Concordia journalism professor explores Quebec nationalism in new book
Au Québec, c’est comme ça qu’on vit investigates nationalism through journalist Francine Pelletier’s experiences.
“This book tackles a very controversial subject: Québécois identity, who it includes and who it doesn’t,” Pelletier says. “My hope is that we can talk about it and air our differences. As human beings, we tend to sweep subjects under the carpet that cut too close to the bone.”
Au Québec, c’est comme ça qu’on vit investigates the evolution of nationalism, starting with the 1995 referendum, various events of the 60s and 70s, François Legault’s government and the adoption of Bill 21 and 96.
“There are many books out there on specific events – the Quiet Revolution, the two referendums, the crisis around religious symbols – events that I refer to in my book,” Pelletier says. “But there is no book that I know of that piece all those things together and asks: ‘What happened to us?”
“Since Quebec nationalism has always been a major social and political factor here, it’s not always easy to see what exactly has changed. The problem is that these changes in attitude towards immigration and religious minorities are threatening Quebec’s democratic credentials.”
The book, which has been in the making since 2018, is an extension of the documentary Pelletier wrote and directed, Battle for Quebec’s Soul, released in May 2022. Pelletier says the book is a much more personal account than the documentary.
“In the first two chapters I explain my own « identity crisis, », how as a Franco-Ontarian studying in Alberta in my early 20s, I suddenly became aware of the difficulties of remaining a full-fledged francophone in Canada,” Pelletier says.
In 1975, Pelletier came to Montreal to be a part of a vibrant, progressive city.
« It was a great time to be in Montreal, » she says. « Here, I discovered politics, feminism, journalism. There was no looking back. Until, more than a generation later, I realized looking back was precisely what was happening. »
She says this book is both her coming-of-age story and what happened in Quebec over the last 50 years.
Pelletier hopes it will encourage some vigorous debate and offer some new perspectives.
“We need to make sense of the world we live in. We need to connect the dots,” Pelletier says.
“That is what I’m trying to do with this book. I think anyone who wants to understand Québec’s trajectory, not just its history but its inner workings, will find something to chew on.”
Robin Della Corte, Concordia University News, 21 septembre 2023.
Photo: Julien Thomas
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