Thursday, January 21

What remains of a country’s desire?

It happened 25 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Montreal. October 30, 1995. I was 16 years old. I had just attended a second lost referendum. I was experiencing my first major political pain. I had campaigned for the Yes camp, failing to be able to vote. We believed in it, especially in the last days. I had even made an appointment with friends in the city center to celebrate the birth of the country, but no, everything had collapsed like a house of cards and I was left at home, appalled.

My parents had tried to make me understand that it was a victory-flavored defeat and that the game was not over, but I had felt that evening, instinctively, that in politics, a half victory, that did not exist. Either we won or we lost. Point. And that the history of Quebec was unfortunately strewn with a greater number of setbacks. Yet, lying in my bed, unable to sleep, I brooded over the events of the past few years which all seemed to point to the triumph that so many Quebecers had hoped for. I remembered, as if I were there, that historic Saint-Jean-Baptiste parade on Sherbrooke Street in 1990, the first major organized since the clashes that marked those of the late 1960s. J was 11 years old. In just a few hours, the Meech Lake Accord had officially been scuttled and people had taken to the streets of Montreal in fury. There was a sea of ​​flags and an ocean of spectators. Throughout the parade, people chanted: “Vive le Québec libre!” “,” Mulroney at the post! “,” We want a country! “. Support for sovereignty had jumped, topping 60%, and seemed more feasible than ever.

I remembered the strong emotions that had assailed me for the first time and whose power I was discovering intoxication. This feeling of belonging to a community that did not allow itself to be trampled on its feet and which loudly demanded respect and the right to dignity. This pride in being part of a people who would take charge of themselves and build a new country that would finally meet their aspirations and needs. It was on that day, I am convinced today, that I fell in love with Quebeckers and the idea of ​​country.

I also remembered what followed: the failure of the Charlottetown accord in 1992, the tidal wave of Bloc Quebecois in 1993 and the election of Quebec Party in 1994. I expected, like many others, that these resounding successes would inevitably lead us to independence. But no. Everything fell apart and the dream seemed to turn into a nightmare.

That night, I hardly fell asleep, my throat tight and my heart shattered.

See you next time…

Today, I am 41 years old, and I had to painfully realize that electoral victories (like the Stanley Cup parades, for that matter) had since been well spaced.

But this first emotion that I had felt during these years of effervescence and affirmation still burns in me as strongly as during that sunny day in June 1990 during which I became aware of the beauty and the immense potentialities. of my company.

It also resonates with my sons, who have grasped over the years, seeing me sometimes moved by watching documentaries on the two referendums or lyrical flights by René Lévesque, which a country can also generate wild hopes. This deep desire for freedom and justice, to which only independence will never be able to fully respond, still lives, in more or less buried folds, I am convinced, of the millions of Quebecers who have already wished the country with all their hearts. strengths and transmitted this feeling of love for their people to their loved ones and their descendants. As activists and early dreamers did, those aging baby boomers who have accomplished so much and who are quietly passing the torch to a new generation who will continue the fight.

They will have bequeathed to us this crazy dream of creating a country with our words, our values ​​and our sensitivity to the world, with all that that represents of capacities to exploit, of possibilities to explore for a community like ours whose very existence will have has always been threatened. After centuries of shame and servitude, we could finally take our story to a new beginning where the dice are no longer loaded and where everything is to be built and written.

When I watch the independence movements vibrate in many countries around the world, and particularly in Catalonia and Scotland, I tell myself that this idea of ​​a country to be created is anything but outdated. That it is not linked to a fashion or an era. That she is only waiting for a few turns of fate to re-emerge in the foreground, as has been the case in Catalonia in recent years, where support for independence has jumped in barely five years (2010 to 2015 ) from 20% to almost 50%, and that it has remained there roughly since. Sometimes all it takes is a spark to ignite the brazier.

The time of history sometimes seems very long and capricious, but I am convinced that this impulse of creation, which lives in so many Quebecers, is only waiting for the right moment to reappear and finally carry out the dreams of greatness of our ancestors. . Because as long as there are people who believe in the idea of ​​a country, hope will endure.

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