June 23, 2019
English Edition, No. 12
June 24, 2019 - Happy National Day!
Celebrating 185 Years of Quebec's National Day
• June 24, 1834
- The Patriots
Inaugurate National Day
• Summer Solstice and Quebec's
• Congratulations: Amherst Street
Is Now Atateken Street!
June 24, 2019 - Happy National Day!
Celebrating 185 Years of Quebec's National Day
This year we are celebrating the 185th anniversary of
Quebec's National Day. On June 24, 1834, Ludger Duvernay, founder of
the patriotic institution Aide-toi le ciel t'aidera ("God helps those
who help themselves") inaugurated this day as the National Day of the
nascent nation and dedicated the first toast to the people as "the
primary source of all legitimate authority." The National Day, "a
celebration, whose goal is to cement the union between Canadiens"[today, the term Quebeckers is used -
note] - La Minerve, June
26, 1834 - has since been the opportunity to celebrate -- with music
and song, meetings, parades and neighbourhood activities -- who we are
as a people, where we have come from and where we are going. It is a
multi-faceted celebration, similar to the ancient summer solstice and
the tradition, since time immemorial of the Harvest Feast, or simply
the change of season and the need for all of us, from all our
various social and national origins, to come together to take stock of
our common history.
This year, we celebrate the National Day with nearly
6,500 activities spread over almost 700 locations, including 323
fireworks displays, 342 bonfires, 1,178 shows and 2,156 family
activities on June 23 and 24.
It is also a political celebration, a quality that varies in
its expression depending on the times and circumstances. It is an
occasion to reflect upon how to ensure the building of our modern
Quebec in defence of the rights of all. This need to get together
increases with the growing marginalization of the people from political
Although the parties of the cartel party system in Parliament
and in the National Assembly want to be seen as the champions of
Quebec's "values," they are unable to put forward a unifying
nation-building project in which relations between the peoples are
based on the affirmation the rights of all and on sovereign
This year's National Day takes
place in a complex and difficult situation. The more the ruling elite
speaks of social cohesion and of Quebec expressing its
nationhood, the more it divides people and incites passions on
every basis possible, such as as with regard to religion and the
clothing one wears, immigrants and migrants as is presently the case,
to divert us from the struggle for modern arrangements that vest
decision-making power in the people so that we can humanize the
natural and social environment. Meanwhile, the Quebec state is being
usurped by global supranational private interests, which are the real
decision-makers and are implicating us in their nation-wrecking and
towards the path of war.
occasion of Quebec's National Day, the PMLQ salutes the people,
especially the youth, for their determination to defend the
rights of all -- of all human beings that make up a modern Quebec
-- irrespective of origin, gender or religious beliefs. The will
speak in one's own name, in defending the path to society's
progress, for the people of Quebec, Canada and all the peoples,
is being expressed with force and is cause for celebration on the
occasion of the National Day.
Drawing on its rich history and experience of living
together, the people of Quebec are at the dawn of a great renewal. To
achieve this, we must settle the issue of who decides, that is to say,
of how to vest decision-making power in the people in all matters of
concern to them. Finding a solution to the problem of who decides is
the most unifying of quests, a continuation of the struggle waged by
the Patriots of 1837-1838.
Happy National Day!
June 24, 1834 - The Patriots
Inaugurate National Day
Inauguration of National Day June 24,
On June 26, 1834, La Minerve
(whose purpose was to "spread education especially in the agricultural
class and defend the Just Claims of Canadiens"
La Minerve, February 12,
1827), published an article on a banquet held 2 days
earlier. "This celebration, the purpose of which is to cement the union
between Canadiens, will not
be fruitless. It will be celebrated every year as the National Day."
Ludger Duvernay, founder of the patriotic organization "Aide-toi et le
ciel t'aidera" ("God helps those who help themselves") lead the
initiative. Duvernay was also publisher and editor of the patriot
newspaper La Minerve.
An explicitly political celebration, the first National Day
established within the context of the struggle of the inhabitants of
Lower Canada to affirm their rights against the British Crown. In fact,
in February 1834, 92 resolutions were passed by the House of Assembly
of Lower Canada claiming greater control by citizens over the economic
and political decisions made in the colony.
Without waiting for a decision from London, the celebration
of the first National Day was organized in the garden of the
lawyer MacDonnell. More than 37 toasts and speeches were made,
all of them saluting the enlightened ideas of the time and the
people defending them. The first toast was to the people as the
"the primary source of all legitimate authority, and the day we
Article from La Minerve,
24 1834, highlighting the First Banquet of National Day (BanQ)
Far from division on the basis of language or
national origin which is imposed on us by the past and present
establishment, participants highlighted the contribution of the
Irish patriots and that of Daniel Tracey, founder of the Irish
Vindicator and Canada General
Advertiser, who supported the
demands of the people of Lower Canada seeking to exercise control
over their destiny.
The struggle of William Lyon Mackenzie and of the "other
reformers of Upper Canada" to assert the rights of the nascent nation
of the day was also toasted. The arrival of British citizens in Lower
Canada was also welcomed. The Patriots who were present at the banquet,
La Minerve reported, celebrated "Emigration: May the thousands of
British subjects who come every year to seek asylum on our shores
against the abuses and oppression they are suffering in their native
country, such will not take place amongst us and may they find the
welcome they deserve! They will form with the people of Canada an
impenetrable and irresistible phalanx against tyranny."
A specific toast was also raised to the "artisans and working
classes of Montreal and of this country in general. May education
continue to spread among society's useful members; may they
procure the well-being and ease that their work deserves."
The first National Day also began another tradition, that is
alive and well today, of offering songs and poems as forms of Quebec's
Summer Solstice and Quebec's National Day
Summer solstice celebrations in Kinawit, Val d'Or June 21,
2019 (Val-d'Or Native Friendship
Originally, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day was intimately tied to
the celebrations surrounding the summer solstice. The days
between June 21 and 24 being the longest, all kinds of activities
were organized to pay tribute to the sun since time immemorial.
The bonfires, a tribute to the light, served as public rejoicing,
mainly in what was Gaul and northern Europe. The summer solstice
is still being celebrated to this day in Ireland, Scotland,
Iceland, England, Peru, Ecuador, Canada and other countries
In what was to be Quebec, the tradition was noted by the
Jesuit Louis LeJeune on the banks of the St. Lawrence in 1636. In 1646,
the Journal des Jésuites reported that "on the 23rd of June a
bonfire is lit on Saint-Jean's Day at eight-thirty in the
evening. Five cannon shots were fired and the muskets were fired two or
three times." In the rural environment that was New France at that
time, the rhythm of work was linked to the seasons, and the Day
provided a few moments of respite and entertainment before the start of
the big haymaking and harvest work.
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, which was 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.
When Ludger Duvernay and the elected members of the Patriot
Party inaugurated the National Day of the nascent Quebec nation, they
did so within a spirit very different from the orientation desired by
the church. Historians like Leopold Gagner, quoted in Denis
Monière's biography of Duvernay, said that Duvernay had been
influenced by St. Patrick's Day, which for the Irish is "a precious
instrument for the reclamation of their freedom and rights."
It is noteworthy that today on June 21, National Indigenous
Peoples Day, a "Solstice of the Nations," also takes place. It is "an
expression of exchange and friendship amongst the nations living in
Quebec." The Fire Ceremony is held by the Indigenous nations "to
encourage closer ties amongst the peoples living on Quebec's
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."
The celebration of the Quebec people's National Day includes
the celebration of the Patriots who fought for independence from
Britain in the mid-19th century: Nelson, De Lorimier,
Côté, Chénier, Duvernay and O'Callaghan and many
others. They fought to establish an independent homeland and republic
that vests sovereignty in the people. 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.
More summer solstice celebrations on the occasion of National
Indigenous Peoples Day 2019.
Left: Quebec City, Right: Saguenay (Quebec
Native Friendship Centre, Saguenay
Saint-Jean-Baptiste, 1634-1852, in Mélanges
historiques Études éparses et inédites de Benjamin
Sulte, compiled, annotated and published by Gérard
de diffusion des archives du Québec
Amherst Street Is Now Atateken Street!
On June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day, Montreal Mayor
Valérie Plante and Regional Chief of the Assembly of First
Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) Ghislain Picard announced at a
press conference the name change of Amherst Street to Atateken
Street (pronounced Ah-dah-deh-gan), which means "fraternity" in
the kanien’kéha (Mohawk) language. The name change
will take effect in September 2019.
Members of the Indigenous toponymy committee at the press
conference highlighted the innovative collaborative work with
partners from many nations including the Mohawk Nation and the
urban community, within the context of the reconciliation process
with First Nations peoples. Also in the crowd were many who had
fought for more than a decade for this name change to come to
life. Neighbourhood residents were amongst the crowd, who
came to listen to the many speakers and applaud the name
First and foremost the name change was brought about by the
efforts of the First Nations and the people of Quebec through
various actions including petitions and demonstrations in the
early 2000s. In 2017 the city announced that the name would be
changed to honour First Nations as a gesture of reconciliation
toward First Nations peoples. The new name was chosen by a
committee composed of Indigenous peoples.
Ghislain Picard said, "Now that Amherst Street has a new
name, the spirit of our peoples, the spirit of our ancestors can now
rest in peace." However, they could not forget this "extremely painful"
chapter of "our common history," he added. "I am still shocked by this
point in history in which a merciless attack was carried out against
our people. How could this be planned? How could that be executed? I am
really shocked and troubled," he said.
The street had been originally named for Field Marshall Lord
Jeffrey Amherst who served as an officer in the British Army and as
Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces. After conquering New France
for Britain he became the first British Governor General in the
territories in British North America that eventually became Canada.
Amherst openly advocated for the extermination of indigenous peoples
and employed biological warfare against them by gifting them blankets
infected with smallpox.
ISSUES | HOME
Read Chantier politique