History Of Language Culture And Identity History Essay
Language has been the symbol of identity and way of expression of societies from their start and today no other issue is more threatening for Canada than the issue of social harmony and language as Quebec province is at the edge of independence just because of language. They say that they are a different nation having different roots and social and linguistic backgrounds. Quebecers are the majority of the Quebec population that has been struggling for the survival of French as they are the French-Canadians. They have been accepted as nation within a nation but still they have fear about their survival having a separate identity. This study is about the study of Quebec by touching the linguistic and social dimensions in detail and giving a background comprised of the history, facts, politics and immigration system.
The Canadian province that has majority of French speakers is known as Quebec or French-Canadians and they are opposite to the rest of the population which is mainly comprised of English speaking population.
Quebecers have their family roots from the French colonizers where as the rest of the inhabitants of Canada have their third generation living in Canada. Due to this the issue of language and identity had been taken under consideration in 1960s.
Francophone is the name which means those French colonists who had been living in Canada from the period between 17th and 18th century. They were affected adversely by many factors like the continuous decrease in fertility rate in women along with economic debts and English immigrants. The struggle of the Quebecers was fruitful when French was given the status of the second official language and they were later considered as a nation in a nation. The Quebecers also made it possible to have the Bill passed that was based on racism and stated that English can only be spoken and used in Quebec according to the will of the French Canadians. The referendum took place twice, in 1980 and 1995 but they rejected to be separated.
A lot of Francophone demanded to have independence from Canada but this will not be feasible according to the national and global scenario. USA s monitoring the situation as t shares its borders with Quebec. The best possible solution to the problems up till now is in the shape of referendum with precautionary measures that any conflict raising situation should be avoided.
Québec Territory 5
Identity and Quebec 6
Québec Society and language 7
Challenges for Quebec 8
Future insight 8
Internal Pressures 9
External Circumstances 9
Future of Quebec and their possible solution 9
Quebec versus Basques 10
My area 11
Discussion (Evaluation) and Conclusion 11
THECANADIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA (2010). Québec, [Elektronic]. Available: 11
Thecanadianencyclopedia(2011), Québec, [Elektronic].Available: 12
Faqs.org (2011), French Canadians, [Elektronic].Available: 12
Sympatico (2011). A Brief History of Canada, [Elektronic].Available: 12
The project paper is about the issue of language and identity in the case of Quebec. It is the province of Canada that has the majority of French speakers and they are demanding to have sovereignty. The inhabitants of the province are called the French-Canadian. The behaviour of the Quebecers show the language and identity are the bases for any group of people or any province to claim itself as a nation. The quiet revolution by the Quebecers form 1960s till now is the reflection of the intentions of the people when there are clashes which have their roots in the origin of nay group and its history.
The first part of the paper project discusses the facts and the background of the present situation. The second part reflects the dimensions of the pressures and clashes and the situation that is being apparent at present, the third part is about the similarities and differences between Quebec and Basques. Furthermore, the description of the country where i live, which is Pakistan has to be discussed under the theme of the study carried out to have a comparison between the focus of the study and the home country of the writer. The discussion and conclusion are at the end before the references.
The factors that are discussed are the economic, social and ethnic differences and the situations which arise slowly and gradually as history advances. The birth rate, proportion of French and English speakers, family roots, immigration systems and its effect on the proportion of the French-Canadians at Quebec were the subjects under the main headings as these describe whole scenario of the study.
The result of the study was that it would be hard for Quebec to have independence and be economically stable and have social harmony. It will create tension in the neighbouring countries and it was advised at the end that English as it is the global language, will not create any harm and its study can’t be avoided due to its influence in communication mediums and trade.
It is located at the central east of Canada and is the only province which has given the status to French as provincial language and is one of the most thickly populated provinces with regards to French speakers. It is the largest province of Canada and shares borders with New Brunswick , Newfoundland and Ontario. It is notable that the British Privy Council attributed Labrador to the Newfoundland in 1927, an area that comprises of 6% of the total population which includes the European immigrant’s generations along with other groups. The combined area of France, Germany and Spain is equal to Québec. It covers 15.5% of the land of Canada. Mathematically, it is about 1.5 million km2. The four American states are neighboured namely New York., Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.
The strategic position of this province is evident from its geographic location, having land connections with other parts of the country and USA. This makes it important for having trade within Canada and diplomatic relations along with trade with USA (one of the super power of the world).
The territory of Québec in the present world has become equal to New France with respect to area because its original boundaries were altered on the basis of the fallowing regulations and acts:
ROYAL PROCLAMATION OF 1763
QUEBEC ACTHYPERLINK "http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006592" of 1774
CONSTITUTIONAL ACT, 1791
BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT of 1867
Three main geographical areas are the basis of the landscape of Québec which are the St Lawrence River valley, the Canadian SHIELD and the Appalachian region. The valley is fertile and most of the Québec inhabitants are settled here. The Canadian SHIELD is composed of forests and lakes. The Appalachian region is the chain of mountain. Québec is famous for its lakes. It is notable that the French colonists lived in the St Lawrence River valley. The other name for it is St Lawrence Lowlands region (see, THECANADIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA 2010).
Historically, before 1763, the French North America was spread over Lawrence River valley, Great Lakes region and territories around Missouri and Mississippi rivers. In 1713, James Bay and the northern part of Québec were under the British rule but the situation was opposite in 1760’s, the time of the conquest.
Identity and Quebec
Québec was referred to the Québec city till 1763 before the Royal Proclamation. The inspiration of the name was extracted from the sense of the word presented by the Algonquian’s which meant the location where the river narrow down. The broad sense of the word Québec was not firstly given by the French surprisingly but they were the British (see, THECANADIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA 2010).
The people living in the province in Quebec who were known as Québécois are now called French Canadian or Quebecers to reflect their identity and cultural. The survey on the ethnic diversity in 2001 depicted that most of the French speaking population of Quebec told themselves at French Canadians (Grofman, B. 2003). The protection of the French language and Quebecer’s identity was the basis of the nationalist movement. The revolution known in history as the Quiet Revolution occurred in 1960 when a dire need was felt to protect the French Canadian language, culture and identity. Presently, the identity of Quebec French speaking population has its roots in the social and democratic concept of encouraging the French language in arts, education and businesses (Bélanger, Claude 2000).
Jantzen (2005) categorised the population of Canada in to two groups. First the English Canadian whose generations were resided there and secondly, the French Canadian, who are the ancestors or their family roots originated from the French nation. Till 1960, Canada had only one official language and that was English. The long struggle of the inhabitants of Quebec resulted in the form of French as the second official language of Canada. The masculine and feminine by the Quebecers were generally pronounced as Québécois and Québécoise . This was to represent their separate identity and language.
The Francophone group that does not possess the French-Canadian origin are not identified as French Canadian and they are called known as Québécois. They support the separate identity and sovereignty but are discriminated by the people who have French-Canadian origin. The only reason behind this is the strong social and linguistic bond of the Quebeckers which has solid political and historical base and live in Quebec. This situation has given the position to Québécois a very controversial and debatable position in the society. Hence, the meaning of Québécois has become indefinite (James, C.E. & Shadd, A.L 2001). The lineage investigating capability of the English-Canadian people is weak as compared to the French-Canadian. They can trace their roots back to the French colonizers. Therefore, the identity of the English-Canadians is not strong and only half of the third generation can identify themselves on form bases. The results of one survey were that 80% of the Canadians who had been living in Canada for the last three generations were only able to identify their regional, provincial or ethnic identities (Quebec 2010).
Québec Society and language
The Natives were the primary inhabitants. There are three main categories of people presently living in Québec according to the language or linguistic perspective. They are:
The dominant nation of Europe was France during the French colonial period with the population between 20 to 25 million people during the 18th century. The British had, in comparison, 7 million at that time. The 18th century was the period when the clash between the colonial powers namely British and France had impact the global level in all continents. The British, unlike the French, established a system of colonies at international level(see, THECANADIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA 2010).
The religious minorities in Europe had intentions in late 17th century to migrate and establish societies in accordance to their beliefs. The church refused and opposed this decision and it gave a setback to the population of two areas mainly which are namely as New France and New England.
There were only 15 000 people living in New France between the period of 1608 to 1713. New England had 400 000 and about 2 million in 1715 and 1763 but during the same period, the New French population growth was from 15000 to 70000 only. The significant growth started under the English rule after the period of 1763. From 70000, the figure increased to 100000 up till 1784. In late eighties, the population was around one million. In 1996, the number of French speaking Canadians in Quebec reached 6 million. Meanwhile, in the period between 1840 and 1930, one million Canadians migrated to America for the purpose of jobs and they are known as the Franco-American’s.
The French settled in Quebec in a novel way that is known in history as the seigneurial system. Under this system, the housing was structured to have as sense of community by making them very near to each other. Some argue on this system that it was a hurdle for the urbanization and others say that it promoted, both parties had their reasons for defence. This system finally came to the ground in 1854.
In 19th century, the North American region experienced the immigration trend of the Québécois despite the opposition from the religious role models like the church. The urban population of Quebec was 52% in just two decades, from 1871 to 1921. This rate was at that time above the Canadian average. In the 20th century, the urban population of Quebec is 80.4% which means that it is the 3rd highest in Canada (ibid.).
Challenges for Quebec
McWhinney (1979) reflected in his work that the nationalistic movement by the Quebecers’ for the protection of their identity was on its peak in the period of 1960s. Language was one of the major reasons as the French-Canadians wanted the Canadian society to embrace the importance as a whole. The source of the movement of nationalism had several root causes which resulted in radical changes and alterations in the language of policies of Quebec along with the agenda of sovereignty. One of the factors that diverted the attention of the Quebecers to their survival was sharp decline in the fertility among the women in Quebec. Consideration was given to this issue. The period of quiet revolution which spread over 1960 to 1966 experienced the decrease it the rate of fertility.
According to the statistics, the birth rate was 4.2 children from 1000 married women during the period of 1951 to 1961. It decline to 2.3 children from 1000 married women in the period between 1966 to 1971 which made this figure to be one of the lowest in the overall child birth rates in 1990s in Canada(Joy 1992). Chevrier (1997) depicted about the situation of fertility rate in Quebec that from 1986 to 1991, it was only 1.5 form 1000 women.
The proportion of the people who spoke French was 7.2% and then in 199, it dropped to 5%.
Chevrier (2003) showed that the considerable decrease in the fertility and the immigration system has decreased the proportion of Canadian population with regards to the Quebecers form 27.7% in 1931 to 24.1 in 2001.
The second most influencing reason of the language reforms in Quebec was the immigration that gave birth to the fear that French could become rare in Quebec and Canada (Esman, 1985). The reason behind this was that most of the immigrants sent their children to English language schools and according to the survey, around 80% of the immigrants were doing this in the 1960s (Gagnon, 1997).
The legislation regarding the language policy had its base in the civil rights movement and the demand of the French speaking population to protect the survival of French.
French was given the status of an official language in 1977 but this didn’t proved to be favourable for the promotion of French. Quebec faces the social linguistic problems as low birth rate in the province and low rate of adoption of French outside the Quebec borders. The dominance of English is felt in television, internet and trade due to which the concerns of the Quebecers about French are not over although they have decreased.
The second highest indebted non-central government, according to world raking, is Quebec.
More than three billion Canadian dollars is the annual deflect of Quebec. The situation of public bureaucracy is bad even though many have reflected their intentions to be the part of the government of Quebec. Almost 50% of the debt is to be given to the investors who are not the part of the Quebec inhabitants. This will devalue the currency. The job creation rate along with the economic growth is also alarming as the unemployment rate of Quebec is 11.8% which is 2% more than the average 9.4% for overall Canada (Fry, E.H. 1996-97).
Another issue is of politics. The Quebec political parties want to have financial gains from the central government through raising the issues of language and others periodically. The rest of Canada now wants Quebec to be separated as it has passed the bill 101 which is based on racism that only allow as French in Quebec unlike Bi- Linguism in rest of Canada. The issues are politicised as it was recognized by the Canadian House of Commons that “ "Québécois as a nation within a united Canada. Every political party was strongly agreed with the suggestions and later on that bill was passed” (CTV News, 2006).
The intervention of the Canadian government on the declaration of unilateral independence by Quebec has two reasons which are:
Protection of the rights of the federally-protected minorities within the Quebec
Federal assets security
Single most vital external actor in any Québec separation situation is USA as:
Instability in its northern part can be a security threat
Intervention will be due to the internal pressure from the government or interest groups.
Future of Quebec and their possible solution
The French language and identity can only be protected according to some of the people by being separate from Canada. The centre of identity of Quebec is language and that’s why some believe that they can gain benefit by having independence.
The Political party of Canada named as `Bloc Québécois` is of the view that the denial of the Canadian government to accept Quebec as a separate society on the bases of economy, language and identity will lead to massive losses in this era of globalisation.
The political party is not in the position to demand a separate state on the basis:
The present situation can lead to a chaos having a starting point from the clash of identities which means that Canada needs a leader who can influence the nation on political and linguistic grounds. The inhabitants of Quebec have to realise that if the bases for separation are language then in this world of globalisation, they cannot keep themselves away from English. It is because:
Due to its lingua franca capability, it is known as “Globalish”
It is main source for trade, communication and media
Having knowledge of English don’t have to do anything with harming effects on the identity of any nation but the political parties shave made it an issue for their movements. The separation decision should be made on the bases of referendum because:
It needs the opinion of total nation
The comparison of the prominent ideas and beliefs
Quebec versus Basques
The inhabitants of the shores of the Bay of Biscay and on the both sides of the western Pyrenees that separate the Spanish and French States is the place called Basque Country. One of the oldest language of European languages is Basque language as its origin is still not explored. The two historical issues of the Basque people are:
The complexity and difficulty for having harmony among the natives and having consensus on an issue
Believing violence to the solution for every problem
The agenda of the Basque country and Quebec are the same. Both are struggling for the survival of their identity and language.
Before the 19th century, wars were started in this region as different powers wanted to capture this territory. The damages to the Basque culture were doe by the ruling group as they had forced others to follow them.
The issue of language and identity of Quebec is more political now as the Canadian government has given French, the status of the provincial and second official language and had also accepted the 101 Bill which makes Quebec a nation within a nation.
In contrast to this, the Basque country has been invaded and the rulers prohibited the local culture and language to be practiced and it was not given any value. Both regions had same issue of language and identity but in different circumstances.
Pakistan has Urdu as its national language and Sidhi, Pashto, Punjabi and Balochi as provincial languages. English is the official language. The provinces are identified by their languages. The identity is not sourced from language but form religion. So, the issue of Pakistan is different from Quebec. The politicians raise the issue of language just to have their vote bank filled but that is to do with power and financial support from the central government.
Discussion (Evaluation) and Conclusion
Nation is created through language through shaping the ethnic identity. Languages can make new nations, strong the current ones or break them. Emotional attachments with the identity and language make it easy for the politicians to make an issue for their campaigns. In the case of Quebec, the Canadian government did well but the politicians miss used the public power. The issue of separation isn’t as simple as this will open the door for other provinces to speak
The solution for the problems of Quebec is to have:
Referendum in Canada to have the opinion of the whole nation about the separation of Quebec.
Have precautionary measures to avoid any conflict of significant level.
The most challenging area for Quebec are Economics and social harmony that can be managed through proper study and public awareness.
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