Intercultural studies 

ANG 160 Fall 2005

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Bilinguilism in Eastern Townships

by Karine Gélineau

The Eatern Townships are certainly one of the most beautiful regions in Quebec. Historically the Eatern Townships were an area of English-speaking settlers: Brome, Compton, Missisquoi, Drummond, Frontenac, Mégantic, Richmond, Stanstead, Sherbrooke, and Shefford. The English-speaking community is certainly not today what it used to be in the early 18th century. This community suffers from demographic decline. The decline started during 1860s with emmigration to other regions of Canada and the United States. In this short paper I am interested to show you how it feels for a Francophone to grow up in a bilingual town, in a bilingual region. I will also show you how and why the English-speaking community has declined.

            Do you believe it is true to say that people are different depending on how they were raised and where they grew up? I do believe so. My name is Karine Gélineau. I am a 23- year-old woman and a future ESL teacher. I grew up in the beautiful town of Waterloo. When I talk about my hometown in Sherbrooke, at the University, most of the people do not even know where Waterloo is located. Well, I simply answer to those people that it is a beautiful town of approximetely 4000 people. It is located near three important but small cities: Granby, Bromont and Magog. Once you come into town you certainly do not want to leave. It is not very big, no mall, or big fast foo restaurant, but it is magical. In town we have a beautiful heritage path, which helps visitors to understand the story behind this small but wonderful town. In order to understand the actual relationship between the Anglophones and the Francophones in Waterloo, you have to know about its history! Everything began after the adoption of the Constitutionak Act in 1791. The British Government allowed the demographic development of Anglophones to out-number the growing French population. I believe that from that moment some Francophones felt a little frustrated towards Anglophones, but it is certainly not the majority of us! Citizens have passed through many difficult obstacles: the First and the Second World War, and tragedies. Today’s obstacles are not as bad as the war, but in fact it affects everyone’s life; the closing of almost every industry. Not very long ago, Waterloo was a big city with many industries, but now in 2005 only three major industries are still alive! Maybe all those obstacles made the citizens closer. If you ask most of the citizens, they will tell you that the city and the people are lovely. From my point of view I can say that Waterloo, is tattooed on my heart. I want to live here; I want to raise my children in this lovely community. Each time you walk in the streets in town people will greet you, is does not matter to us if you are white, black, anglophone or francophone, people will say hi. Most people in Waterloo are bilingual, or know somehow words of the other language. It is very pleasant to walk and see two different cultures living in harmony.

            Waterloo is certainly not the only city in the region where you can have both languages in a town. The Eastern Townships have many of these bilingual cities. It is a territory of approximately 16,000 kilometres where most cities or villages are usually considered to be French, but in fact more than 41000 Anglophones live in the Eastern Township. In 1971, the number of English Townshippers was approximately 57,800. The English community has decreased over the years; the difference is about 30% less Anglophones over 30 years. In 1971 the English population represent 11% of the total population, today Anglophones represents only 7%. English-speakers are concentrated in Brome-Missisquoi (26.5%), Sherbrooke (19.2%) and Memphrémagog (18.7%) The majority of today’s population is over 65 years old. It shows that many young Anglophones have left the region, many of them because of work possibilities. Even though the English community is getting smaller and smaller each year, most of us today are bilingual. Yes, today in 2005, 66% of the population of the Eastern Township is bilingual. This new community has deep roots and a common heritage. Townshippers have considerable tolerance and cooperation between the French and English-speaking communities.

Townshippers love their region and are yelling to do everything they can to keep young Anglophone people from going out of the region. The association of the Townshippers is working on a project that will promote the interests of English community. They want to enhance the cultural community by giving them the opportunity to speak and to work in their own language amongst their own people. It is not a question of racism, but a question of intelligence. Today in Quebec, the Franco-Quebecers seem to put more time thinking about the importance of the law 101 then they spend time thinking about people’s right to live. I agree with them when they say that Anglophones have the right to receive health care in English. Imagine you are elsewhere in the world and you need health care, the most important thing, won’t you appreciate if someone speaks the same language as yours. Well let us give the Anglophones the possibility to feel at ease, not like stranger within their own country!

 

Work Cited

Gendron, Mario, and Racine Richard. Waterloo 125 ans d’histoire. Société d’histoire deShefford, 1992.

Hughes, Walter, and Gaudet, J. Jacques. The First Hundred Years. Waterloo, 1967

Websites:

http://simmons.b2b2c.ca/MAP.HTM

http://www.townshipsheritage.com/

http://www.ville.waterloo.qc.ca/