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French Canadian Nationalism

French Canadian nationalism concerns a wide variety of manifestations of the collective will of much of Canada's French-speaking population to live as a distinct cultural community. Its innumerable ramifications have been not only cultural but also political, economic and social.

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French Language in Canada

French is one of Canada’s two official languages. Although every province in Canada has people whose mother tongue is French, Québec is the only province where speakers of French are in the majority. In 2011, 7,054,975 people in Canada (21 per cent of the country’s population) had French as their mother tongue.

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Dominique Gaspard

Dominique François Gaspard, physician and community builder (born 22 December 1884 in New Orleans, Louisiana; died 6 February 1938 in Montreal, QC). Gaspard was a respected doctor and a trailblazer in Montreal’s Black district. After serving with distinction at a field hospital during the First World War, he devoted himself to medical practice in Montreal. He also worked to create social and intellectual outlets for Black men in the city. A bilingual Catholic, he was unique in the city’s early-20th-century anglophone  Protestant Black community. His story speaks of a complexity of language, ethnicity and migration not often explored in narratives of Quebec’s English-speaking and Black communities.

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Louis Riel

Louis Riel, Métis leader, founder of Manitoba, central figure in the Red River and North-West resistances (born 22 October 1844 in Saint-BonifaceRed River Settlement; died 16 November 1885 in ReginaSK). Riel led two popular Métis governments, was central in bringing Manitoba into Confederation, and was executed for high treason for his role in the 1885 resistance to Canadian encroachment on Métis lands. Riel was initially dismissed as a rebel by Canadian historians, although many now sympathize with Riel as a Métis leader who fought to protect his people from the Canadian government.

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Ferdinand Larose

Ferdinand Alphonse Fortunat Larose, agronomist (born 1 April 1888 in Sarsfield, Ontario; died 29 January 1955 in Montreal, Quebec). Throughout his career, Ferdinand Larose focused on agriculture in the United Counties of Prescott and Russel in Eastern Ontario. He is best known for having created the vast Larose Forest in a part of the counties which had become arid after intensive deforestation in the 19th century. The agronomist was also a leader for Franco-Ontarian cultivators. He chaired several cultivator associations and promoted agricultural training for Franco-Ontarians.

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Kim Thúy

Kim Thúy, CQ, writer (born 18 September 1968 in Saigon, Vietnam). The winner of several prestigious literary awards for her first novel, Ru, this Quebec writer of Vietnamese origin is known for her short and elegant stories. Her novels deal with the migrant experience and the challenges of adapting to a new culture. Written in French, which Thúy calls her “second mother tongue,” they have been translated into 15 languages.

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Culture of Acadia

Marginalized by geographic and economic factors, the Acadian regions remained culturally isolated until the middle of the 20th century. Music and folklore were the only widespread forms of artistic expression until the advent of higher education and access to the wider world.

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Frère Marie-Victorin

Frère Marie-Victorin (born Conrad Kirouac), member of the Brothers of the Christian Schoolsbotanist, teacher (born 3 April 1885 in Kingsey Falls, QC; died 15 July 1944 in St-Hyacinthe, QC). A self-taught botanist, Frère Marie-Victorin was the first chair of botany at Université de Montréal, founder of the Institut de Botanique and the Montréal Botanical Garden, and author of Flore laurentienne (1935). He also co-founded the Association canadienne-française pour l'avancement des sciences, the Société canadienne d'histoire naturelle, and the Cercles des jeunes naturalistes, and actively promoted science in popular as well as academic publications. A French Canadian nationalist, Marie-Victorin believed that knowledge of Québec’s natural world would inspire pride in French Canadians and enable them to take possession of their land.

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Rosaire Morin

Rosaire Morin, CQ, author and militant nationalist (born 2 September 1922 in St-Honoré de Témiscouata, QC; died 14 April 1999 in Montréal, QC). Editor-in-chief of L’Action nationale, Rosaire Morin was involved in the Québec nationalist movement throughout his life.

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Marie Gérin-Lajoie

Marie Gérin-Lajoie (née Lacoste) author, educator, social activist, founder of the Fédération nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste (born 19 October 1867 in Montréal, QC; died 1 November 1945 in Montréal). From her family base in Montréal’s Catholic francophone elite, Gérin-Lajoie advocated for improvements in women’s status, including the right to vote. (See also Catholicism in Canada.) Through her writings and public lectures, she tried to ensure that all Quebec women would understand their rights and duties as defined in what she called the droit usuel: the law of daily life.

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Front de libération du Québec (FLQ)

The Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) was a militant Quebec independence movement that used terrorism to try and achieve an independent and socialist Quebec. FLQ members — or felquistes — were responsible for more than 200 bombings and dozens of robberies between 1963 and 1970 that left six people dead. Their actions culminated in the kidnapping of British trade commissioner James Cross and the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte, in what became known as the October Crisis.

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Paul Bruchési

Louis-Joseph-Paul-Napoléon Bruchési, Roman Catholic priest and Archbishop of Montréal from 1897 to 1939 (born 29 October 1855 in Montréal, Québec; died 20 September 1939 in Montréal). Paul Bruchési actively supported the Church’s involvement in education, health and welfare, and helped secure the establishment of many of the city’s leading institutions in these fields. He was also engaged in many public issues of the day, often taking a congenial approach with politicians and fellow prelates. In 1919, he began to suffer from a mysterious illness which by 1921, left him largely debilitated until his death in 1939.

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Ontario Schools Question

The Ontario schools question was the first major schools issue to focus on language rather than religion. In Ontario, French or French-language education remained a contentious issue for nearly a century, from 1890 to 1980, with English-speaking Catholics and Protestants aligned against French-speaking Catholics.

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Francophonie and Canada

The term francophonie has been in common use since the 1960s. It has several meanings. In its most general sense, it refers to all peoples and communities anywhere in the world that have French as their mother tongue or customary language. The term can also refer to the wider, more complex network of government agencies and non-government organizations that work to establish, maintain and strengthen the special ties among French-speaking people throughout the world. Lastly, the expression “La Francophonie” is increasingly used as shorthand for the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (International Organisation of La Francophonie).