An American in Québec City
There was a time when we also might have created a great French nation in the American wilds, to counterbalance the influence of the English on the destinies of the New World.
Alexis de Tocqueville
Vermont by political extension is a part of the province of Québec. Therefore, even though I am an American living in Vermont, when I travel to Québec City, I always feel that I am a part of New France. When I say new “New France”, I am not only referring to the ancient period, when New France was in a life and death struggle with British imperialism during the Seven Years War, but I am also referring to continuous struggle of French Canada in its ultimate quest for Self-Determination and Independence from Canada.
As I am Mexican American who comes from a colonized people, I can relate to the Quebecois’ in their need to live according to their language, culture and social customs that is inherently theirs by historical consciousness and historical fortitude in living in North America through much adversity. When I am in Québec City, one senses in the French Canadian peoples, as some call these great people, their hard working ethic, their quiet mannerism, as well as their joie de vie, when you see them on the streets, in their grocery stores, in the cafes or as they walk along the frozen and snowy streets in December in Québec City.
Regardless of whether they live in the walled city, or in the Lower Quarter of Québec City on Rue Saint-Joseph, you will see that their behavior as Quebecois proletariat or bourgeois Quebecois a kind of quiet, but wistful yearning to not only have their own lives as a people, but also to move out of their political confinement. It is a subtle thing with them, not unlike the Mexican Americans who live similar lives in New Mexico and parts of Texas, although in California, the Mexican Americans are more politically brilliant in their spontaneous uprisings against American imperialism and the negative aspects of Anglo-American culture.
There is a culture of identity between the Quebecois’ of Québec and the Mexican Americans who are colonized in the United States. Both of these peoples of North America have one certain thing in common besides being of Latin origins, and that is they are both in colonial bondage, and both people are in a historical ongoing struggle to set themselves from Anglo-American and Anglo-British oppression, not only in its most overt form but in the insidious forms of cultural and social oppression as well. But it should be noted that there are thousands upon thousands of Anglo-Americans and Anglo—Canadians who sympathize with these two cultures, when the need arises. As is always the case, the struggles for emancipation in whatever form is never black and white, but a complex political gray. When I am in Quebec City, I sense I am at home, and as British friend of mine wrote about that feeling “And home is that place where sleeps my soul,
Where my internal life began and conscience awoke. Buildings and beautiful vistas became my teachers, Strangers in the streets my friends.” We should also note that the Quebecois’ are not without their historical complexity, and as an astute blogger wrote “Believing that nothing remained of the French presence in America, Tocqueville was agreeably surprised to discover in Lower Canada a ‘race forte’, largely French, peaceful, agricultural, prosperous, hospitable, whose customs were well-established, not excessively religious and with a strong sense of their heritage. He recognized that the difference between the French Canadians and the British lay in their different values.
If the ‘race canadienne’ appeared somewhat ignorant to him compared to the Americans, for Tocqueville they seemed ‘supérieure quant aux qualités du cœur’. He appreciated that although French Canadians rejected the utilitarianism and mercantile spirit evident in Anglo-American values they were influenced by the egalitarianism of American democracy.”[i] We must recognize that the French Canadians who live in Quebec Provence are similar to the Mexican Americans, who are also a colonized people and live in the Southwest and California regions of the United States. Both of these two colonized peoples are not only a "race forte" but two cultures that will historically play a grand part in the struggle for emancipation from colonial oppression in the twenty-first century.