I am a Canadian citizen by default, not by choice. The choice is that of my ancestors and foreign monarchs who ceded New France. Antoine Pilon, who left Bayeux, in Normandy, came to clear the land, start a family, get out of poverty and cultivate his plot of land.
What prompted my ancestor to leave everything for the promise of a few acres of snow? Definitely hope for better days and a place to build a new life. It is doubtful that this is what awaited him. Our ancestors are dispossessed, adventurous, desperate, courageous. They did not uproot themselves for a beautiful developed country. They came for a beautiful country to build. To root in the moonlight, gnawed by lice, eating turnips, all winter long while waiting for summer, as the Duplessis of Arcand and Lapointe used to say.
Nothing is perfect. My ancestors were not welcomed with open arms. They were settlers, settling in the St. Lawrence Valley, coexisting with the First Nations.
They saw themselves as French, perhaps Canayan, and could have been considered neo-Quebecois, or even proto-Quebecois.
The Quebec people is our collective, historical, social, territorial and cultural construction. It was left to us by those who came before us and we will leave it to those who will survive us. He was born here, raised here, forged here, endured here. It is the result of History. He did not appear in a vacuum and he exists in the present. Some of our people are descendants of settlers, others have been with us for a short time, others have joined our nation for a few generations already. All are from Quebec.
But how can we judge the term neo-Quebecois other than as a welcome in our big family? What is insulting, scornful, reductive, to state that what is, is? The term is outdated – it was the norm around 1970 – but how should we describe our new citizens? Only Quebec? Certainly, but the “neo” prefix is correct. You may not like it, I consider it appropriate since it is modeled on reality.
Between archaeo-Quebecers, meso-Quebecers and neo-Quebecers, our belonging to our people may differ over time, our contribution to the present remains the same and to the future depends only on us.
Experiencing political disagreements should not be the source of rupture between a people and one of its members. It is inevitable in a democracy, in a context of pluralism, that divergent opinions are expressed between us. It is entirely possible, and healthy, to have personal friendships, although some are political adversaries. We don’t need to vote on the same side.
I have caquist friends. They want a more conservative Quebec, focused on identity and economic issues, or even wanted to give François Legault the chance to carry out a full mandate without the management of a global pandemic. Quebec as it is right now suits them. Their choice is defendable, even if I do not share it.
I have supportive friends. They are generally seduced by their assertive attitude, strong social positions, clear commitment to the environment, or simply cast a protest vote. Their choice is defendable, even if I do not share it.
I have liberal friends. One of them told me he was convinced by the green hydrogen project put forward by Dominique Anglade. His choice is defendable, even if I do not share it.
Personally, I am a PQ. I want to be a Quebec citizen by choice, and not a Canadian citizen by default. I believe in our social democracy, in the need for many social, economic and political reforms. I believe in the need to protect our language. My choice defends itself, but many of my friends do not share it.
I am free to voice my opinions, discuss them with my friends, experience powerful disagreements, sometimes leading to conflicts. I accept the democracy prize.
Your letter puts your finger on a recently amplified and absolutely deleterious phenomenon for our public institutions: radicalization. Our echo chambers amplify concurring opinions, distort discordant opinions. We must relearn how to dialogue and accept disagreements.
Regardless of the personal disappointments, the breaking points, belonging to the Quebec people is either inevitable or a choice. The door is open to anyone who wants to join. Those who are there by default have had no choice. Nevertheless, belonging to the people of Quebec has nothing to do with it. It is a privilege worth cherishing. And to your question, I would answer: don’t go anywhere, this is your home.