We are all settlers

Alain Deneault intends, in this new work, to tell the story of the birth of Canada. People, “driven” from Europe “for vagrancy, robbery or sedition, or others in the hope of improving their lot materially”, ended up here after a more or less long journey by boat. No philanthropic aim at the start. Nothing very noble, according to him. Only there was the lure of profit, the improvement of living conditions. Whether you are a simple worker, trader or politician, everyone is part of the same enterprise: extracting raw materials, transforming them, then consuming them.

For the purposes of the cause, in this case Canada, three categories of social actors have emerged: the colonizer, the colonist and the colonized. The latter is made up of those who were here before us, the First Nations, while the colonizer would be the boss, the one who commands, the one who collects the fruits of our labor, initially the great British families.

As for the settler, you, me and the others, he is made up of the more or less silent majority, the working people. The latter “no longer knows what the meaning of the fact that in Canada laws passed in London to grant it legislative independence in fits and starts deprived it of all national responsibility and that the expression” constitutional monarchy “means euphemism its unchanged colony ”.

The Canadian Settler

Deneault therefore insists on this difference between colonized and colonized. While Albert Memmi portrayed the colonized and the colonizer well in his famous work, he neglected the colonist, who is placed between the tree and the bark, one might say.

But where I no longer agree is when he puts French Canadians in the category of “sub-groups”, along with Ukrainians, South Americans, etc.

We are not a people and are just good at playing useful colony idiots. This rooting of nearly five hundred years alongside the First Nations would be illusory, would not carry any original project.

Worse, the song O Canada, whose music was written by Calixa Lavallé on a poem by Basile Routhier, “a bad joker”, according to Deneault, to celebrate the National Congress of French Canadians on June 24, 1880, would only be an “overwhelming ersatz” of the God Save The Queen !

By associating ourselves with the colonizer, Deneault makes us despoilers of territories, happy genocidaires. He ignores our history of interbreeding with our Native American brothers and the pacts and treaties signed with them.

In fact, Deneault goes back and forth between Canadians and French Canadians, without making too much distinction, which makes it difficult to understand his message. We would be the profiteers and the bosses, those who profit from the colonial system and those who command, as well as those who keep the “colonized in reserves who then inspired the South African architects of apartheid.”

Who is this “Canadian settler” he talks about?

In my own history book, there are French Canadians and English Canadians; Canadians and Québécois, two very different entities by their culture, their history, their language, their religion. I cannot be associated with this “Canadian settler [qui] celebrates its domination “over the First Nations, which would show violence, ignominy and weakness.

For Deneault, the colonial history can only be explained in connection with its commercial purposes. In this, it would be reprehensible.

Lack of nuances

Far be it from me to endorse all the evils of European colonialism, but nuances are called for.

Deneault forgets to specify that on the arrival of Jacques Cartier, in 1534, “the Indian nations of the St.Lawrence Valley were already engaged in a war of extermination which could have started at the beginning of the second millennium AD, ie circa 1200 ”(archivesdemontreal.ica-atom.org). We can also read, in the founding text of the Société de Montréal of February 27, 1642 that its “social object” was to “build to house the Amerindians, clear to feed them, establish schools to educate them and a Hôtel-Dieu for care for them “. Nice program for colonizers.

With this relentless indictment against Canada yesterday and today, however, the author forgets to distinguish the wheat from the chaff.

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