Saturday, October 1, 2016

On Québécois Separatism

On Québécois Separatism: At the bottom of Quebec's license plates it reads "Je me souviens," which translates from French to English as "I remember." For decades, the meaning of this phrase has been debated among Canadians. The phrase dates back to the 1880s, when the architect of Quebec's provincial Parliament had it carved into the stone above the main doorway. That architect, Eugene Taché, never left an explanation of the phrase's meaning. But in the early 1900s, the phrase became adopted as Quebec's official motto. And early historians of Quebec's heritage began to reconcile the phrase with Canada's colonial past. Ever since Canada gained its independence from Britain in 1867, there had been a large constituency of French-speaking people in Quebec who resented ever being subjected to British rule. By the mid-twentieth century, however, Canadian historians started to see the phrase more as a rallying cry for the Quebec sovereignty movement. Thus, whenever the phrase "Je me souviens" gets uttered, it's a reminder for the people of Quebec to recall the days of Jacques Cartier, Samuel de Champlain, and New France. Days when French Jesuits missionized the natives while settling the St. Lawrence River. Days before Quebec became British.

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