ANG 160 Fall 2005
(by Gabriel Potvin (aka.The Great Gaby-))
different ethnicity within Quebec’s largest cities such as Montréal, Québec,
Sherbrooke is a reality one must deal with fairly regularly. It is another story
if you take that same reality and apply it to where I was born, the Gaspesian
coast, since the minorities and the majority tend to not mix together. There
are, in fact, two major distinct minorities in the Gaspesian coast: the
Amerindians otherwise known as Natives and the English speaking community, which
also represents the Natives in many cases. The question at hand is how do these
minorities interact with the majority?
I heard on the news that some Natives had some kind of black market about
tobacco. I also knew about the warriors of 1990 in Oka and that the Natives were
reclusive and lived on their reserve outside of the jurisdiction of Quebec’s
with new knowledge from the ‘‘Intercultural studies’’ course (Ang 160),
and with my load of stereotypes, I was ready to do some footwork during Reading
Week. First step, I wanted the opinion of a true Native. I picked a reserve
named Gesgapegiag. I then entered a little dépanneur and asked a fairly young
man, probably in his early 30’s, if he minded answering a few questions. Here
are parts of what I noted:
Parler vous français?
Oui, mais l’anglais cé mieux
What is your name?
Do you know people outside the village?
A couple, but only those that still need wood for winter. I know everyone in the
How do you find the nearby villages (Carleton, Caplan and such)?
I go to Carleton often. People are speeding a lot around here. That’s why we
have this big sign close to here.
Anyone sell tobacco around here?
Yep, the dépanneur.
What do you know about the warrior’s crisis in 1990 in Oka?
They (Mohawks) caused some pile of trouble.
What did you do at that time?
Nothing. We’re Micmacs by the way.
entering the reserve, I noticed that most of the business signs were in English.
Nawa confirmed afterward that English was the language most used within the
reserve. It shows that the Native intend to sell their goods mainly to people
that live on the reserve. This behaviour has an effect of cutting them from
potential customers outside their village. By doing so, they are willingly or
unwillingly secluding themselves from the nearby French communities (namely
Carleton and Caplan). A common language builds trust and improves communication
(Linguistic Minority Communities' Contribution To Economic Well-Being), so by
using English only, this minority is doomed to preserve the reputation of being
a reclusive people. It is also a fact that the majority speaks French in that
region while in the reserve the percentage of Anglophones nearly reaches 90
percent (Minority Populations by First Official Language Spoken ).
we can see how the stereotypes strain relations with people outside of this
Micmac community. One stereotype would be that they are like the Mohawks. Nawa
was quick to remind me of his roots on that subject. Nevertheless, many people (including
myself) are subject to what is projected on the media and the truth is that we
are scared by the image of the warrior.
that they speak English almost exclusively on the reserve, the people in the
surroundings communities just do not know what to think anymore as they are
confused about the imagined/experienced other as portrayed through media images.
This is why their interactions with the majority are poor. Another bad point for
them is the fact that the news seems to portrait the Native as a new kind of
growing mafia to say the least. The traffic of tobacco is a perfect example of
that reality (Mohawks and Cigarette Trade). The majority simply generalize the
Mohawk black market incident and apply this image to all Natives. Once again, it
seems the media should take the blame for exposing only one side of the Native
I was curious about what my own community was thinking of the Micmacs. I
went straight for the community hall and requested an audience with the current
mayor, Claude Cyr. I asked him what he thought of the Micmacs and he gave me an
Internet site (http://www.gesgapegiag.com/). I was shocked. This meant that the
Micmacs community was online worldwide. This means without the shadow of a doubt
that they are indeed trying to better their relations with the majority. This
majority just need to visit their website to learn more about them although the
site concern mainly the Natives of this community. Moreover, one must not forget
that Nawa was clearly eager to go outside his reserve and meet new people.
Therefore, this community is actually trying in some ways to interact with the
All in all, what really hurts the Micmacs is basically the ignorance of
the majority. This ignorance leads to some very bad assumptions about them. The
only logical answer the Micmacs have to these stereotypes is to band together
and protect themselves just as the majority does (law 101 anyone). It would be
interesting to further this little research by considering the ghetto that is
created and how it affects the relations with the majority.
Linguistic Minority Communities' Contribution To Economic Well-Being:
Minority Populations by First
Official Language Spoken
Mohawks and Cigarette Trade