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How to save Quebec: The solution lies in bilingualism

by George Menexis March 18, 2014 1 comment
How to save Quebec: The solution lies in bilingualism

Why one student believes that our differences should ultimately unite us

Quebec is a province of political strife. I think that’s been made obvious in recent months. As long as I can remember, English and French were seen as two different species of people in Quebec. They mostly live together peacefully, but when push comes to shove, it’s always French pitted against English. That is why Quebec is stalled as it watches its neighboring provinces flourish.

An ideal future for Quebec would involve coexistence for anglos and francophones. Graphic by Jenny Kwan.

In Quebec, there are a few who laugh at what is going on, deeming it ridiculous and childish. They laugh at the OQLF and their mission, they laugh at the so called Charter of Values that will supposedly unite Quebec, and they laugh at the anglophones who refuse to learn French. These are the bilingual citizens; and with any luck, they’re the ones that will save Quebec.

Quebec has been blessed with an opportunity: we are a French province within an English country, with an enormous allophone population. These are factors that are blissfully ignored by closed-minded, unilingual people that bring this province down. They fail to see the potential that Quebec could have. Imagine a Quebec where everyone embraced bilingualism, and where everyone would speak two languages. Is this difficult to achieve? Absolutely not.

I learned to speak English, French, and Greek before going to elementary school. I didn’t know or cared why (or how) I knew three languages, I just knew them. It was only when I got older that I realized what knowing more than one language could mean. I was marketing myself without even knowing it. It has also allowed me to look at the political situation in Quebec from a neutral eye and try to understand the mindset of the ongoing conflict, and how it can be resolved without another referendum.

“As Canada teeters on the verge of fracturing, I am sometimes subject to fits of sentiment about this cockeyed country I grew up in and still call home. Impatient with our two founding races, I wonder why, instead of constantly picking at the scabs of their differences, they couldn’t learn to celebrate what binds them together,” wrote esteemed Canadian novelist Mordecai Richler, a Montrealer with a particular interest in Quebec’s language policies, in his book Oh Canada! Oh Quebec! Requiem for a divided country.

Anyone who has grown up and lived in Quebec loves Quebec. They’ll always complain about it, though. But despite the oppression felt by both sides, they still call it home. So for people that are trying to make it something its not, why not just let it be? Let Quebec flourish in two languages, and let us anglophones live in peace. Quebec will always be unique, whether it’s a country or a part of Canada. Every allophone and anglophone living in Quebec would kid themselves if they said Quebec didn’t have their own unique culture. However, this unique culture is also the drive behind separatist Quebecers. Sure, maybe Quebec was meant to be a country. But after having preserved the French language, and even having it flourish within Canada, separating now would only be a greedy, idealist win that would ruin Quebec.

I can’t stand watching the province I grew up in be consumed by so much negativity towards the so called other side. Instead, let’s encourage everyone to learn Canada’s two official languages and watch this province flourish. Lead by example and who knows, maybe the rest of Canada will speak French one day.

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