Quebec: Mon grand péché rayonnant


“So what’s with the French thing?”: A question that has been posed to me by friends on Facebook.

True, it must seem curious. I have no television. When I absorb media it is plus 50% Quebecois media: French television, French radio, French music… and I won’t really be satisfied until my Facebook friend quotient “tips” to 50%-plus Quebecois.

Born in Ontario, having spent all of three months there, I was raised English in the French speaking province. A product of the Montreal English school system, forced into French immersion in 1976, I despised “Peppers” – as we disgracefully referred to Francophones – seeing nothing in their culture but sin and degradation. I learned French, but hated it (even though I was the winner of the French prize in high school)

Things change.

Call it guilt, self-loathing, tolerance… what you will. I think a turning point revolved around two events:

1.   Learning that Theresa’s case had been stalled for over 20 years due to prejudice and cultural ignorance:  When I scraped together enough French to be able to read the words, “the Allore girl’s death recalls the murders of Manon Dube and Louise Camirand” it was an awakening that cultural barriers had inhibited the resolution to this crime.

2.   Early in this century my father cautioned me about attempting to solve Theresa’s murder, reminding me that she was an English victim in a Francophone world; thus she would be the recipient of slow justice. I never accepted this rationale and told my father this directly, reminding him that there were two other victims who were Francophone.

Allore. It is a French name, derived from Allard. My Grandfather was fluently French and spoke very little English… until he met my Grandmother. By the time of his death he could no longer muster his mother tongue beyond ancient cultural bromides.

I feel a deep need to embrace my ancestry. It is ultimately a greater desire than the resolution of the 30-plus-year mystery of a sibling’s mysterious demise.. And I have always operated best as an outsider. I despise Canada, that’s why I live in the States. I despise being an Anglophone in Quebec (again, the self-loathing)… but increasingly I am growing intolerant being an American.  I would love to return to Quebec as the underdog. Never Pure-laine… a second class citizen who rises above disadvantage to win respect. And I am building great Quebecois friendships there… my francophone friends now out number my former associates (who were all English).

Let’s face it… if you’re going to pay attention to media (which is all crap) why not learn something in the process. I would far prefer to watch TVA and Radio-Canada, listen to bands like Les Trois Accords, Malajube, Les Cowboys than anything offered by Western culture.

I have a plan. 15 years: that is the time I need until my children leave the nest. 15 years to transform completely… to learn the language like a native, to transform back to Quebecois.

Everyone needs a goal.

I hope my former home will welcome me.


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