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We are not more

February 15, 2010

Friday evening, 23 millions of Canadians, more than 30 millions American, and as-of-yet-uncounted numbers of people elsewhere in the world watched the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympic Games.

It should have been a window to showcase the richness and depth of Canadian culture. In several respects, it was, and I particularly appreciated the part given to the First Nations and aboriginal people of Canada.

But as far as showcasing the richness and depth of Canadian culture, it kind of really downplayed one rather important (more-than-20%-of-the-country important) part of Canadian culture and of Canadian history.

I’m hardly the only one who feel so.

I mean…as I said, I was fine with giving a large part of the ceremony to the First Nations. Lord knows they deserve the spotlight, and much more besides. But what was in there for French Canada, considering that French is already an official language of the Olympic movements (so they’d have to include French in the official parts of the ceremony anyway?)

There were about four references to French culture in Canada during the ceremony. One was the song; the other threes were blink-and-you’ll-miss-it references that nobody without actual foreknowledge of Canadian culture and history would miss.

1.The Garou song. Which was horrible.
2.The devil in a flying canoe at the beginning of the fiddle sequence (that’s the old French Canadian legend of the Chasse Galerie)
3.The “Rockets and Great Ones” “Number 9s and 99s” lines in the “This is Canada” bit of slam poetry (Rocket and Number 9 refer to French-Canadian hockey player Maurice Richard)
4.The (translated to English) text by Francois-Xavier Garneau (one of Quebec’s early poets and historian).

That’s…pretty much it. Aside from the aforementioned stray lines in French during the ceremony, (something we saw in Beijing and Turin and whatnot, too!) were the only sign these Olympics are taking place in a province that has two official languages, and

Particularly galling in the case of #3, since the slam poem had the time and space to mention italo-canadian and sino-canadians by name (Chinatowns and LIttle Italies), and to mention the Maritimes and the Rockies by name, and so on and so forth, and pretended to be a long list of the part that make up Canada (and that Canada is “more than the sums of these”). A passing and extremely oblique reference is all French Canada warrant in that? Yeah.

And then Canadians wonder why many Québécois don’t feel particularly included…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. tom permalink
    February 24, 2010 4:05 am

    Well it wouldn’t be Canadian if the French weren’t bitching and whining about something trivial.

    • Guillaume permalink*
      March 1, 2010 11:39 pm

      Why should the fact that it’s trivial to you makes it trivial to us?

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