HOME 3. NORTH AMERICAN ROOT
QUEBECERS ARE NORTH AMERICAN EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES

Coca-Colanization or not, we shouldn’t worry about being Americanized because we are already North Americans…without necessarily being Yankees.

Let’s not develop a split personality simply because we border the US. By trying too hard to avoid everything that comes from our neighbours to the south we could miss out on important aspects of technology, humanities and the arts.

Quebecers, the first Europeans to live in America, are proud of their melting pot continent and have gladly adapted to its intricacies. If a culture has to be open-minded and adaptable in order to survive, then ours has been a role model since the get-go.

In the middle of the 18th century Americans urged the British to fight with the French to get them out of North America. “There is no rest in sight for our 13 colonies as long as the French rule Canada,” wrote a son of Uncle Sam.

Later on these same people had the nerve to ask us to help them get rid of the British. We plainly refused. That’ll teach ‘em!

In La prochaine revolution (The Next Revolution) Léon Dion writes:


“One of Quebec’s distinct features is that we have to deal with Americans more than any other people because we’re so close to them physically, geographically and intellectually. We can speak out against the US all we want but the truth is we’d be hard-pressed to live comfortably if we didn’t have the help and support of our neighbours, which leads us to accept the presence of the US and to attempt, as far as French-speaking Quebecers are concerned, to do it the French way.”


Or better yet, the Quebecer way.

Pierre Vallières, in Le Québec impossible (Quebec the Impossible) writes that, “Canada is a US state on probation.”

Marcel Rioux takes the thought even further, saying, “There is no doubt that the Quebec population’s animosity as a whole is directed more towards Canada than the US, a sign that we feel alienation from our own country on a level much deeper than from just an economic and cultural standpoint.”

This Common Sense Heartstring makes Quebecers aware of their material and chronological heritage on a daily basis, and it acts as an antidote to the poison secreted by the Minority Root.

As for the deep-seated, strong and Vital North American Root, it carries the random elements of our Anglophone tendencies. Every day we’re influenced by the millions of English speakers who surround us in Quebec, Canada and the US. And let’s not forget the direct influence the other Commonwealth countries – and Mother England herself – have over us, too.

The North American Root also grows in Amerindian soil, but we prefer not to talk about that. In her book, Je suis une maudite sauvagesse (I Am a Damned Savage), Montagnais Anne André writes, “Out of all the peoples in this world I can’t imagine any other with as much pride of culture and language as our neighbours.”

I find it strange, in this day and age when the conscience of Quebecers seems to be on sale to the highest bidder, that we’re trying to solve the problems of those who may have taken everything from us without first wanting to make things right with those from whom we took everything.

Because on top of many relatives, we owe a lot to these “savages” for introducing us to products like maple syrup and spruce gum. And teaching us ways to sprout and store grains and vegetables. And showing us how to fish, hunt and get around on the land with tools like snowshoes and canoes. And sharing their clothes, furs, moccasins and leggings. And as if that wasn’t enough, we also owe them for all the words and geographical names we borrowed from them.

And many of these “redskins” are our first cousins through what a Jesuit of the time called “unions we don’t know what to make of.” In fact, it appears that 250,000 Quebecers have Amerindian blood running through their veins. Shameless gossip-monger Dollier de Casson wrote about the unfortunate story of Sir de la Barre. “In 1645, Maisonneuve ordered de la Barre to return to France for getting a savage pregnant.” And closer to home there’s the tale of Jack Monoloy made popular in a song by Gilles Vigneault.

Quebec red power, like frog power, has become increasingly popular over the last 15 years (that’s what we get for letting American community organizer Saul Alynsky into Canada). And just like English Canadians faced with the grand aspirations of La Belle Province, we look at these redskins with puzzled expressions and wonder, What do they want?

Even though Native Americans may think our Je me souviens (I remember) motto is a little weak, we’ve earned our place and have been a part of this continent for centuries. The fact that we’ve been here since the 1600s actually created a rivalry between the real habitants, those who live here year-round, and the hivernants, those who only live here during winter, like civil servants, soldiers or traders from France, the profiteers who head back home as soon as the ice melts in spring. These friendly relationships led to the first of our Nationalisms as revealed by Heartstring 18.

Although the language of The Bard is not as popular since the Parti Québécois came to power in 1976, the Quebec Assembly is deeply rooted in British and American tradition. We borrowed the parliament and monarchy aspects of politics from England when we wrote the Constitutional Act of 1791 (Crown lands, Royal Commission and so on). And we copied the US when we drafted the British North America Act of 1867 by using the federal component of their two-tiered government. The only product of our political system that stems from the French Root is the Napoleonic Code.

Let’s face facts, people. If someone is looking to paint an accurate portrait of the situation in Canada or Quebec, they definitely have to factor in the current economic and cultural circumstances at play in the US.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that the experiments conducted with regard to this Root provided us with some very interesting results. And the Heartstrings that stem from our North Americanness imply that the traditional ideal of Quebecers is one of loyalty to their paradise lost.

Joe gets quite worked up when he explains it:


“Quebecers who don’t go to New York City for a quick trip two or three times a year are really out of it. You need to go there to shop, see some shows, visit museums and people watch. If you ask me, New York City is the centre of the world.”


So who’s afraid of the big bad American wolf? No true Quebecer is, that’s for sure.

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© 2014 – English translation and website by Lawrence Creaghan. Published online with the permission of Guérin Éditeur Ltée and the Fondation Jacques-Bouchard.