And now for some good news.
Despite what our government would have us believe, Quebecers value bilingualism and actually feel pretty positive about anglophones’ place within the “nation” of Quebec.
Yes, you read that right. After years of the Coalition Avenir Quebec’s divisive identity politics and numerous language policies that make many anglo Quebecers feel like unwanted second-class citizens, it would stand to reason that Quebecers of both languages might feel that English and English speakers are not welcome in this province.
Happily, that is not the case – at least not according to a recent poll that indicates the opposite. The results of a Leger Marketing poll of 1,000 Quebecers conducted for the Association of Canadian Studies back in September shows that, for the most part, francophones and anglophones are getting along quite well together, and both communities feel a strong sense of belonging in their province.
According to the poll’s results, two-thirds of the English-speaking Quebecers surveyed said they feel they are part of the Quebec nation. Three-quarters of francophones agreed that anglophones belong to the nation, as did 92 per cent of allophone respondents.
The poll also found that the linguistic communities feel less like “Two Solitudes” and instead report having positive interactions with each other, and both groups take pride in their increasing bilingualism.
Defining Quebec as a “nation” can mean different things to different groups, but the poll indicated that it is an important aspect of Quebecers’ sense of identity.
Jack Jedwab, president and CEO of the Association of Canadian Studies and the Metropolis Institute, was interviewed by The Montreal Gazette for its story on this poll and said: “That’s a very dominant theme in political discourse here, that reaffirmation that Quebec is a nation…. So if Quebec is going to frame issues in terms of who is part of the nation and isn’t part of the nation, then English-speaking Quebecers are going to say, like they did in the survey, ‘We’re part of that nation.’ And francophones, for the most part, also say (anglophones are) part of the nation.”
And this, he went on to say, is happening despite the ongoing and increasingly punitive measures against the anglo community by the current CAQ government. In other words, feelings of alienation in their own province are not held by the majority of Quebec’s anglophones nor is a feeling of resentment toward the English community held by most of the province’s francophones.
Here in the Gatineau Hills we have maintained a sense of linguistic harmony for a very long time. Examples abound of the two linguistic communities mingling and working together – you see it at local council meetings, public events, fundraisers, in the stores and, very importantly, in the number of English-speaking parents who choose to either enroll their children into a French school or immersion program to ensure they become bilingual.
So don’t believe everything the politicians tell you. We are getting along well, and we’re doing something right, here in Quebec.