CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 2 . . . . September 9, 2011
When Quebec talks about sovereignty and independence, little is said about those French Canadians who live outside Quebec. Does Quebec know that there is a thriving French culture outside the province? Filmmaker Andréanne Germain, a Franco Ontarienne puts this question to the test in her film, So, Where do We Fit In?
St. Jean Baptiste Day, 24 June, has been a day for celebration for all Franco Canadians for generations. However, renamed in 1977 as La Fête Nationale in Quebec, it has become a day to celebrate Quebec separatism and French culture.
Germain enlists two Quebecois to pose as Franco Ontariens and walk with her carrying the Franco Ontarien flag to La Fête Nationale. Her partners in this venture have never met each other nor Germain and have spent little to no time outside Quebec. She could not have found better sports. They have to assume an Ontario story, and so Germain has to help them select a home town in Ontario. Neither was able to come up with a town name without assistance. However, they are willing to play their roles.
Germain is warned not to fly the Franco Ontarien flag after 1:30 a.m. as things could get ugly. The trio parade around with the flag which causes no end of confusion. Because most people do not recognize the Ontario trillium symbol, they have no idea what it represents. A group from Ontario recognize it, but, for the most part, Germain has to explain that she is from a French culture in Ontario. This is news to many of the people she meets, but they are willing to engage in discussion and all are welcoming. She asks what will happen to the French culture if Quebec does leave Canada. One person states, "We won't not separate for you," but there is no malice in his statement.
The experiment is a learning experience for all involved. Germain expected some negativity to her flag, but received none. Her partners half expected to be beaten at some point, but their fears were groundless. They actually learned much about the Franco Ontarien experience.
So, Where Do We Fit In? is a delightful film that asks a very basic question: "What would be the status of Franco Canadians should Quebec separate?" No answers are given, but clearly, even within the French communities, there needs to be a sharing of each others' stories.
This film is a must for any French class and would work well in a Canadian History class. At 24 minutes, it could be shown in a class while still leaving time for discussion.
Frank Loreto is a teacher librarian at St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in Brampton, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.