Québec, je pleure: Reflections

As my newspaper, the Montreal Gazette, prepares to launch a new look on four different platforms on Tuesday, I’ve been looking back at some of my blog posts there. I’m not sure yet what form my blog, Turning the Page, will have in the new setting. But it has done pretty well for itself up to now, being the third most popular blog on the site of all time, coming behind a sports blog and a news blog.

My most popular entry was a post this year, on April 10. I had no idea then that it would be received so favourably by so many Quebec sovereignists. I wrote it after the provincial election saw the governing Parti Québécois trounced by the Liberal party, and many commentators were saying that the Quebec independence movement was dead. I had been living with the sovereignty issue most of my life, and I was very saddened on April 10 by the idea that a dream was over for so many French Quebecers. I found myself crying, and I wrote the following post — free flow stream of consciousness style. It struck a chord with many, garnering almost 18,000 views along with 8,291 Facebook shares and 522 Twitter tweets. It was translated into French by some sovereignists and posted on their sites. And I heard from many of them on Twitter, who thanked me — and followed me there.

Here’s the post as it ran on April 10, and I have to tell you, I still feel the same about the issue:

Québec, je pleure

“I’m gonna dress you up like the Mother Queen
Fuck you up like you’ve never seen.”
– Serge Fiori, from Crampe au cerveau

Two days after the Quebec vote, my initial relief over the election of a federalist party has given way to sadness — and guilt. And shame.

The sovereignty dream is over, the analysts are saying, and many anglos in Quebec and across Canada are rejoicing.

But not me. I am crying inside. And outside.

Oh my God, what have we done, we  anglos?

Why did we fight so hard over the past four decades to quash the dream of our francophone sisters and brothers who only wanted a small slice of the North American pie that they could call their own?

Why couldn’t we understand their desire for a nation?

Why couldn’t we have given it to them, willingly, and shared their dream with them?

Why did we feel we had to toe the federalist line?

Why did we have to impose the American-Canadian dream on them?

Why were we so selfish?

Oh God, we were so blind. So thoughtless. So lacking in empathy and compassion . . . and love.

Am I the only anglo who feels guilty tonight?

Yes, this is about what I feel inside.

I can’t deny the feelings.

They are there.

Guilt. Sadness. Shame.

Tears.

Ce soir, je pleure avec les souverainistes québécois.

Je suis une Québécoise.

– Jillian

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