Chantier Politique

June 24, 2017

English Edition, No. 17

Quebec's National Day and Summer Solstice on the Eve of Canada 150

Days of Celebration and Reflection

Quebec's National Holiday
Saturday, June 24 

Wendake International Pow Wow
Friday, June 30 - Sunday, July 2
100 boulevard Bastien, Wendake
For complete list of Pow Wows click here.

Ottawa Summer Solstice Pow Wow
Tuesday, June 20 - Sunday, June 25
Vincent Massey Park, unceded Anishinabe Algonquin territory, Ottawa

Quebec's National Day and Summer Solstice on the Eve of Canada 150
Days of Celebration and Reflection

Quebec Government Presents
"Policy on Quebec Affirmation and Canadian Relations"

Rehash of the Meech Lake Accord -- From Tragedy to Farce

Quebec's National Day and Summer Solstice on the Eve of Canada 150

Days of Celebration and Reflection

  Val-d'Or Summer Solstice celebrations (L'Écho abitibien)

On June 21 the Indigenous peoples lead celebrations across the country of the Summer Solstice, an occasion which since 1996 is officially known as National Aboriginal Day. The Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year has been a time for Indigenous peoples to gather and commemorate since time immemorial.

In recent years, National Aboriginal Day has also been an occasion for First Nations, Métis and Inuit people to engage in actions to affirm their rights in the face of the colonial arrangements the federal government continues to impose. This year is no exception. Even as the government marks Canada 150 with a celebratory tone while it imposes a police state to keep the peoples' fight for their rights in check, Canadians clearly state that Our Home Is on Native Land and justice must be done. While the Trudeau government declares constitutional and historical questions off limits, Indigenous peoples are speaking out against the cover-ups of historical injustice and on the need for redress in deeds, not words.

On June 24, the people of Quebec officially mark their National Day. In Quebec, the Summer Solstice celebration is "an expression of exchange and friendship amongst nations living in Quebec." A "Solstice of the Nations" is held by the Indigenous nations with a Fire Ceremony "to encourage closer ties amongst the peoples living on Quebec territory," so that "the coals of that fire light up the bonfire of the Great Show of Quebec's National Celebration, on the Plains of Abraham."

  June 24, 1834: Ludger Duvernay and the members of the Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera Society institute June 24 as Quebec's National Day. (

This aim is worth recalling today, when the police powers of the state are reverting to what they were when the British drowned the nascent Quebec nation in blood in 1837-38. From this suppression the British created what are called democratic institutions in which the same police powers defined rights and the electoral process which deprives the people of power to govern themselves to this day.

The patriot Ludger Duvernay was the publisher and editor of the patriot newspaper La Minerve. Under his guidance, the Society he founded organized a banquet on June 24, 1834 in the garden of the lawyer MacDonnell to institute a national celebration for Canadiens of all origins (today, the term Quebeckers is used). It was the first celebration of the people of the nascent Quebec nation, in which Duvernay, the Patriots, their elected representatives and their party recognized the people as "the primary source of all legitimate authority," and in doing so also recognized their sovereignty.

This national celebration established by Duvernay and the elected members of the Patriot Party fell on the same date as Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day but was not the same. In fact, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day had been introduced long before by the King of France and the Catholic high clergy in the colonies of the French empire in opposition to the June 21 summer solstice celebrated by the Indigenous peoples.

The Church, through the Council of Trent (1545-1563), attempted to Christianize the solstice celebration -- a celebration of light around a joyous bonfire -- by replacing it with a portrayal of submission in the person of Saint John the Baptist, "the lamb of God." In the same vein, in 1702, Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier in his Catechism for the Diocese of Quebec, intended for the Canadiens, noted that the Catholic Church in the New World (i.e. the colonies of the French empire) considered that ceremony acceptable so long as the "dances and superstitions" of the Natives were banished. It was not until 1908 that Pope Pius X -- advocating the division of the Canadian people into so-called French Canadians and English Canadians, which the British empire was so determined to impose -- named Saint John the Baptist as the patron saint of "French Canadians." Sixty years later, on June 24, 1968 and 1969, at a time the resurgence of Quebec's movement for independence and people's sovereignty was in full swing, this symbol of division and submission was swept aside and, once again, the National Celebration saw the people joyfully dancing around a bonfire.

The celebration of the National Day of the people of Quebec includes the celebration of the Patriots, who fought for independence from Britain in the mid-19th century and to establish an independent homeland and republic which vests sovereignty in the people: Nelson, De Lorimier, Côté, Chénier, Duvernay and O'Callaghan, amongst others. It includes celebrating all those who have espoused and continue to espouse the cause of the Quebec Patriots, in particular all those committed to elaborating a nation-building project commensurate with the needs of the times.

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Quebec Government Presents
"Policy on Quebec Affirmation and Canadian Relations"

Rehash of the Meech Lake Accord
-- From Tragedy to Farce

On June 1, the Couillard Liberal government of Quebec announced its "Policy on Quebec Affirmation and Canadian Relations." This so-called new policy is a rehash of Bourassa's "renewed federalism" from 30 years ago. It serves no purpose other than to reinforce the status quo whereby Quebec is integrated into the Anglo-Canadian state institutions which deprive the people of their right to govern. Despite this, the Couillard government claims it has invented the "first-ever such policy" and that its aim is to ''affirm Quebec's nationhood and its complete expression on the Canadian scene."

The essence of the policy is to claim that by being Quebeckers, we express what it means to be Canadian. The government says the policy will be carried out in two stages. First would come a period of ''dialogue'' with civil society institutions in Quebec and in Canada to promote ''Quebec's national character'' as well as Quebec's contribution to Canadian Confederation. This dialogue period would be followed by a reopening of constitutional talks between Quebec, the provinces and the federal government with the aim of adopting the demands put forward by the Quebec government at the time of the Meech Lake Accord.

The Meech Lake Accord set the stage for a tragedy for the people in which constitutional changes would be decided in secret and imposed by the rulers to serve their own interests, without the people playing any role. It was blocked at the last minute on June 22, 1990 by Indigenous Manitoba MLA Elijah Harper, leading to a political crisis for the ruling elite and their system. Lest Couillard forget, the Meech Lake Accord failed, but this does not stop his government from trying to repeat history, this time as farce.

Prime Minister Trudeau poured water on the entire thing before it even got off the ground. At a press conference in La Malbaie on June 8, Trudeau dismissed it saying, ''I am proud of this reflection which makes us reflect on how Quebeckers can feel even more at home within the country.'' This does not require constitutional talks, he said. "We are not opening the Constitution," Trudeau said.

Meanwhile, when Quebec Minister for Canadian Relations and Canadian Francophonie Jean-Marc Fournier, announced the project, he said:

''Mr. Premier, the moment we are sharing today marks an important stage in the history of our nation, and will give our Canadian relations new momentum.

''I am a Quebecker, and proud of it.

''I am a Quebecker and it is my way of being Canadian.

''This expression contains, in a nutshell, the meaning and essence of Quebec's participation in the Canadian Federation since its inception.

''It expresses a plurality of ways of belonging that characterizes our identity.

''An allegiance to Quebec and a sense of belonging to Canada.''

Whatever can be made of this mish-mash on belonging and identity and ''our way of being Canadian,'' it is as clear as clear can be that the Quebec government is not dealing with the constitutional question on a modern historical basis. Historical wrongs of Confederation and of the constitution must be addressed by recognizing the right of Quebec to self-determination and the hereditary rights of the Indigenous peoples and nation-to-nations relations, and by enshrining citizenship rights on a modern basis.

This must be done by electing a constituent assembly to draft a modern constitution based on modern principles of citizenship and rights, to be adopted by referendum. The people must not permit the interference of political parties and state institutions to create hysteria against proposals which enshrine the rights of nations and vest sovereignty in the people. On the contrary, the people must inform themselves and discuss widely such proposals and the principles involved. The current institutions, which are called democratic but are based on "reasonable accommodation" and subjecting people's rights to "reasonable limits" defined by police powers are not acceptable.

So long as the Quebec government does not handle the matter from the perspective of righting historical wrongs in a manner consistent with the requirements of the times, but persists in pushing narrow and self-serving motives, this initiative will fall on its face. One thing is certain: No Quebec government has the right or mandate to sign the ''patriated'' anti-people Constitution of 1982 behind the backs of the people. Couillard would do well to refrain from entertaining any such thought.

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