Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Quebec's Fête nationale: a Party for Everybody

Today is Quebec’s Fête nationale, what formerly was called the Fête de Saint-Jean-Baptiste. That holiday had a distinctly parochial colour, being centred on celebrating the French (and Catholic) fact in Quebec. But times have changed, and the official line is that this is a holiday for everybody who lives in Quebec and who considers him- or herself a Quebecker.

I go along with the heartily, and we even fly a Quebec flag. I’ve had arguments with Anglophone neighbors who think I’ve letting down the side, but I don’t agree. I have chosen to live here, my children were born here, this is a holiday that belongs to me too.

That sprit of inclusion will show up tonight at the big public show in Parc Maisonneuve. Normand Braithwaite, whose father came from Jamaica and who is a Francophone media star, will be emcee for the show as he has been for the last five years. The artists performing include Samian from the northern part of Quebec who raps in French and Algonquin; Musa Dieng Kala, originally from Senegal; Johanne Blouin who is what is called here une Quebecoise pure laine; and Zachary Richard, the Cajun star from Louisiana.

We won’t make it (it's across town and it doesn't start until 9:30 p.m. and we're sometimes old and cranky), but the music is going to be fabulous.

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