Thursday, June 23, 2011

St. Jean Baptiste Day or la Fête nationale?

June 24 is St. Jean Baptiste Day or la Fête nationale in Québec (…hmm Canada) and I am having a Québec moment.

Hannah Brais, 20, grew up in Pointe Claire and attended St. Thomas High School and Dawson College. She was taking a course to become a welder this year when she pulled out in favour of enrolling this fall in environmental design at the Université du Québec à Montréal.

"I felt like a con artist: In Alberta I could convince anyone I was English; in Lévis, Quebec, I could convince the community that I was French; and then in Halifax, I managed to work at the Acadian radio station and the French Alliance while still participating in the English community. Never had I felt so educationally privileged, and frankly, quite so clever."

Well, I grew up a Montrealer, a Quebecer yet could never be considered Québécoise. Unlike Hannah,I could never convince any community that I blended in as a visible minority allophone (I prefer anglophone). White privilege is being confused with educationally privileged or clever like Hannah.

I once celebrated St. Jean Baptiste Day until the name changed to la Fête nationale, excluding a whole bunch of people based on language or perceived culture in the process.

SJBD or la Fête - it depends on who you are. To all Quebecers, happy long weekend. Je me souviens.