There seems to be a real division and misunderstanding when it comes to understanding the differences between Franco-Quebecers and Anglo-Quebecers. I writing this in an attempt to explain how I feel, and how many others (I assume) feel about their situation living in La belle province. In my explanation I will try to be as simplistic as possible in conveying my feelings on the subject.
I was born in Montreal, Quebec and lived here all my life. In the city where I grew up in, (Ville St Laurent) there was wide range of ethnic groups: Italians, Greeks, Armenians, Chinese and French Canadians. I went to an English elementary school and got along quite well with everyone in the neighborhood. Of course, we would playfully rib each other during street hockey games but it never seemed absurd or unnatural. We always got along.
One of my favorite shows before my first year of kindergarten was Passe Partout. I loved that show as did many of my friends. As an emerging Montreal Canadiens fan, some of my favorite players were Francophone, Claude Lemieux, Guy Carbonneau, and of course, Patrick Roy. Who did not want to be like Patrick Roy? As kids, we would all want to be the goalie on our team and tried to emulate his moves. For us, he was a hero and living legend. We did not care what language he spoke. When Les Canadiens won the stanley cup in 1986, we all hugged each other in the streets and we were ONE. It did not matter what language you spoke, we were all Montrealers that day.
During those earlier years, my family and I would take trips to la “cabane a sucre” and this became a yearly tradition. We never called it the sugar shack. Also, we never played rock, paper scissors, it was always “roches papier ciseaux.” We went to buy candy at the “dep” (short for dépanneur) and never did we call it the 7/11 or convenience store. As kids we were scolded for using the words like “tabarnak” and “calisse,” because believe it or not, we anglos use these words as well.
The Montreal Expos were “Nos amours” not our love. And I was probably not alone when I used to switch the TV dial in hopes of hearing Roger Brulotte calling out the games in French. “Bonsoirrrrrr elleeeee est partieeeeeee!!!” And even as Anglos we rooted for Denis Boucher and felt emotional when he got a standing ovation at the Big O.
In our late teens and early 20’s many of us hung out in francophone night clubs, pool halls and bars, and many of us had francophone girlfriends/boyfriends. A few of us even got married to one. Some of us left this city, but many of us stayed. We are Canadians of course, but there is no denying that we are also Québecois. We love our province and like it or not, even as anglos, we are distinct as well.
Our English is different from the rest of Canada, we say “gallery” instead of balcony, “guichet” instead of ATM, “Metro” instead of Subway. We “close” the TV (not shut off the tv), we “take” a decision (not make one), we “pass” the vacuum and we eat our pizza “all dressed” (not deluxe).
As much as I hate the politics or occasional discrimination I may feel as an Anglophone, after spending time away from this province, I always feel at home when I come back.
To the people who think that we do not belong, I have this to say to you: We stay here because we love it. We are here because we are different from the rest of Canada, if we did not feel this way, we would have moved out of Quebec a long time ago, but we are still here. We love the culture, we love the language and we love being part of a French province that is unique in North America.
Anglophones in Quebec in no way threaten your culture, in fact we would stand right by your side to protect the French language here if we knew for a fact it was in a serious decline. What hurts us are the laws created that make us feel like we do not belong, that we are strangers in our own home... We are your brothers and sisters, this is our home as well. We have had generations work their whole lives to give everything they have to Quebec.
Yes, we are Canadians, but we will always be Québecois and no one can deny that.