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Further on Acadia: Duelling “I am Canadian”s
My confused researches on Acadia have continued, and this is what I further report back.
I remember a decade back that Joe Canadian rant ad campaign from Molson, which turned into a surprising assertion of Canadian nationalism, though it was mostly an assertion of what Canada was not (i.e. the U.S.):
It’s a cool ad, which spawned much imitation (including a fairly lame Australian instance from Foster’s—a beer no Australian actually drinks). It’s also a reminder that identity is much easier defined negatively than positively. Identity is only understood with reference to the Other—otherwise it’s the Luminiferous Ether, omnipresent and unnoticed; and the easiest thing to say about your identity, when you’re confronted by the Other, is: “That… is what I am not.”
MARTIN: Rioux, you should have called your post “I am anti-american”.
RIOUX: The original Molson ad aimed to affirm Canadian distinctiveness against Americans. There’s nothing Anti-American in that, it’s just an affirmation of Canadian identity.
MARTIN: What identity? They sell more Kraft dinners in Canada than in the USA lol.
Anti-Americanism is the core of Canadian identity.
Which is easy for Quebecois to laugh at, but (a) they’re eating Kraft dinners too, and they’re anxious about it; and (b) they’re as susceptible to defining their identity negatively as Anglo-Canadians are. And Martin’s not entirely wrong. Anglo-Canada has defined itself with a glance southward more than it has eastward. In fact, if it wasn’t for the gloriously insane folly of the Fenian raids, there wouldn’t be a Confederation as we know it.
Hold Toronto and Montreal hostage in exchange for a Free Ireland. With the States looking the other way. It was pure madness, but it gave us a cool country whose identity #1 I didn’t get to explore enough this trip (pity, it’s intriguingly close yet far to Australianhood)—and whose identity #2 is continuing to distract me.
There was a Québec counterpart to Joe Canadian, of course, Guy Québecois:
Guy Québecois is not a affectionate Quebecois caricature of Quebecois, but an Anglo-Canadian, Annoyed Editorial caricature for a Toronto radio station. (“I believe in a Distinct Society—as long as somebody else pays for it.”) But it is still a caricature drawn by someone who has at least driven through Quebec. And—albeit for their own purposes—the Francophone YouTube commenters are not objecting to the caricature. They’re either finding it funny, or yelling QUEBEC LIBRE FTW at the Anglophones. Largely in semi-phonetic spelling reflecting the local accent, because that too is a badge of identity. (With the occasional “why is noone using accents aigus here?” sideswipe.)
It would be a disappointment if the Acadians had not come up with their own counterpart to Joe Canadian, and here is Réjean Acadian, via a blogger in Nunavut. (Also here, with further commentary on Acadian identity issues in French.) It’s Chiac, so it’s only one of the several, Russian-Doll like constructions of Acadianness (on which more later); and like the other two instances, it does plenty of negative definition of identity. Here’s my misleading translation.
(English in the original italicised. Markers of distinction from France, Quebec, and Anglo-Canada indicated as FQC)
I’m not on stamps or welfare,
I don’t fish for mussels,
I am not illiterate or uneducated.
I do not need a bib or complicated tools to eat my lobster,
I [rouve?] it on my own:
I eat it with fresh bread and Coke.Q
I do not listen to Patrick Bruel,F Pierre LalondeQ or Nana Mouskouri.F
Real music is done by 1755, Bois-Joli, Zachary, and Daniel & Ola! [misparsing here…]
And I do not shop at Galleries de la CapitaleQ or Eaton CentreC
but at Champlain Place and Home Hardware.
And I do not speak QuebecoisQ or France French.F
I’m trilingual: I speak Chiac, French, and English.
And it’s “Co-cogne” not “Co-cagne” [feast].
I’ve got my own university and my own flag.
My heroes are called Antonine, Ti-Louis, and Roméo.
I’m proud of my language, my heritage and my culture.
Don’t worry your brains: even if you can take the boy out of Acadia, you can’t take Acadia out of the boy.
And the Grand Time is August 15
Not June 24Q or July 14F
I’m called Réjean, Freddy, Aquilla, Maxime, and Jude. And
I am Acadian.
Originally written by Jules à Hector à Eric à Cyprien à Cyprien
(Yes, I know Q after I am Canadian is naughty. I’m assuming the mention of Coke is aware of the Pepsi-ocracy of Quebec, which Guy Québecois mentions at the start of his rant.)
A smidgeon more Q and F than C in there. Which is not just Jules’, Hector’s, Eric’s, Cyprien #1’s and Cyprien #2’s bias; but after the cluestick Acajack hit me with yesterday over at AFG’s, I’ll no longer assume they speak for all Acadia. That they speak for Chiac-speaking Acadia, and that Chiac-speaking Acadia is ambivalent about Quebec—that, I find plausible enough.