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There is a very interesting series airing on television named “Qui êtes-vous?” (“Who are you?”). It’s a Montréwood adaptation of the British television program “Who do you think you are?”.
It’s a program which traces the family roots of some well-known Montréwood television personalities. The famous personalities being featured work directly with genealogists, travelling around the world and tracing where their ancestors came from.
In Canada, and even in Québec, there tends to be a false belief that most white Francophones, are descended in full from the French colonialists of the 1600s and early 1700s. This program debunks that false belief. Even the personalities involved in the program are surprised to learn of their non-“pure laine” roots (an increasingly politically incorrect term meaning “pure-blooded” Québécois [literally translated as “pure wool”] from the original French colonialists). For example, Normand Brathwaite (the subject of an earlier post), born in Montréal in the early 1950s, unexpectedly discovered he was descended in part from African slaves in the Caribbean.
Québécois, just like any other Canadian, are descended from everywhere: First nations, European heritage of all origins, African of all origins, Mid-Eastern of all origins, Asian of all origins, and Latin American of all origins.
We’re undergoing a period of tremendous demographic change in Québec and all over Canada. In many ways, we’re moving in the direction Brazil took many generations ago: that of many ethnic communities mixing to the point that many people in Brazil can now find their roots from multiple continents. 80 years ago it would have been common for people in Québec to say they were of French, and sometime Irish / British Isles decent. But now people all over Québec can trace their backgrounds to many nations (such as mixed “Haitian, French, Irish”, or mixed “Vietnamese, Scottish, Italian”, etc.). This is the new face of Québec and of Canada. (I myself have ancestry from England, Germany, Scotland, Germany, Russia, France, Wales, Norway, Switzerland, Ireland, and the Netherlands, with most branches of my ancestors having immigrated to what is now Canada and the US in the 1600s and 1700s, I have cousins with Chinese ancestry, and I’m currently dating someone of Korean descent… this is the face of Québec and Canada today. A large portion of my friends and people who I grew up with are Canadians of Indian descent, Arabic descent, African descent, Latin American descent, East and Southeast Asian descent, and many mixed-combination descents. It’s the face of our Francophone and Anglophone societies, it reflects our common values, our common lifestyle, and our common outlook on life).
The highest per-capita immigration rates of all OECD countries are those in Canada and Québec. Considering we have such high rates of immigration from all over the world, over the next 50 years the face of Québec will change even more, as people from South Asia, East Asia, Latin America Africa and the Middle-East mix and marry within Québec’s already diverse population.
This is one of the reasons I find “Qui êtes-vous?” such an interesting program. The longer our ancestors have lived in Québec and Canada, the more surprises can be found with just a little investigation.
The show has been on the air for two seasons, and many of the people featured have already been the subjects of earlier blog posts.
But over the next few posts, we’ll look at a few of the personalities from the last two seasons. These are people who are very well known in Québec, and it’s good to know who they are (everybody else in Québec already knows them).
The program’s website is found here: http://quietesvous.radio-canada.ca/