Saint-Jean hangover

Saint-Jean celebrations in Montréal were kind of damp this year. Even though I live at walking distance from Parc Maisonneuve, I skipped the big event. Despite the weather, The Gazette reports that attendance at the parade and the show was still respectable, 50,000 instead of the usual 200,000.

I opted for the drier floor of a movie theater and saw the film Gerry, the very touching tale of Québécois rocker Gerry Boulet. My wife and I were flabbergasted my Mario St-Amant's [Google translation] performance (he personifies the singer). My thirteen years old son loved it... which tells me this movie will appeal to the mainstream.

Back at home, I watched the end of the Parc Maisonneuve concert on Radio-Canada. Veteran Robert Charlebois was his usual self. Rufus and Martha Wainwright did a medley of their mother's former duo. I can only assume many saw them as the token Anglos of the evening. Still, they were welcome.

I've written about June 24 before, explaining the difference between Saint-Jean and Fête nationale and how patron saints aren't equal in the Canadian psyche. Despite the fact that Saint-Jean-Baptiste is the patron saint of all French Canadians, like Saint-Patrick for the Irish, national media tend to oversee the holiday.

This morning, I wondered about celebrations outside Québec. I found some festivities were carried out in Squamish, British Columbia and in the Battlefords, Saskatchewan. I hope they had nicer weather than we did.


Shiva-ji said...
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Michel Bolduc said...

Actually, it is the holiday that other provinces take on the first Monday of August. Québec simply takes it on June 24th. In short, it is a national holiday, but each province gives it its own meaning.

Thanks for the link... from what I can see, the Québécois were rather welcoming, several even saying that French Canadians from other provinces would be most welcome in an independent Québec. Having mixed with several French Canadians from other provinces, I'm actually fairly familiar with the sentiment they have toward Québec. It's very similar to that of any other minority facing the hegemony of another group. Many Canadians find it frustrating that English Canadians artists are associated indifferently to Americans. It's the same for French Canadians who see their flag bearers being absorbed by the Québécois cultural industry. For example, Damien Robitaille took part in the concert Friday; I doubt many know that he's Franco-Ontarian.... or perhaps a Québécois of Franco-Ontarian origin.

As for the Québécois nation vs. the French Canadian nation... three assizes took place in the late 60s regarding the state of French Canada. Main resolutions stated that:

1) French Canadians constitute a nation.
2) Quebec constitutes the national territory and fundamental political milieu of this nation.
3) The French-Canadian nation has the right to self-determination and to freely choose the political regime under which she intends to live.

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