24
   

Canada: the English & the French ...

 
 
msolga
 
Reply Thu 10 Dec, 2009 11:02 pm
I starting thinking about French Canadians after nominating one of my favourite films (The Barbarian Invasions - a French-Canadian film) in my list in the "best films of the decade" thread.

Anyway, one think led to another think ... and it struck me: this is a very unusual situation in any "western" country ... two very distinct cultural groups coexisting under the same national "umbrella", so to speak. I couldn't think of another equivalent example.

Then I realized that I am almost totally ignorant a bout this aspect of life in Canada - a country that I have a "fellow feeling" & affection for .... that I didn't actually realize how the English/French thing actually works.

So, Canadian A2kers, could you enlighten me? I am curious about all sorts of aspects of this dual identity thing:

Do the French speak French most of the time & the English Speak English?

Are there conflicts between the two cultural identities?

Are there political differences?

What are the good things Canadians experience (which most of us have never experienced & would know nothing about) from living in a dual culture situation?

That's a start. You see how little I know? (And I suspect I'm not alone)

I'd really appreciate your help in becoming more informed.
You talk. I'll listen. Unless there's a specific question to be answered, OK?



 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 03:17 am
@msolga,
Hello, hello!

Calling Canadian A2Kers!

Francis
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 03:28 am
Hey, msolga! Let them sleep a little bit..
Izzie
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 03:29 am
@msolga,
I think they're still sleeping MzOlga - 'tis kinda early over there Very Happy

I'll be interested in this too. When I visited (backpacked) Quebec - everyone spoke French, but, dare I say it, it was a different French to how I was taught French. Had the best Halloween party ever there Razz Didn't understand a word but a fab time!
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 03:34 am
@Izzie,
Hi there, Iz!

I figured they might be sleeping, but I was trying to wake them up!

But it didn't work. Smile

Quote:
When I visited (backpacked) Quebec - everyone spoke French


That's what interests me. One nation. Two (I'm assuming) entirely different languages & cultures. How exactly does this work?

msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 03:35 am
@Francis,
Francis!

Have you ever been to Canada?
Francis
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 03:43 am
@msolga,
Even though I worked a lot with French/English Canadians, I actually never been in Canada (weird, he?)

However, multicultural/pluri language countries are not at all unknown in the world.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 03:52 am
@Francis,
They aren't unknown, I know, Francis. (Because I live in a very multicultural country. Name any culture. You'll probably find it in Oz.)
But the distinct English/French sides of Canadians seems to me to be a different, more established thing. But maybe I'm wrong about this? I don't know.

msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 04:03 am
@msolga,
OK. I'll let them sleep & return later.

Happy dreams, Canada. Smile
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 04:16 am
@msolga,
... a little gentle music from Kate & Anna as you sleep.

Francis
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 04:48 am
@msolga,
What made you choose this particular(and beatiful) song?

Ce matin
Quote:
Exilée au milieu du continent
Je ne suis qu’un flocon dans le vent
Quand je rêve, je te revois
Fixé dans le moment
Dans la brume au bord de l’océan

Ce matin, tu sais, j’ai eu un haut le coeur
J’étais condamnée, condamnée solitaire

Ce matin, ma lettre m’est revenue
Estampé destinataire, destinataire inconnu
Ce matin un rêve m’est allé droit au coeur
Tu n’y étais guère, guère qu’une timide lueur

Ce matin je me suis couchée au point du jour
Approchant le point, le point de sans retour
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 05:00 am
@Francis,
Because I'm very familiar with Kate & Anna's McGarrigle's music (say nothing of Martha & Rupert) & I like it very much. I'm also very conscious of their French/Canadian inspirations. Their homage to traditions.

I know little about this song. But I was looking for a gentle song. And this one was. Beautiful. Smile

Are you going to tell us (non-French) folk what they were actually singing about, Francis?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 05:03 am
@msolga,
Canadians of French descent speak French almost exclusively, unless they happen to live in predominantly English-speaking parts of Canada. In la belle Province, French is required by law for public signs, including signs posted publicly by private individuals or businesses. The province of New Brunswick is the only province which is officially bi-lingual. Prior to 1759, the French were roughly divided between New France and Acadia. The English took over Acadia at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession (1713). Most of the inhabitants refused to swear allegiance to King George II, and the Brits had so much trouble with the Acadians, that in 1755, about 12,000 of them, those resident in what became Nova Scotia, were deported to Louisiana. Anyone familiar with the pronunciation of Acadien in French will understand why those people, now residents of the United States, came to be known as "Cajuns." The remainder of the inhabitants of l'Acadie became, eventually, residents of New Brunswick.

Nationally, Canada is officially a bilingual nation. Anyone who wants to be PM had better speak both languages. By an informal tradition, the Liberal party has usually offered an Anglophone candidate, followed by a Francophone candidate. But no matter the party, any candidate for the office of PM had better speak French. Recently, there was the bizarre spectacle of the PM, Stephen Harper, who speaks bad schoolboy French, actually speaking French better than his opponent, Stephan Dion (then, but no longer the leader of the Liberal Party) spoke English. As bad as Harper's French was, Dion's English was even worse.

There is constant conflict between the two cultural identities as you call them. There were bloody uprisings in the mid 1830s which were repressed with military force in both Upper and Lower Canada (Ontario and Québec respectively), and with particular brutality in Lower Canada. The British North American Act reorganized the provinces, and Upper Canada became Canada West while Lower Canada became Canada East. At that time, the birth rate in Canada East was sufficiently high that even the much higher rate of immigration to Canada West was unlikely to offset it. Although the population of Canada West was greater, the population of Canada East was likely to outstrip it (as actually did occur, for a time). So the two provinces of what was then Canada formed a joint Parliament, with a guarantee of numerically equal representation from both provinces. At the time that probably looked good to les habitants, but it actually tended to protect Canada West. The English-speaking people of Canada West were concerned that Anglophones in Canada East weren't going to get an education at public expense, so they made a deal under which they agreed to fund Catholic schools in Canada West, in return for a guarantee that public schools would be funded in Canada East. This didn't mean that those public schools would necessarily be Anglophone, but it did mean that Protestants would not be obliged to attend the schools which would have otherwise been run by the Catholic church.

The result is that today, there are two parallel school systems in Ontario, the Public District Schools and the Catholic District Schools. There has been heavy Italian, Portuguese and Latin American migration to Ontario, which means that the province has had a growing Catholic District Schools system to pay for. This has been deeply resented by Anglophone Canadians. It created a situation which plagued the Tories in the last provincial election, too. The leader of the Tories, John Tory (ironic, no?) put his foot in his mouth big time by attempting to capitalize on this, saying that the province should fund all religious school systems. That didn't please anyone, especially the Anglophones, who thought government shouldn't fund any religious schools. The press moved in like sharks in a feeding frenzy, and wouldn't let Tory talk about anything else. Tory not only lost the election to the Liberals, he lost his own seat, and now is no longer the leader of the Tories.

The main political differences are that within the province of Québec, there is a "fourth" political party. It's not exactly a national party, since its members are only elected from the province, but it still sends the third largest set of delegates to the Federal Parliament. Within Québec, its called le Parti Québecois and Federally, it's known as le Bloc Québecois. The Bloc has, at least notionally, been a coalition partner in the past, but most politicians from the rest of Canada are loathe to align themselves with the Bloc. Recently, the ADQ (Action Démocratique de Québec) has challenged the authority of the PQ within the province. Stephen Harper, at least theoretically, used the Bloc as his coalition partner when he first came to power, but that's always a morganatic marriage, and it didn't last even a year. Thereafter, he has bullied the Liberals into voting for his budgets. The Bloc gave him a list of five non-negotiable demands, so Harper has, incredibly, relied upon Liberal votes to support the Tory budgets, and he's gotten them, too, because the Liberals haven't been prepared to go to an election.

I sincerely doubt that you'll find any Canadians willing to describe for any good things which they experience from living with the two cultures. The Anglophones mostly wish les habitants would all drop dead, and the sentiment is cordially returned. License plates on cars in la belle Province read "Je me souviens," meaning "I remember," but more properly meaning "I haven't forgotten what you people have done to us."
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 05:21 am
@Setanta,
Quote:
I sincerely doubt that you'll find any Canadians willing to describe for any good things which they experience from living with the two cultures. The Anglophones mostly wish les habitants would all drop dead, and the sentiment is cordially returned. License plates on cars in la belle Province read "Je me souviens," meaning "I remember," but more properly meaning "I haven't forgotten what you people have done to us."


I'm a little bit stunned by this, Setanta. It wasn't at all what I expected to hear.
I mean, these two nationalities/cultures have lived side by side for so long.
Is it religion or culture that keeps them so segregated from each other, in your opinion?
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 05:30 am
@msolga,
msolga wrote:

That's what interests me. One nation. Two (I'm assuming) entirely different languages & cultures. How exactly does this work?


Just and only two - the Swiss with four (or five, if you add "Swiss German"), the Belgians have three as has Luxembourg ...

I haven't been to Canada but met quite a few Canadians when they were stationed here .... separated in different barracks/units same as the Belgians, who used those barracks later. (However, in my experience the language separation with the Belgians is worse than in Canada.)
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 05:41 am
@Walter Hinteler,
(I'm beginning to develop an even healthier respect for my own little country. I think we get "integrated" so much more easily (not without knocks & bumps, mind), with heaps of different nationalities (trust me). I'm wondering why this it is so difficult? )
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 05:47 am
On a lighter note: I think, if I lived in Canada, I would be seduced by French music. Smile
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 05:49 am
Mutual disgust. Canada was firmly French when the English began to take over. Among the things which the French haven't forgotten are the expulsion of the 12,000 Acadians in 1755, and the aftermath of the uprisings in the 1830s. It was bad enough in Upper Canada, where they lynched as many Americans as they could get their hands on. For most of Canada's history, until the last 50 years, the Americans have been the largest single immigrant group. So after the War of 1812, they lynched a lot of Americans as traitors, without much respect for the law. They did it again in 1837-8.

In lower Canada, though, it was much worse. The Governor, John Colborne, lead a rag-tag procession with a handful of troops and a long trail of bully boys--mostly Orangemen, which is to say Irish Protestants--around the province. If they encountered a Francophone who did not immediately swear allegiance to the King, they hanged him on the spot. If they came to a farm, and the farm owner did not immediately swear allegiance to the King, they burned down his farm. In some cases, they burned down entire villages. Les habitants dubbed him le vieus brûlot, meaning "the firebrand." He was recalled to England, but it was rather late for that by then.

You'll doubtlessly have lots of Canadians who will come here and tell you how rosy and sweet the relationship is (if they aren't willing to be honest). Don't you believe it for a moment. The Catholic school system in Ontario still irritates the sh*t out of most Anglophones. The ramifications continue to run deep. In 1996 there was a referendum in Québec on the issue of sovereignty. Chrétien's government (he was the liberal PM then), through the Liberal organization there spread around millions of dollars, mostly to favored law firms, for publicity for the non vote. The referendum failed, just barely (meaning the non vote prevailed). At the time, Paul Martin was the finance minister. Then ten years later, it cost the Liberals the government. Beginning in the early 2000s, word about the money paid out to law firms began to spread, and Justice John Gomery was appointed to head a royal commission to investigate the allegation of corruption. It became known as the sponsorship scandal, because of the name that the Liberal government gave to their program, which involved bid-rigging and other political chicanery as well. Basically, it was a give-away to counter the PQ efforts for the oui vote in the referendum. But it continued long after the referendum.

Gomery's commission came to lay the blame on the PM's office, although it exhonerated Chrétien himself. It also held Paul Martin blameless, even though he was then then finance Minister. Well, in 2005, he was the PM. He lost a confidence vote, and it went to an election. That was the election which made Stephen Harper the PM, with a (supposed) coalition partner in the Bloc.

There are a host of more subtle resentments, too. The prairie provinces are the conservative heartland, and they really don't like the French. They blame the French for the failure of the Meech Lake accords, when the then Tory PM, Brian Mulroney attempted to amend the constitution, which would have been in favor of Québec, but quixotically, the PQ torpedoed it. It would also, significantly, have amended the formula for amending the constitution, which currently requires the unanimous support of the provinces. That's probably why the PQ turned it down, because it would have taken away their veto power. Robert Bourassa, former Premier of Québec said: " . . . English Canada must clearly understand that, no matter what is said or done, Quebec is, today and forever, a distinct society, that is free and able to assume the control of its destiny and development." In several provinces, the governments went down to defeat, and the new governments revoked their approval of the accord. Since that time, the conservative prairie provinces have assumed the role of spoiler in national controversies, as though they would oppose the French by so doing, when the French couldn't really care what the English do, because they are going to go their own way regardless.

The English-speaking part of Canada really reacted badly to Charles DeGaulle, who visited the province in 1967, and said famously: "Vive le Québec libre!", to the wild applause of les habitants and the gnashing of teeth in the rest of the country.

It ain't no bed of roses.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 06:02 am
@msolga,
It's quite interesting to look at the names of the (former) Canadian barracks here: Fort Prince of Wales, Fort MacLeod, Fort York, Fort Chambly, Fort Saint Louis, Fort Qu'Appelle, Fort Beausejour... ... (I'll have to do some further research to find out if this is somehow language-related Wink )

msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 06:04 am
Well, as I said at the start of this discussion, I know very little (next to nothing) about these things.
Now I'm feeling more than a bit grim about what's been described to me.

I wonder what the French Canadians would say? Do we have any French Canadians here?
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

The Canada Thread - Discussion by Ceili
Happy Canada Day - Discussion by Ceili
NO CONFIDENCE AND DISSOLUTION . . . - Discussion by Setanta
Canadian elections? - Discussion by nimh
It's Canada Day...? Eh? - Question by tsarstepan
Who Wins Todays Canadian Election? - Discussion by hawkeye10
FORD GETS THE BOOT . . . - Discussion by Setanta
Happy Thanksgiving to our Canucks! - Question by Butrflynet
 
  1. Forums
  2. » Canada: the English & the French ...
Copyright © 2019 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 05/25/2019 at 03:35:27