The Canadian Divide Between French Quebecois and the Rest of Canada

The two groups in Quebec that are marginalized are the French speaking, also known as Francophones, who are predominately Catholic and the English speaking, also known as Anglophones, who are predominately Protestants.

According to the video “Referendum Take Two”, the French Quebecois wanted an independent state because they felt the Canadian government did not properly represent them. They felt that since much of Canada was English-speaking than the Canadian government did not give French Quebecois the dignity that they deserved. The English Quebecois did not want Quebec to become an independent state because Quebec they consider it their home and because if it was made an independent state, the French Quebecois would be in the majority since most people there speak French.

Many Canadians view the conflict as one that involves politics and power and they do not want to have to choose sides. They understand the concern of French Quebecois but view them becoming an independent nation as a divorce from Canada. The French Quebecois had a vote in 1982 for independence and lost but when another vote for independence was done in 1994, the French Quebecois lost but by a narrower margin.

Sovereignty is the supreme power from which all specific political powers are derived. It is intangible until it is exercised. Mostly it is in reference to strong feelings people have among the same ethnic affiliation. Sovereignty gives a group absolute power or power of the people to govern themselves without interference from other sovereign nations. In terms of Native American tribes, sovereign power gives the tribe the power to determine their own form of government, to define their own membership, the power to administer justice and enforce laws, and the power to tax.

Sovereign nations are based on the premise that the group is preserving their identity. Identity is defined as a group which maintains and preservers their culture, language, ethnic affiliation, and religion. Identity is never static meaning that it can never be defined by one factor; it is rather defined by a combination of factors. It includes ideas about race and ethnicity and it is adaptive to new social realities such as changes in gender, class, age, religion, occupation, religion, and political affiliation. It is a means of consolidating power, participating in the political process, exerting influence and control over specific situations, and these are used as a way of defending identity.

French Quebecois wants to be sovereign to maintain their identity and to be in control of them. Being a sovereign nation would help them preserve their French culture and would help prevent the majority of English Quebecois to put pressure on the French to change their culture, language, and religion to that of the dominate culture.

The goal of French Quebecois to be sovereign placing them in the same category as the Mohegan Indians and the Mashantucket Pequot Indians belong to today. Both Indian nations are sovereign to state (Connecticut) laws and have the sovereign right to govern themselves. By doing this, both tribes are able to preserve their identities by creating a place where they are not only self-supporting and make a huge profit but also seek to unite tribal members and offer educational services to them so that members can learn to speak the native tongue.

When comparing the Mohawk Tribe to French Quebec, it is hypocritical that a nation that has struggled to create its own identity with the French culture would force an Indian tribe from their reservation and doing so attempt to destroy their culture. French Quebec knows what it is like to be a minority and likewise should respect the Mohawk Tribe and allow them to occupy the land that is in their reservation.

The conflict between the Mohawk Tribe was explained in the video “Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance”. The movie is set on a hot July day in 1990 in the village of Oka, Quebec. Alanis Obomsawin led his people, the Kanehsatake Mohawk people of First Nations, in a seventy-eight day armed standoff with the Quebec police and the Canadian army. Developers wanted to expend a golf course into the Mohawk reservation and forcibly take their land. The tribe’s spiritual beliefs and pride in their ancestry lead him and his people to protect their land.

This standoff was a form of resistance. Resistance is always a political movement where armed conflict may be the strategy for ending the struggle. Resistance strengthens identity as a group and identity as a group forges resistance.

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