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Mes Aïeux: Part One

Mes Aïeux: Part One

The history of the Québécois may be described as convoluted, at best, and entirely gaslit as a worst-case scenario, with perhaps more questions to be asked than answered. What may be said about their nationalist movement is that there remains to this day a deeply rooted understanding of racial self-awareness which lies dormant, awaiting the right moment for its vivacious reawakening. In contrast to the historical facts that the motivations of Québécois Separatism from the rest of Canada were purely ethnic, the media and political class would have the ignorant masses believe that this movement held its basis instead in linguistic and perhaps religious reasoning. While there is some truth to this, the latter proposed reasons fall strictly under the umbrella term for race. To ignore completely the treatment of French Canadians by the Crown for purely racial reasons must not go unheeded. Despite the transgressions committed on both sides, achieving a greater understanding of our histories and setting aside the differences amongst fraternal and equal peoples remains one of many objectives of our movement. Indeed, the separatist movement was the most prominent movement of racial pride in the Americas. I dare also take the historical facts to their ultimate  conclusions: the Québécois today are more French than even the French.

Our national symbols, for example, more ancient than the colony of Nouvelle-France herself which were brought to the New-World by the first French Settlers, manifest openly across the Province. One only has to gaze upon the provincial flag to find such symbols. The tetrad of white fleur-de-lis, the symbol for the French Monarchy and purity, quartered by white cross both lie prominently over a sea of blue representing the heavens.

The popularization of the flag arose during the Seven’s Year War from the initial French victory at Carillon by the illustrious General Marquis Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, who in 1758 repelled the invading British forces of 12,000 militias and 6,000 regulars (18,000 in total) with only 3,600 troops.[1] Unfortunately, the Marquis had perished the following year at the battle of the Plaines d'Abraham in Quebec City as he and his men failed to repel the invading British armies. On his death bed, he had written a final letter to the enemy which capitulated the city and fort to the British. In exchange for his life, his troops killed the equally talented General Wolfe on the English side. In the centre of a lesser-known version of the flag, the Sacré-Coeur (sacred heart) imposes a tremendous sense of pietas, which scholars attribute to a centuries-old worship of Jesus Christ, whose heart was penetrated on the cross and represents the sacrifice of the Lord. In this context, the sacrifice made was for the glory of Nouvelle-France.

The colony was consequentially lost to the British forces, and her territories were ceded by France in the wake of in its defeat. Despite this loss, the French Colonists had proven their worth to their King and Country: the colonies were a force to be reckoned with. Still to this day, our myth contains the parable of General Frontenac who responded to the request of emissary Phips for his surrender at the Battle of Québec before the first gun shot: "je vous répondrai par la bouche de mes canons."[2] I will respond to you with the mouth of my canons and with gunfire; that your King learns that this is not the way to treat a gentleman such as myself, not to speak less of my brave officers who will never consent [to surrender].

Regardless, the people remained steadfast in the wake of English victory and the Crown's impositions which the French colonists had to face in defeat. The school curriculum in Canada had washed away almost entirely references of these egregious acts from the textbooks, but they remained reticent in the hearts of many Québécois generations later. Many of the same inhibitions and restrictions which consequentially led to the American Revolution were imposed with far less impunity on the French colonists. Foremost, we shall briefly mention the tragedy of the deportations of the Acadian peoples in modern day Nova Scotia. At the time, the region held the title of Poboncoup - from which we still have the town name Pubnico – and is the oldest city in Canada still occupied by the descendants of its founders.[3] This region was established by a certain Philius Mius d'Entremont, a progenitor of royal descent and a direct ancestor of mine. The word Mius derives from the German word for Greater - as his Grandfather supposedly hailed from Switzerland and emigrated to a Principality in Germany and later married into French aristocracy.[4] Shortly after the Seven Year War, Acadian families were torn from their lands and forced either deep in Louisiana or were forcibly returned to France. From this act of forced removal, the Cajun peoples were born and remain extant. Thankfully, a large portion of the Acadian emigrants were allowed to return to their homes in the Maritimes by 1764, some 16 years later.[5]

The English crown also eliminated freedom of the press, by issuing only British printing presses to be commissioned in all of Canada, and held a stringent monopoly of censorship on all colonists - French and now English. This proved especially disconcerting as mainly materials produced in English would come out of the presses and sold on the streets of Montreal.[6] I must, however, also note that the French Monarchy had equally banned printing presses in the colony. Despite this fact, French Newspapers were still circulated under heavy scrutiny. Many examples arise which prove the arbitrary nature of British control over the press. One notable example is the suppression of the newspaper Le Canadien, one of the most influential papers of its time in Canada, which had resulted in the arrest of journalists Pierre Bédard and Francois Blanchet for having criticized the abuses of the crown against French Canadians. Lord Durham, author of the famous Report of the Affairs of British North America, had interjected in a dinner conversation between Senator Dumouchel and Lord Dufferin at Rideau Hall: “with a government as corrupted as the one you have here, it is quite surprising that things had not gone much further”[7] in reference to the Patriot Rebellion of 1837-1838. Another proof of the abuses committed against the French citizens lies in the 11th request of the 92 Resolutions, a series of reforms and grievances drafted by Louis-Joseph Papineau, leader of the rebellion, which was sent to the courts in England: “that liberty and independence of the press shall exist in all manners and public affairs.” These requests were ignored for three years and ultimately all 92 resolutions were rejected outright.

One of the most precious hidden gems of the young nation before the war lies in the origins of many of the French settlers had which colonized the golf of the Saint-Laurence River. The educational system of Canada would have you believe the mendacity that the ancestors of Quebecois were nothing more than miscreants, prisoners, orphans and vagabonds which the French Government enthusiastically shipped overseas. However, primary and secondary sources speak of a different reality entirely. Today, the historians claim that the Filles du Roy (daughters of the King), the young ladies brought to the colony to balance the large male population were of the lowest quality. This claim could fall further from the truth. While a majority of these young ladies were in fact orphans - thus named the Filles du Roy, a large number hailed from aristocratic backgrounds, were well raised by their family members and schooled from a young age. In 1649, Jeanne Mance, mother of the Québécois, had brought to Ville-Marie, present day Montréal, many "virtuous young ladies." In 1654, the Queen herself proclaimed that a new envoy of young ladies to Nouvelle-France were "numerous and unquestionably honest."[8] On the contrary, the King would never accept his seal of royal approval on any venture which was beneath his title is proof enough of the quality and virtue of these young ladies. This trend continued, as a large portion of colonists to the territories were warriors of some of the highest calibre in all of France. Already, I mentioned the General Montcalm and Frontenac who led their armies during the Seven Year War.

The famous Intendant Jean Talon, who recommended the bringing of the Filles du Roy[9] in 1673 to the colony, himself proclaimed that these were respectable young ladies. Talon is well known for the two censuses which he had conducted in his time. During his visits, he proclaimed that: "the residents of Montréal speak a higher French than on the streets of Paris."[10] Indeed, there were factually more aristocrats per capita in the colony than in the capital back in Europe. The mainland French claim to speak “proper French,” a direct insult to the Québécois. However, it was the Québécois who preserved old French, while the European nation had adopted a fake bourgeois perversion of the original language. Furthermore, Talon found that the education of the colonists established and organized by the clergy to have even surpassed the curriculum of most European capital cities- a gap ultimately lost due to the control of the printing presses.

There exists equally the notion that the Québécois are a race founded on the miscegenation of the French and Indians. This is based on the fact that the French Government had paid Indians 3,000 pounds to each Amerindian who married a French. However, there were only 120 official marriage contracts between Indians and French by 1680.[11] The same year, there were already 10,000 individuals in Quebec. Furthermore, many more colonists had settled in the colony in the subsequent decades, growing to over 55,000 by 1750.[12] On the contrary, the accusations of miscegenation are baseless: Monseigneur Tanguay, historian and clergyman, had found that out of over 2 million marriage documents in the registries of the Catholic Diocese in Nouvelle-France and throughout Europe, only 94 were between French and Indian.[13] Jeanne Mance had once proclaimed herself that: “we make more easily a savage with a French, than a French with a savage.”[14] Indeed, at the time of Jean-Talon only 3000 Indians, whose numbers would only decrease, were living in proximity of French colonies. The fact remains that every Québécois can trace his ancestry back to the French Provinces of Gascoigne and Bretagne, and not to the MicMaqs.

The Patriot Rebellion, previously mentioned, is perhaps the last crucial event before the turn of the 20th century, to have influenced the separatist movement some 70 years later. Make no mistake, the rebellion of 1837 was strictly a racial rebellion.[15] The Patriot party demanded representation of the French in Parliament, which was dominated by a small group of mostly English businessmen known as the Chateau Clique. Essentially, this movement remonstrated the monopolies imposed on the French in banking, timber trade, transportation, and so forth. Almost 30,000 men led by Jean-Phillipe Papineau, including 25,000 volunteers, had taken up arms to fight the British.[16] However, the rebels were defeated leading directly to the Act of Union of 1840 which saw Upper and Lower Canada coalescing into a single nation. This was the straw which broke the camel's back as it was an intentional move to attempt to remove all French influence in Canada, since the English were to outnumber the French within the decade (1851).[17]

During the following 70 years, the Québécois mostly bit their lips as the English dominated trade, business, and politics. Repressed animosity between the two groups lingered across the two Canadas, yet violent clashes sporadically occurred between them. Most of these feelings sprouted from a Nationalist fervour for a Canada free from the control of British interference. During the Alaska boundary dispute between Canada and the United-States, Britain imposed itself as an agent in the first decade of the 20th century, and granted the territories in question on the West-Coast to the United-States arguably as a bribe to open their nation to more trade with the British. This led to Canadian nationalism thriving and even pushing English Canadians towards accept a severance of ties between Britain and the colony. Only during the First World War, did we see a greater demand for more political rights from the rest of the Provinces. Lower Canada (Quebec) reluctantly joined the fray, and fought vigorously alongside their English counterparts. Stories of the atrocities committed by Canadian troops against the Germans during the war are too dismal to describe.[18] The Germans were perhaps the first to use gas, but the Canadians were not far behind. The German feared no man more than the belligerent Canadian. For the first time, the French Canadian had earned some respect from Ottawa.

Thus, out of war sprung up a popular desire for independence from British intervention. The separatist movement was born of fascism and a love for our volk and identity. We hold a deeply rooted understanding that Canada was French in spirit. The father of Québec Separatism, Lionel-Adolphe Groulx, understood this well: "the word race takes on here its most rigorous meaning. It explains nothing less than the personality as is, characterized by an ethnic group which is ours alone. We constitute ourselves as a variety of the French family. We are distinct, not only by country, political allegiance, history and traditions which are our own, but also the moral and physical characteristics which are fixed and transmitted by life itself, since the end of the 17th century. It is this particular nationalism which our story foretells which holds our destiny still undetermined." [19]

One only has to look at the titles of Lionel Groulx' works to understand the emotions and passions behind his beliefs: "La Naissance d'une Race" or the Birth of a Race, "Une Croisade d'Adolescents" or the Crusade for Adolescents, and "L'Appel de la Race" or The Call of the Race. Indeed, this fascism brought about a most unique form in North America: Ultramontanism - a Catholic and right-wing ideology which put the Catholic Church above all else, except perhaps for nation. There's no question that there was an influence of fascism in the 1920s and 1930s on Quebec separatism. Quebecers voted 72% against the conscription for the Second World War[20] while the rest of Canada voted in reverse. Pierre-Elliott Trudeau, future Prime Minister and father of current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was a supporter of Jeune Canada[21], an ultra-conservative movement of Lionel Groulx which greatly influenced modern media in Québec (Le Devoir and La Presse). The group had written effectively antisemitic materials, criticizing them particularly for their control of industry and finance.[22] The journal Le Devoir means the duty (of citizens) and they spoke honestly about the Jews very frequently back in the 1920s-1940s. Jean-Francois Nadeau, General Director of Le Devoir, had written in 1938: “we have already accepted thousands of Russians and Central Europeans. Why should we take the surpluses of Nazi Germany” in reference to the Jews.[23] The Catholic schools and clergy, with the aid of Italian influence, were well aware of what was happening in Europe at the advent of the Second World War. If ever you are in Montreal, I recommend you visit the fresco of a certain hero in the Church Église Notre-Dame-de-la-Défense in Little Italy in Montreal. 

Even the Mayor of Montréal at the time, Camilien Houde, was arrested in 1940 for encouraging men to skip the draft and for espousing pro-axis remarks. Upon his arrest, nobody knew where the mayor had disappeared to for four whole years until his release, where he was met with 50,000 citizens on the streets of his city.[24] He was re-elected in 1944.

In the 2nd half of this article, we will discuss the fascist movement in Québec, how it differed from Separatism and how Separatism in Québec changed over the course of history after the war. To be continued…

[1] Chartrand, René (2000). Ticonderoga 1758: Montcalm's Victory Against All Odds. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-093-5.

[2] https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/idees/31263/le-fin-mot-de-l-histoire-par-la-bouche-de-mes-canons-louis-de-buade-comte-de-frontenac-et-de-palluau

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pubnico_(village),_Nova_Scotia

[4] http://www.museeacadien.ca/english/archives/articles/75.htm

[5] Arsenault, Bona (2004). Histoire des Acadiens. Fides. ISBN 978-2-7621-2613-6.

[6] https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/journalism

[7] L.O. David (1925). Les Patriotes (4e édition). Page 6. Librairie Beauchemin Limitée.

[8] Groulx, Lionel (1935). La Naissance d’une Race.

[9] Roy was the original writing of the modern word Roi, or King in French. These young ladies were volunteers who, once upon their arrival in the colony, were given the right to choose their husband.

[10] Groulx, Lionel (1935). La Naissance d’une Race.

[11] https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histoire_du_fran%C3%A7ais_qu%C3%A9b%C3%A9cois

[12] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic_history_of_Quebec

[13] Groulx, Lionel (1935). La Naissance d’une Race.

[14] https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histoire_du_fran%C3%A7ais_qu%C3%A9b%C3%A9cois

[15] Greer, Allan (1995). "1837–38: Rebellion Reconsidered". Canadian Historical Review76(1): 9.

[16] Groulx, Lionel (1935). La Naissance d’une Race.

[17] https://opentextbc.ca/preconfederation/chapter/10-2-demographics/

[18] https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/the-forgotten-ferocity-of-canadas-soldiers-in-the-great-war

[19] Groulx, Lionel (1935). La Naissance d’une Race.

[20] Nohlen, D (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume I, p127 ISBN 978-0-19-928357-6

[21] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeune-Canada

[22] http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/QuebecHistory/docs/1930s/LionelGroulx-PoliticiensetJuifs-LesJeuneCanada-HistoireduQuebec.htm

[23] https://www.ledevoir.com/lire/426517/le-devoir-et-les-juifs

[24] "Houde say term threat to French". Montreal Gazette. 6 December 1944. Retrieved 19 March 2013.

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