Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Quebecker Separatists Distorting History

Many Quebecker separatists drag a laughable bias in their interpretation of the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837-38.

Obviously, on May 19, it's hard to feel enthusiast during the Journée des Patriotes. As an event that is supposed to bring us back into our past, this celebration is anything but politically inclusive. Given that the march (that takes place during the celebration) is organized by the Jeunes Patriotes du Québec, we have the feeling that many Quebecker separatists only see that celebration as their day.

Obviously, many Quebecker separatists may be right when they mock Stephen Harper's belief that the foundation of Quebec City (1608) corresponds to Canada's (as we know it) act of birth. However, many Quebecker separatists should stop thinking that they're entitled to re-write the history of the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837-38.

Strange though it might look, this makes us think about this motto: "Do what I say (not to re-write History), but don't do what I do (re-writing History)."

After all, separatists are not done with using the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837-1838 at their own partisan advantage. Moreover, add to that their propensity to spread historical oddities (if not lies) about the previously mentioned event.

Obviously, the first lie concerns Louis-Joseph Papineau. Through the Louis-Joseph Papineau Award (only given to separatist figures), many separatists are trying to make us swallow the idea that Papineau led the fight against the British at Saint-Denis, Saint-Charles and Saint-Eustache. Of course, this is not true, because at the time of the fight, Papineau was exiled in the USA. Therefore, the person who actually led the Canadian Patriots against the British was an Anglophone named Wolfred Nelson (photo), since he was more radical than Papineau.


Still, I don't know if it's only a prejudice of mine, but it looks like many French Quebeckers would feel uncomfortable by learning that it was an Anglophone (not a Francophone) who put his pants against the British during the Rebellion. This is why I'm wondering why doesn't Nelson has a statue made after him located in front of Quebec's National Assembly. As far as we're concerned, it's about time that French Quebeckers (starting with some separatists) give the appropriate recognition that Anglophones deserve in the teaching of our History, because not all Anglophones are "villain".


Secondly, another absurdity rooted into some separatists' consciousness is their belief that the Patriotes embody the defence of the French language. Unlike many Quebecker separatists, most Patriotes were not linguistic paranoids. In fact, when Nelson (who led the fights against the British, mind you) put in place an ad interim government (during the Patriotes' short-lived victory against the British), only French AND English were recognized as Lower Canada's (today Quebec) official languages. Of course, unlike most separatists (who are culturally a bunch of spineless weaklings), most Patriotes actually had confidence that immigrants (who, at the time, were mostly Europeans) could blend (this also means getting assimilated slowly but surely) either into the French or English Canadian culture. In a nutshell, the Patriotes were advocates of a bicultural melting-pot.

Would people just stop thinking that the Rebellion is a clash between all Francophones versus all Anglophones? At the first look, the Rebellion is a clash between Canadian nationalists (Francophones and Anglophones alike) against Great Britain (and by extension those, in Canada, who supported it).

All in all, yesterday, I didn't even celebrate the Journée des Patriotes. Not that, as a History student, I'm ashamed of what the Patriotes, Francophones and some Anglophones alike, did try to get the British out. On the contrary, I don't see myself taking part to a celebration built on historical lies and meant to exclude Quebeckers who are not separatists. Of course, I could've thought about other lies that many separatists spread about the Patriotes (if not our History, in general), but since I'm not in the mood to open a textbook, I'm going to limit myself to what I wrote.

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