Bill 101: my reflection


Michaël Côté. I have three accents in my name and each of them point to my heritage. I am the son of two Québecois who have instilled in me a pride to be from the great underdog province of Québec. I speak French, and though English has taken over my life, I still identify as being not only francophone, but Québecois.

The recent discussions regarding Bill 101, Québec's language law, have brought forth a guilt I had never felt before.

Pauline Marois, leader of the Parti Québecois, plans on raising the sovereign flag and extending the Bill's rules to CEGEPs, Québec's junior colleges. This means that English speakers who wish to attend college in their mother tongue will have to stick to serious prerequisites. Marois announced that she supports the idea to make English colleges accessible to people whose parents have studied in a Canadian English institution.

The PQ's attempt to introduce more people the French culture falls short of being fair-play. Conservative MP Maxime Bernier is right. Québec doesn't need Bill 101 to reaffirm and maintain its national identity.

Bernier has been responding to harsh criticism after voicing his opinion on Bill 101. Though this happens very rarely, I side with the Tories.

My mother, sister and I followed my father to Kingston, Ontario. Without an ounce of knowledge of English, we slowly adapted to our new environment, the culture and the language. We continued speaking French as a family unit, choosing to maintain our mother-tongue for the sake of accomplishing something bigger: becoming bilingual.

I understand the PQ's desire to make their presence known, to showcase just how outrageously flamboyant and passionate Québecois are of their culture. What I fail to understand is why they remain scared to share with other groups. To give and take.

Gregory Baum, a Roman Catholic theologian, wrote a post about Québec nationalism. He explains that French is endangered by American culture and technology. I disagree. The French language is endangered by the bubble it is creating around itself. The fantastic traditions and iconic traits of my culture are disintegrating because Québec fears the unknown, the outside.

To make things clear, I am well aware that not all Québecois wish to separate from the rest of Canada or remain free from English influences. I simply have a hard time understanding the benefits of a language law that restricts one's choices.

Learning to speak, write and understand English was, without a doubt, the best thing that could have happened to me. It opened doors, made me discover a ton of things and has made me a more complete person.

On the other hand, being a French Canadian has done the same.

I am now the "other."