Je me souviens...


A Short History of Québec v Canada

fortresses of solitudes


Frenchmen began settling the Québec area ( originally Canada ) in the later half of the 16th century and early 17th century. While other european colonies expanded quickly, the French-Canaïens mostly just explored the continent, and New France colonies remained pretty small despite explorers having mapped out most of the continent - the French outposts sustained themselves primarily through the trading of animal furs, which had great value in Europe at the time. In the 17th century, tensions gradually rose between colonial powers and their various native allies/enemies, and several wars occured between the French and the Iroquois tribe(s) which were allied with the British.

By this time, Britain's colonies had grown very large and had multiplied healthily thanks to sustained immigration. In the 18th century, the european kingdoms engaged in the Seven Years War which rippled into the american colonies, and ultimately led to the British invasion of Québec City, in 1759. They met very little opposition at the infamous bataille des plaines d'Abraham, and occupied the town. In 1763, the entire territory of Québec (Canada) was ceded by France to England, in the aftermath of the war. At that moment, the people of Québec (Canada) ceased to be French, and had the choice of being British, pledging allegiance to the King, or die. Churches were burned. examples were made. It was not a happy time to be Canadien.

Québec ( now "Lower" Canada ) remained in almost absolute isolation for a century, give or take a decade, forbidden by their new British masters to navigate the Saint-Laurent river and deal with France and the Old World. During this time, the tensions rose between francophones and neighbouring anglophones ( who gradually set up a base in Montréal from which they could control Lower Canada ) as french-speaking people started to demand actual power over their lands -- let's remember here that the USA had become independent (1777) only a few years after the conquest of Québec, and that was soon followed by the French Revolution (1789) - so democracy had become a real ideal to follow. Faced with a reluctant British authority, a rebellion erupted in 1838-39 ( which also inspired a smaller one in Upper Canada / current-day Ontario ), but was crushed. Those we call the Patriots were hanged, more examples being made, and so then things quieted down again for a while.

In devising a way to prevent further rebellions, it was decided that Upper and Lower Canadas would be joined into a single political entity, relatively independent of British monarchy - this was in 1867, and that's the birth of Canada as we know it; other provinces would be gradually annexed to the British Dominion in following decades, until Newfoundland in 1949. Recommendations to the King at the time included instituting a policy for the assimilation of French-speaking people, and the plan of joining the two Canadas worked towards this in that it effectively transformed the French-Canadien majority into a minority. They could then pretend to institute a democracy, confident that french voices would never speak louder than english.

Then came the 20th century, and the industrial revolution. Québec progressively acquired some political control over its territory, piece by piece. Both world wars caused a lot of strife in Canada as French-Canadians protested the draft - it was way worse in WW2 because the government of the time had been elected along with the solemn vow not to institute a draft - a decision reversed during the course of the war when a national referendum was held to liberate the government from its promise. A vast majority of Québec citizens voted against it, but that didn't matter much, since the rest of Canada voted for. Thanks to their minority status, the French-Canadians were sent to the front lines, and used as cannon fodder.

After the war, a lot of things changed. With television, Québec culture was better allowed to bloom - stories of itself finally spreading - and soon a deep movement of resentement against the Catholic Church set in, leading to something of a revolution ( known as Révolution Tranquille, or Quiet Revolution ), of people freeing themselves from the authority of religion which had long controlled every aspect of their lives. It's around this time that the Québécois really started to call themselves Québécois, as the Brits around them had long since adopted the name Canadian for their own. Up until this period in time, most jobs of importance ( i.e. most of the money and power ) was held exclusively by the anglophone minority in the "Belle Province". But then as francophones grew out of the authority of the church and the subservience to anglophone bosses ( it was also the time of emerging syndicalism ), the idea of Québec forming a sovereign nation implanted itself, and the first true independence movements started appearing in the 1960s, around much turmoil.

Starting in 1963, there was a period of terrorism ( localised in Montréal ) from the most radical of independentist elements, called the FLQ ( Front de Libération du Québec ). It reached a peak in october of 1970, at which point Canada declared martial law in Montréal, when the FLQ kidnapped a provincial minister, who later died while attempting to escape his captors. The death of Laporte led to the terrorist group quickly losing all popular support within Québec, and then everyone put down the weapons. The struggle for independence ( or secession, or sovereignty, but which federalists would ever persist in innaccurately calling "separation", in order to make liberty sound evil ) moved to the political arena with the creation of a sovereigntist coalition called Parti Québécois, which eventually led to a first referendum on sovereignty in 1980 ( oui: 40.5% ).

In winning this referendum, the government of Canada promised to settle once and for all the situation of Québec, but that only led to bringing the Canadian constitution home ( from London, England ) in 1982, a constitution that Québec refused to sign because it would not recognise a special status for the distinct society that the Québécois represent in Canada. With the creation of several new provinces of Canada over the years, the Québécois were reduced from one of two founding nations, to one of ten artificial divisions, and that situation severely interfered with Québec's power of auto-determination. The 80s and early 90s brought two more failed attempts at reaching a compromise ( as far-away provinces of Canada applied a continued objection to Québec demands ) and following these failures a new referendum on sovereignty was held in 1995 ( oui: 49.5% ).

And here we are, sort of examining the truth behind the infamous events of autumn 1995, as it becomes gradually more apparent that Canada deployed a whole arsenal of illegal, fraudulent, and immoral means to acquire victory ( with lots and lots and lots of money ). Québec awaits, as, unbeknowst to most people, the powers that be plot to merge the sovereign nations of the North American continent.


Facts gathered from learned history in school, and much wandering online

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