differences might not be enough at first, Andrew Greeley states, “that if there are no differences supposedly rooted in common origin by which people can distinguish themselves from others, they will create such difference” (Eller 1999, 15). Consequently, the mere memory of once having had a distinct culture (French roots) was sufficient enough for the Quebecois to create and maintain a culture, and thus gain a sense of nationhood (Eller 1999, 25). The national culture of Quebec was cultivated by the conquest, la survivance, and urbanization.
Between 1754 and 1763, England and France were engaged in a great military struggle, known as the French and Indian War, because of colonial territory. In 1759, the fall of Quebec City marked the triumph of the English over the French. The war was formally ended through the Treaty of Paris in 1763,...

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