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Myths about Quebec’s anglos debunked

July 3rd,2024 | Opinion

Hey anglo Quebecers, ever get the feeling that our minority community is unfairly painted as an enemy of the French language in this province? That despite our best efforts to learn and use the language and embrace francophone culture, those efforts go unseen – or negated entirely?

You are not alone. Misperceptions are so prevalent that the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages was prompted to conduct a study and recently released a report called: “Building Bridges: Perceptions and realities about the English-speaking communities of Quebec and their relationship with French in Quebec and bilingualism in Canada”. Its authors recognize that “in recent years the English-speaking communities of Quebec (ESCQ) have been the focus of much public discourse and debate” (read: treated as scapegoats) and “the research results confirm the hypothesis that certain myths and misperceptions about the ESCQ persist among the general population in Quebec.”

We thought publishing some of the study’s myth-busting facts would be encouraging. (Note: The report cites the 2021 census for most stats below.)

Myth: Anglos can’t speak French. Fact: Most English-mother tongue Quebecers can speak French (71 per cent are bilingual), and a majority use it at work, have it as a language of instruction at school, speak it at home or have it as another mother tongue.

Myth: Anglos don’t use French at work. Fact: Most workers (65 per cent) in Quebec who have English as a mother tongue regularly use French at work.

Myth: Parents aren’t pushing their kids to learn enough French. Fact: “Most school-aged children in Quebec who have English as a mother tongue have French as a language of instruction at school, meaning a language that is used to teach a variety of subjects, such as science, history, geography…”

Myth: Bilingual families speak English at home: Fact: 87 per cent of people who have both English and French as their mother tongues regularly speak French at home.

Myth: In mixed households, the kids speak English. Fact: Households in Quebec where one adult has English as their mother tongue and the other has French as their mother tongue, most children (69 per cent) have French as a mother tongue.

Myth: Anglos aren’t interested in French culture. Fact: Most anglophone respondents from Quebec (55 per cent) were interested in French-language cultural products, such as books, music, film or television, and most (58 per cent) had attended artistic and cultural events in French over the past year, such as shows, festivals and exhibitions.

The report surveyed both language groups (anglos also hold misperceptions about francophones) and points out that despite these myths and despite the divisive talking points and punitive measures (Bill 96) employed by politicians, “English-speaking and French-speaking Quebecers appear to get along on an individual basis far more than the discourse suggests.” And that going forward, one remedy is to ignore the antagonistic rhetoric of politicians and instead just spend more time together: “By far the strongest support among all groups, however, was for encouraging more positive social interactions between anglophones and francophones through activities like youth exchange programs, social clubs, music, sports or other special interests.”

We can’t agree more.

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At the Low Down, we are passionate about delivering quality local news to Gatineau Hills residents. But passion alone cannot pay the bills.

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