(doing this on hotel internet. laptop is on the fritz.)
Today we visited Quebec Musee de la Civilization. Toured 3 of the exhibition areas that seemed to focus on response to change and forms of gentle protest.
One looked at the province’s Quiet Revolution. English subjugation in 1759 was a critical point. The famous Battle on the Plains of Abraham. Revolts came for representation by population and cultural integrity (1837-1839). A gentler form of co-existence in the pre-Confederation jurisdictions of Upper and Lower Canada (Baldwin and LaFontaine being the architects). Then the new Nation in part in 1867.
A residual feudal and Catholic Society faced assimilation; fought in 2 World Wars considered matters for English under their Monarch by many; launched the Separatist movement of the sixties and years following. The Parti Quebecois would attempt to lead the way (Levesque, Parizeau and Marois). The province was split on issues of national harmony and co-existence or outright separation. Referendum votes narrowly said No to a departure. The momentum of the PQ diminished. A province maturely assessed the gains from the largely non-violent process (women’s issues, moderating of Church strictures, larger educational opportunities for a new generation, respectful approach to new immigrants entering the mix)
All formed for me a better balanced view of moderation freed from the rhetoric of anti-separatism.
Two was a film exhibit en ronde entitled Uprisings Times 25. It looked at recent expressions of protest in places such as Quebec (feminism) and Seattle (anti WTO) and Montreal (students’ rights and costs) and Tehran (anti-fundamentalism). There were 25 such venues of pro-active expression each equipped with little sit-down theatres (bi-lingual of course). Also features on Athens, South Africa, Scandinavia, Amsterdam and New York among others.
Three addressed aboriginal development and the balancing of traditional band controls with ways of the West. This one truly got my motor going. Lots of native art and craftmanship. Hemisphere screens showing the beautiful landscapes and harmony with the wilderness. Also film booths on different tribal groups and their delicate modernization. The tragedies of federal assimilation, cultural suppression, heavy-handed if not abusive residential schools and displacement of children. All very maturely and courteously examined.
Hilary and I knew that it took the particular brilliance and sensitivity of the Quebec peoples to engineer this beautiful and important place.