From the Translating the Printemps Érable Collective: « Another reason to be outraged » (from Journal Métro)

Note: This is so good, and so important, that I am reposting it, with permission of course.

Here is a Journal Métro‘s  reader’s letter for June 1, 2012, translated into English.

Original French reader’s letter:

The letter is reacting to « Un printemps québécois «pure laine»? ». {Note from fem_progress: The readers’ comments under the article are also interesting. Most of them if not all are saying the article and Thériault’s analysis are BS. I think some people are trying hard to make us believe Québécois whose ancestors do not go back
10 generations here are not accepted. Québec has changed a lot since I was young, and I am quite happy about that. Most schools welcome kids from all kinds of horizons. That breeds integration.}

In response to Catherine Girard’s article published on Tuesday, “A ‘pure laine’ québécois spring?” [Translator’s note: “pure laine” means literally pure wool and is an expression referring to citizens who are of original French-Canadian ancestry.]

Unfortunately, it’s just like déjà vu…Once again, the non-“de souche” [Translator’s note: like pure laine, de souche, meaning old stock, refers to people who are French-speaking and {whose ancestors} have lived here for many generations] must justify their existence and defend themselves against the “pure laine” prejudices.

Let’s be honest, the gratuitous and unfounded comments made by sociologist Joseph Yvon Thériault, who alleges that the current Québécois protest movement is mainly de souche, only reinforces the fascist cause in Quebec. Himself belonging to the pure laine majority, he could have thought twice before speaking up about minorities, whom he clearly demonstrated to know nothing about.

Firstly, his intervention (which, for some reason has earned him a soapbox) has the result of making the allophones and anglophones who actively participate in the current movement invisible, but also has the effect of erasing the work of the activists who belong to groups (such as CUTV) who have worked alongside other Quebeckers for many years, laying the groundwork for the current revolt. It should be noted that it is in these so-called minority milieus that the most elaborate form of anti-racist and anti-colonialist analysis can be found, one which the most engaged students associations have adopted (also note that these associations have been founded on solidarity… what a concept!). And the police officers who expound racial slurs and pose racist gestures against protesters, are they hallucinating?

Secondly, his commentary exposes the unhealthy dynamic here in Quebec that makes it acceptable that citizens who are considered second-tier (a portion of whom have witnessed atrocities no Quebecker will ever see) must justify themselves on top of battling daily and systemic racism. This “well-intentioned racism” is the self-proclaimed progressive pure laine’s blind spot, that only reproduces the dominant system’s power relations. Would quoting a male public figure (Amir Khadir, the good immigrant) be simply a coincidence? Moreover, do you think that Amir Khadir gets out of bed just to express himself on behalf of his cultural minority?

Asking this question makes obvious the extent to which Québec’s debate on interculturalism is retrograde. It is even more insulting when a large number of people who use public transit (while reading this paper) are themselves members of cultural minorities. Do not believe that the present movement is uniform and homogeneous. Otherwise, you will be surprised by our demands and by the way we perceive the future of our society.

Have you heard the casseroles in Parc-Extension, in Côte-des-Neiges, around Concordia? Wake up!

Letter signed by: Sophie Le-Phat Ho, Kevin Lo, Faiz Abhuani, Amber Berson, Dominique Desjardins, Gwenaëlle Denis, Farha Najah

Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.

*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.


KUDOS FOR YOUR WORK. Appeared originally here

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