Ethnic Groups, French Canadians
Bloc Quebecois, Parti Quebecois, French Canadian culture, Quebec province, separatist movement
Four-fifths of French Canadians live in Quebec province. Many, if not most, of them regard Quebec as the center of their society and culture, and their effort to preserve it has led to a movement of French Canadian nationalism that has taken several forms. Surrounded by an English-speaking society and living in an economy dominated by an English-speaking elite, the Quebecois (French-speaking residents of Quebec) made a concerted effort beginning in 1960 to increase their control of Quebec affairs. A nationalist provincial government revamped the educational system, provided aid to small businesses, and took control of some industries, all with the objective of increasing Quebecois’ control of the economy. Many nationalists have gone further: Some support a separatist movement that seeks independence for the province; others advocate a more moderate alternative, keeping Quebec in Canada but giving it more powers than the other provinces. The English-speaking minority in Quebec is opposed to its separation from Canada. The other provinces also oppose it and are not much more sympathetic to the more moderate alternative.
Both the Parti Quebecois, the party elected in 1993 to govern Quebec, and the Bloc Quebecois, the party elected the same year to represent it in Canada’s Parliament, are officially dedicated to separation. This situation has intensified the historical mistrust between French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians, a legacy from the time when English speakers identified Canada with their own interests. Emphasis on French Canadian culture and aspirations has also damaged the Quebecois’ relations with other minorities in the province. Among these are indigenous peoples, who have lately begun to assert their own rights. One Cree leader has stated that if Quebec secedes from Canada, the Cree will secede from Quebec.
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