Québec…My Country, Mon Pays

My plans to write about the film “Québec, My Country, Mon Pays” today became  heightened after the past weekend’s tragedy at a Québec City mosque. My heart goes out to the people who were practicing a peaceful prayer, their families, and the community, that includes us.

I lived in Québec City. J’ai vecu a Québec. I know that when we say “a Québec” (in Québec) as opposed to “au Québec” (also, in Québec) that the former means the city, and not the province, the latter. I spent 4 years there. First, studying French. Secondly, studying acting at Le Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique de Québec.

Then… I moved to Montreal. Where my Dad grew up, partly. And, that’s when I relate to the film Québec, My Country, Mon Pays. No, I wasn’t an Anglophone who was born there, but I certainly can relate to some of what is discussed in John Walker’s documentary on being an Anglophone in the Québec French community. It’s not always easy.

denysarcand

The documentary goes back to prior and during the FLQ crisis when the province became a more dangerous place to reside as an Anglophone. Extreme measures were taken by a small group that grew in its power and intention. Bombs were randomly placed in English communities in Montreal (way more than I realized) and living became stressful. Not for the French.

As a result, there was a massive exodus which suited the French quite well. More “space” for them. Not all French agreed with this movement. However, around 300,000 “anglos” left between the 60s to the late 80s. Some stayed. Director, John Walker’s sister ran away from Toronto to return to Montreal after their family had joined the exodus. She is still determinedly there, with her own family.

john-walker

I left in 1992. I wanted to remain. I loved Montreal. I loved that I had learned the language and could perform now in my second language. I had learned all about a culture and came out of my school as the only English person to have done the Conservatoire in over 50 years. (I think I was an experiment!). I loved my walk up apartments and the crazy tradition of so many people moving in the spring once leases were up. I loved the variety of cultures, the food, the energy, even walking in the snow.

But. It was hard for me to find work as an actor, an English actor. Roles went to the French first. And, I got disheartened by all the “A louer” (to rent) signs everywhere.

So I moved to Vancouver.

After viewing this film, I remembered why I loved being in Québec, and I recalled all of Dad’s fond memories and his sadness when his family uprooted to Toronto. He always regretted that he could have learned piano from Oscar Peterson who lived just down the road.

For the French who also left for the West, you might feel a pang of nostalgia when you watch the documentary. Or maybe not. Maybe you’ll feel validated in your choice of leaving.

Me? Moi? I have mixed feelings.

Come and see “Québec My Country My Pays” as part of the Rendez-Vous French Film Festival in Vancouver, on Sunday February 5th, 4:00pm and stick around for a wonderful line-up of shorts by Wakiponi, at 6pm and a second documentary on the uprising in Spain, 7:00pm, “Le Peuple Interdit“. Themes are all about self-identity. A timely subject in our tumultuous times.

For Tickets

2017

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7 thoughts on “Québec…My Country, Mon Pays

    1. Merci Regis…. Le Quebec reste toujours dans mon coeur. Merci pour le film et pour le Rendez-Vous French Film Festival a Vancouver. C’est important de continuer de partager des films Francophones a CB. Merci…

  1. Kate Stewart

    Beautifully written, Trilby. It was indeed a horrifyingly strange time, as maybe your mother will have shared with you, along with countless history books that dry the subject to inevitable dissipative dust.

    The country was torn apart by the actions and implications of the War Measures Act , yet united in shocked dismay at what seemed to be unfolding with an almost random insanity in1970. Being so naive and barely returned to the place of my birth, I’m not sure what I would have done in Trudeau senior’s place. The WMA felt unreal and uncomfortable for freedom-loving Canadians, and while it helped end the evil and remedy the country’s anxiety and dis-ease relatively quickly, a scar was left that was always slightly palliated. Together the public mourned the loss of individuals they did not know, as families grieved loved ones. Painful, too, was the loss of the bubble of innocence that had seemed to surround Canada; a bubble never mentioned yet none-the-less, equally real to those living under its’ protective illusion.

    There is, with the madness opening up to the south, perhaps no better point in time to reconsider the edgy, uncomfortable disquiet that rippled over Canada in very dark days and celebrate, while by no means perfect, the changes time and – one surely hopes – informed sensitivity has wrought.
    I know you’ll debase me of any false optimism if there is that need.

  2. Once again, Kate, thank you for your thought filled response. I respect your point of view, all the time. Thanks for reading and sharing. I will never debase any optimism.. false or not! We need it right now! XO

  3. Kate Stewart

    Appreciated the follow up. Didn’t realize there were so many bombs either. Authorities may have played down that fact deliberately. Hope I get a chance to see this film someday, fill in some gaps. BTW, despite being an ardent Hawaiian activist, I sometimes ran into that ‘you’re ok, but you’re not “really” one of us’ awkward dismissals (Certainly what it felt like.) When I wrote on subjects that were indigenous, I also occasionally ran into the ‘how could she really understand’ attitude, despite the work being first-rate. It hurt to be dismissed because I am spotted with light freckles and will always be very pale. Especially explaining I was not a wanna-be. I’m happy with myself but kanaka maoli could – and would – express raw hissing anger at whites who used cannon to steal the Kingdom, even if you weren’t their descendants. It certainly make me feel unnecessarily defensive at times. Being the outsider, especially after a long time and total proof of years of goodwill, can feel very negative and isolating. My islands, your Québec….both with invisible boundaries we may never fully cross.
    Wish it were otherwise….

  4. I saw the movie recently and I liked it. I’m a bilingual Francophone, so it was interesting for me to hear Walker’s perspective which I found touching. It was strange to hear his collaborator (can’t remember the young lady’s name) talking to her French counterpart and stressing that it’s hard to live in Québec with an English name, while that is exactly what several French people say they experience at the Canadian level. And both communities are angry because they feel the other is unmoved by their struggles. It was heartbreaking to see that a positive action for some, meant losing something precious for others, and vice versa. I have French and English friends, I watch both English and French TV channels, and it does seem like we are living on different planets (our news are different even if we live in the same city, our cultural references are different, etc.). On both sides, we never hear about the other’s issues from his/her own mouth, it’s always our own interpretation of what the other’s motives are… It’s no wonder that there are so many misunderstandings between us.

    However, as Walker’s movie captured, we are a collectivity and we share a certain set of characteristics, including a form of progressive creativity that is unique. Both communities should open up and listen to the other’s testimonies, so we can grow and start to build real bridges. I don’t agree with certain assumptions Walker made regarding the Francophones and that irritated me a bit, but I think that’s exactly why we should open up and listen to each other with an open mind and an open heart, even if we disagree, so we can get past our predjudices and those stupid stereotypes and get to know people as they truly are.

    Much love from Montréal!
    Salutations 🙂

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