A Symposium on Biculturalism in Manitoba, The Manitoba Historical Society and La Société Historique de Saint-Boniface
MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1963-64 season
Mr. Chairman, mes chers amis et en particulier mes partenaires de ce Symposium, it me fait plaisir de remercier la Société Historique de Saint-Boniface et aussi celle de Winnipeg, la Manitoba Historical Society de cette invitation et je m'en voudrais de ne pas pouvoir vous plus que mon texte est à peu près entièrement français, je serai obligé de traduire à mesure. Alors vous allez reconnaître peut-être du français en anglais dès que vous entendrez mon anglais-c'est du bilinguisme pas toujours du meilleur évidemment.
If my speech seems somewhat laborious at times, it may be because my notes were written in French. My address this evening, then, may exemplify one aspect of Canadian bilingualism, for my grammatical constructions will probably be more French than English and this is typical of many French Canadians who speak both languages. The problem is that bilingualism and biculturalism may be a menace to Confederation. The possibility exists that Quebec may separate from the rest of Canada if the co-existence of both languages and both cultures ad mare usque ad mare is not recognized. This is indeed a serious matter. I have with me this evening a statement from the Minister of Revenue in the Province of Quebec, the Honourable Eric Kierans. The Minister recently declared that "Separatism, as a philosophy, is a decent alternative to Canadian unity". I ask you, why should we ignore the facts? Why should we pretend that we are all good chums? It may comfort us to do so, but it is not realistic.
Having maintained that "Separatism, as a philosophy, is a decent alternative to Canadian unity", the Honourable Eric Kierans went on to explain that "Neither do the French Canadian masses, nor the present Quebec government promote secession of the province from the rest of Canada." However, the present current nourishing political, economic and cultural aims should be recognized, and this is an echo to the short judgment of the Canadian novelist of Scottish origin, Hugh McLennan, who states that "There will be a Canada with two cultures or no Canada at all." The same opinion was voiced by a more, I should say, materialistic voice - that of the Financial Post of Toronto on February 2, 1963, under the title "No Tempest in a Teacup," and this is what was written:
Several months ago, the Honourable Mr. Lesage received Mr. Andre Malreaux, Minister of State in the government of France. Malreaux voiced the opinion that as French Canadians were near to France, then should become more French and less Canadian. I would like to quote an excerpt from Lesage's reply to these allegations. It must be quoted in French because it cannot be translated.
Tout comme votre humanisme Monsieur le Ministre ne vous a pas rendu moms f rangais, notre hérédité française ne nous a pas rendu moins Canadiens. Héritier du peuple le plus individualiste de la terre, le canadien-français ne pouvait à son tour qu'être indépendant même de ses origines tout en approfondissant sa communion avec elle. Le génie de la France n'a jamais davantage prouvé sa force qu'en nourissant des peuples qui ont hérité d'elle la faculté de ne pas l'imiter servilement. Cette volonté d'être différent au carrefour de deux cultures nord-américaines c'est en réalité le plus grand et le plus affectueux des témoignages d'admiration que nous puissions vous rendre. Jamais nous ne pourrons être davantage fidèles à nos origines qu'en demeurant, dans la Confédération canadienne, l'antidote contre l'américanisation de nos cultures.
Bilingualism and biculturalism are matters of vital concern to the survival of Canada, but, in my opinion, the practical solutions to our problems will have to come from the provincial level and not from the federal government. That is why, as Manitobans, we will have to try and settle this problem right here. What will our action be? In what regions or sectors will we have to act in order to create a climate favourable to a flowering of genuine bilingualism and biculturalism? Well, to be realistic, we must grant first consideration to the Franco-Manitobans. If they are not bilingual and are obliged to abandon their French culture, can we hope that the other groups will appreciate and enjoy the linguistic wealth of the second partner of Confederation?
Manitobans of French expression have demands. They are clear and specific, as concerns the teaching of the French language in Manitoba; and it is certain that, if the young Franco-Manitoban student could study his language in a truly French atmosphere, he would be able to lay the foundations for the perpetuation of his own culture. He needs the French language, if he is to enjoy the culture itself. Certainly, at the present time, the teaching of the French language is on the down-grade in the French, or in the supposedly French, schools of Manitoba, and this has been realized by the more vigilant sentries, or sentinels, of our French-Canadian group here in Manitoba. French is not simply a language to be spoken at home. It must be taught and practised in the elementary and the secondary schools and even at the university level.
We must ask, therefore, how well our province is doing at these educational levels. First of all, let us consider the elementary and the secondary schools, and let us be very frank and admit that very little French is being taught in Manitoba on either of these two levels. Recent changes regarding the teaching of French have been authorized for our schools but these changes do not satisfy the needs of the Franco-Manitobans. One hour of French is good for the teaching of the language but it does not suffice as a substitute for a French school. One hour of French will not perpetuate a French cultural group. Because I studied in a college where Greek was taught one hour a day, I certainly am not justified to say that I studied in a Greek college; and, I know just about as much Greek as many of our young French Canadians know French through the teaching of French for the French as it is taught in Manitoba's schools.
You, who know Manitoba history, will recall that at the moment of Confederation, and in 1870 when Manitoba joined Confederation, French was an official language in this province. It was used in one-half of the schools in Manitoba. It was suspended in 1890, only to be re-introduced in 1896, but the Laurier-Greenway settlement was weak, pedagogically speaking. It allowed not only the teaching of French, but also it allowed schools in which there were ten children speaking French or any language other than English, to teach in English and in the maternal tongue as d'après le système bilingue, that is, in conformity with the bilingual system. This rule was anti-pedagogical; it was arbitrary. Any number of languages could be taught and we do not find it difficult to understand the arguments of those who wanted to change the ruling in 1916. They wanted to limit the number of languages in the schools because of the variety of ethnic groups who were coming to Manitoba around the turn of the century. Limits were necessary, but why should the limits be set so as to eliminate all languages except the English language? There was, we know, a great deal of pressure being exerted upon us from Ontario and they wanted to plunge French into the same crematorium as all the other languages of people who came after Confederation, but, as you know, French is strong: le français a la vie dure et les français ont la vie dure aussi.
It was as a result of these aforementioned developments that an association was founded to maintain the teaching of French in the schools. This association is not merely a symbol of our aspirations but an active organization which has been working for almost fifty years. For a time, the teaching of French was maintained through the training of teachers in a French normal school. This school was closed in 1916. We cannot afford to send many teachers to France or to Quebec and teacher-training is one of the great problems which we face. We cannot maintain the French language and culture for ourselves or play our role in this Canadian pattern of bilingualism and biculturalism unless some changes are forthcoming. French will have to become the teaching language for the French-Canadians. If there were only a few French-Canadians in a particular school, it would, of course, be ridiculous for them to be taught in their own language but where they are numerous enough, where the population will ask for it, French instruction must be available. Thus, what we need is adequate provision for the training of French teachers, and my recommendation, as far as the elementary and the secondary levels of education are concerned, is for a French normal school. We imitated Ontario in 1890 and in 1916, why not imitate Ontario today? In Ontario, especially since last summer, French is the teaching language for French-Canadians or Franco-Ontarions from Grade 1 to Grade 13, and they have two French normal schools. We only need one. Why not, therefore, keep on imitating Ontario, especially when Ontario is behaving well?
I am proud of the fact that the University of Manitoba has maintained the spirit of Confederation in Manitoba. It must be admitted, however, that there is something illogical in this situation. We have a University that is really bilingual - truly bilingual and bicultural - and on the other hand French was a banned language, or a language that some have wanted to ban, since 1916. We have a university which has maintained French, not only the teaching of French in its French Department but an absolutely French college in the College de St-Boniface. In the College we teach all subjects in French, the one exception being English literature. At the University level we have the true spirit of 1870 - the spirit, apparently, that is spreading throughout Canada. We did not always receive provincial grants at the College de St-Boniface. These were not always given to denominational colleges, but, fortunately, that has been rectified and we have been receiving grants. The idea was elaborated by the Campbell government; put into practise by the Roblin government; and I think that we have no complaints concerning French instruction at the university level.
To reiterate and to conclude, may I state, first, that instruction in the French language is fundamental to the preservation of our culture. Second, everyone should realize that, if the situation remains as it is today, ten or fifteen years from now there will be no Cercle Moliere in St. Boniface; there will be no Society Historique (only, perhaps, an Historical Society in which French subjects will be discussed); there will be no French language; and there will be no French culture. And, finally, I want to tell you that I have just returned from Quebec, where I met very few separatists. In Manitoba we have separatists; I have been hearing them in symposiums over television. The people who want to limit the use of French to the province of Quebec and the House of Commons are preaching separatism. Those who urge the separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada are practising a form of decadent imperialism that should disappear. Let us, altogether, be Canadians of goodwill.
I find myself in perfect agreement with the central point Father Guy has emphasized, and I am wondering why we have neglected our responsibilities for so many years.
We were asked to discuss biculturalism in Manitoba, but it is impossible to discuss biculturalism or bilingualism in Manitoba other than in relation to Canadian biculturalism. We are, after all, a part of Canada. The pattern may be different in Manitoba from what it is in Newfoundland but still we should endeavour to reach some common denominator applicable to every province of Canada. The general principles must be the same but the actual pattern will be dictated, to a large extent, by the population content in each province.
English and French are the official languages of Manitoba and of Canada. This language status was acquired - not at the time of Confederation - in the period from September 13, 1759, the day of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, to February 10, 1763, the time of the signing of the Treaty of Paris. That was the time that this arrangement was made. It was a pact between the English, on the one side, and French, on the other side. I maintain that no one can come to Canada and claim the right to deviate from what was decided at that time. We have to know the background of that original arrangement, if we are going to understand the situation in Manitoba. The original arrangement was confirmed and it was strengthened through the period from 1763 to 1867. The pact was in effect, therefore, realized a hundred years before the British North America Act was passed. When Manitoba became a part of Canada in 1870, it became subject to what was agreed upon by conduct in the period from 1759 to 1763.
Primary evidence that there are two official languages in Canada is to be found in a statute which is very seldom mentioned. In the Union Act of 1840 it was provided that English was to be the language. The French objected. In 1848 that provision of the Union Act was changed. It was withdrawn and official notice was given to that effect. This is hardly ever mentioned and it is one of the most important milestones in the history of Canada, because it acknowledged the objection of the French to English alone being the official language, and it established, in 1849, that both were official languages of Canada.
Let us be clear on what we mean by official languages. The two official languages are the only ones that can be languages of instruction in Canada. If one goes to a school here, one cannot try to teach a child of Grade 1 in the Chinese language that 2 and 2 make 4. If one is going to teach a child of six that 2 and 2 make 4, one must use either French or English, and that is applicable to the whole of Canada. This doesn't mean, as was pointed out by Father Guy, that we can deny facts. We have to be practical; we have to be realistic; we have to accept the facts as they are. The application of that right, applying it to Manitoba, must be that French could be used (regretfully I have to say "could") as a language of instruction in a centre of French population such as St. Boniface, La Broquerie, or Ste. Rose du Lac. This, however, cuts right across Section 240 of the Public Schools Act of Manitoba. That Act was passed in 1952 and is now on the statute books. It provides that English, and English only, is to be the language of instruction in Manitoba. The Royal Commission got around this by pointing out that there is a certain administrative leeway used, perhaps in St. Boniface, perhaps in La Broquerie, perhaps in some other places, where the child knows only French and the teacher proceeds to teach that child in the French language that 2 and 2 make 4. In my opinion, there shouldn't be any administrative leeway. One should either have the right to teach in French or not. That's why I say that-and I took this stand in Ottawa before the Royal Commission-wherever there are sections like that, those sections must be amended. It will have to be amended even though some people may claim that these rights fall exclusively within the jurisdiction of the provinces. If it is exclusively within the jurisdiction of the provinces, then the British North America Act will have to be amended to that effect. I take my stand with Father Guy, therefore, and I say that the language of instruction could be, and should be, both French and English.
There is another difference between the two official languages and other languages. English and French are not foreign languages anywhere in Canada, but this is not true of the other languages in use in this country.
From a purely legalistic point of view all other languages, with the exception of the two official languages, are foreign languages in Canada. This doesn't necessarily mean that recognition shouldn't be given to other languages, but it must be given in a different way. This brings us, then, to an examination of the status of the other languages.
Section 133 of the British North America Act states that English and French will be used in certain official documents, processes, and so on, and in a few cases these languages must be used in the publication of records. If the French relied upon that and that alone to support their position, they wouldn't have a case, but they don't rely upon that. They go right back to the beginning, and the fact that they must do so is significant for the status of Canada's ethnic groups.
Many of the people who migrated to Canada after Confederation spoke languages other than English or French. These people weren't told about the original pact; therefore, these people have tended to take the position that this question had been decided by Section 133 of the British North America Act. This is intolerable, however, for all Canadians must accept the original pact; they must accept English and French as the only official languages of Canada.
In any re-planning of Confederation so as to strengthen Canadian unity, these people, their languages and their cultures, must be given due consideration. Now what does that mean? First, these people are Canadians. Once an immigrant becomes a Canadian citizen he has all the rights of Canadian citizenship, and there are no second-rate Canadians. Second, the language that these people speak must hold a position different to that of the two official languages. Any language spoken by a substantial group of Canadian citizens can hardly be termed a foreign language and certainly not a second-rate language. They might be termed "unofficial" as distinct from "official" languages, and their position should be related to the main function which they perform - the preservation of the culture of the ethnic groups.
We maintain, therefore, that provision should be made for the teaching of these languages on an optional basis at the time when a child at the high school level is given options of selecting other cultural subjects.
If we are going to reach an agreement in Canada, and that's what we are here for, we have to have a certain amount of give and take. Let us accept that both French and English are our basic languages and that both should be used as languages on instruction. Let us consider the cultural values of Canada's ethnic languages. Let us give our young people the opportunity, at the high school level, or above the high school level, to study those languages as cultural subjects. If we all agree to that extent, then we should reach reasonable compromises throughout the whole of Canada. That is the position I take.
Mr. Chairman, members of the panel, ladies and gentlemen. Comme l'a dit Saint-Exupéry "La terre nous apprend plus long sur nous que tous les livres puisqu'elle nous résiste. L'homme se décovre lorsqu'il se mesure avec l'obstacle". This I have translated from the French poet: "The earth, the land, is the best teacher that we have, far better than all the books one may possess, because it offers resistance. A man finds his own ability when confronted with obstacles."
At the outset, I'd like to pay tribute to some of the contributions of the city of St. Boniface. After ten, twelve generations even, one still finds in this English and French city in the heart of Manitoba both cultures, English and French, existing side by side. The coureur de bois came here as early as 1734. The sons of La Verendrye reached the forks of the Assiniboine and the Red in 1734, paving the way for their illustrious father who arrived in 1738. Whether they landed on the shores of St. Boniface or Winnipeg, I do not know, but the passing of La Verendrye and these valiant missionaries on western soil made an indelible impression on the religion, language and culture of the West. The site of St. Boniface in the days of La Verendrye was the habitat of the Assiniboine Indians. On La Verendrye's order a fort, Fort Rouge, was built at the forks of the Assiniboine and Red. This is the beginning of the history of St. Boniface.
St. Boniface actually came into being in 1818 when, at the request of Lord Selkirk, Reverend Provencher and Dumoulin, accompanied by one Edge, arrived at the forks. This is the beginning of what one might call the French civilization of Western Canada. The first school was instituted by Reverend Provencher, who became a Bishop in 1818, and this school carried on to open up as a college, a college which became a co-founder of the University of Manitoba in 1875. We can be proud of many other aspects of the cultural life of the twin city to the east. Permit me to mention the architecture which one finds in St. Boniface-the Cathedral and St. Boniface College. The Cercie Moliere has made a distinct contribution, not only to Manitoba but to all of Canada from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic. In many other fields - in music, in the fine arts - the people of St. Boniface have made a distinct contribution.
This is all part of our culture. It is important that we should define the meaning of the word "culture". First, culture means the improvement, refinement or advancement of the intellect by study, application and attention. It further implies the devotion of a person to study, to the pursuit of additional knowledge in the field of science and many other fields. It embraces riot only the literature of a people but comprises many other aspects of life, such as music, fine arts, sculpture and agriculture. Culture, then, to put it simply, is the total expression of a civilization.
Biculturalism implies two cultures. In Canada, in my estimation, the first step that we must achieve is to recognize the two cultures in the ten provinces. To some people biculturalism signifies possession of two cultures by each individual. This is indeed very difficult, because normally a person starts off in life with one language and one culture, and it is upon these he is required to graft second language and culture. Bilingualism implies that a person speaks and understands two languages; in Canada this means the two official languages.
I don't believe that it is necessary for me to define the importance of our duality, the importance of our bilingual character. It gives us a chance to be represented wherever one of the two languages predominates. This is true in both national and international affairs and concerns such fields as trade and other economic aspects. In this sense, our duality often brings a double identity. It gives us greater importance, and these two languages facilitate communication with the people of North Africa, South Africa and some of the countries in South America.
Canada appears to be moving head-on into a period which may decide just what our country is, or whether it is to be much of anything at all. To reshape our structure, a dialogue between the two dominant groups is desperately needed. The 1867 basis of Confederation hasn't worked out to all the participants' satisfaction. Being citizens of a country with two official languages and two cultures, we must work together to keep it that way. To create a new climate of thought, we must start in our schools, colleges and universities, by teaching geography and by giving the latter subject its full meaning. This study of geography will reveal the richness of nature, with its rivers, mountains, flowers, birds, and wildlife. This study of nature will demonstrate how fortunate we are to have such a rich and prosperous country. This would create more pride in ourselves, more pride in our children, more confidence to establish and stand on our feet as true Canadians. Patriotism means the love and loyal support of our native land. A more complete study of our history would intensify the patriotic sentiments of Canadians. This would embrace the love of God, the love and respect of our parents, our neighbours, our fellow Canadians and the love of our native land.
The leaders of this country, including all of you, must become dedicated to the necessity of having, creating, retaining and maintaining a united Canada. This noble conviction should be transmitted to the rest of the nation, to the mass that we too often forget, to the mass of our fellow Canadians, by means of our media of communications: radio, press, magazines, periodicals, etc. The fundamentals of patriotism should be systematically taught in our teachers' colleges, universities, schools, parent-teacher associations and so on. We must convey this message at all levels and use those responsible for our education throughout their various associations to perform this important duty. Too often we forget that patriotism is a virtue that embraces an element of charity, an element of justice - namely, the love of our neighbours, and justice with respect to minorities. A complete and comprehensive knowledge of the physical and geographical formation of our country is of vital importance for the development of this understanding. A closer look at what we possess would help many of our educators, teachers, professionals and future businessmen to rediscover Canada as it is. This would, in my estimation, create a better climate of understanding. The history of our past would bring lessons of courage, would lead to tenacity in our work, and patience when confronted with trying situations. The teaching of citizenship should include a well documented presentation of the great values of Canada and the responsibilities a citizen has towards his country. The teaching of both languages across Canada would definitely change the pattern of our two solitudes. We must realize that language is the vehicle of a civilization. Rejecting one of the two official languages demonstrates that we no longer wish to retain the civilization it transmits and conveys. When a person abandons certain ways of living, it is because he is no longer in agreement with the human ideals it transmits. As stated previously, the teaching of both languages on an optional basis would definitely be a great step towards stabilizing and uniting the nation.
In the past, many people in the United States, as well as in Canada, have neglected and even refused to learn a second language. This attitude of mind has changed. In recent years people travel a lot more, and in the jet age the world is a lot smaller. We should, therefore, endeavour to offer a second language to all Canadians, many of whom will study a second language, not as a privilege by right, but to improve their culture. Prejudice sometimes prevents us from seeing the cultural horizons that the knowledge of languages would bring about. In Manitoba we have the opportunity of becoming a seed-bed, a laboratory, for a new kind of Canada. It is an opportunity for creating, not a country of violence, a country of brooding resentments, but, one of the great cultural centres of the world. I would like to close with a proverb: "Where there is a will there is a way". "Vouloir c'est Pouvoir", comme on le dit si bien en français.
Manitobans have a real opportunity, a golden opportunity, Thank you.
The enormous sadness of the past five days has brought us chastened to our conversations tonight on this Canadian racial problem. (The speaker is alluding to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Editor's note.) It has brought me to this meeting with a humility that I know has been missing from my deliberations on this subject in the past. Short days ago I knew what I felt and where I stood on a host of questions in which I have been interested for a long time - French-English relations, federal-provincial relations, Canadian-U.S. relations, the cold war, the Atlantic community, Canadianism, Americanism and North Americanism. Tonight, after five days of almost unspeakable catharsis, I am not sure what I want to say. I am certain that I share in that feeling with every person in this room. I am no historian, and many of you in this company are historians, but I feel, as many of you undoubtedly do, an all-pervading sense of history this week. I feel, as someone has written in these past few bitter days, that we are living through the greatest single watershed of the twentieth century. It is inordinately fitting, perhaps, that the members of the Manitoba Historical Society should be meeting in such an hour and with a Canadian social problem as its subject.
I have been asked to present an English view on the problem of biculturalism, but I cannot presume to speak for the Anglo-Manitoban community. There are many persons here who are far better qualified than I to do so. What I can do, perhaps, is very briefly explain my own concept of that English view. It has been my privilege during the past few months to participate in several official conversations of this nature on the subject of biculturalism in Canada in general, and in Manitoba in particular. Although during these conversations I held various preconceived notions, I was not rigidly dogmatic, and now, a year later, I feel that these conversations with my fellow Manitobans of diverse racial extractions have taught me a great deal.
I have been asked whether there is a distinctively English group in Manitoba. The answer to this is, of course, an emphatic yes. Are not the Ukrainians, Icelanders and Germans in Manitoba also part of the English group? No, not the Ukrainians, definitely, and not the Germans, although there is no discrimination against the Germans. Our Ukrainian fellow Manitobans tell us that there is considerable discrimination against them, mostly on the level of their names, mostly in the area where they are seeking employment with Crown Corporations. On what basis does one determine these groupings? If it is by ethnic origins, no matter how remote, when does one cease to be a hyphenated Canadian? If it is by mother tongue and place of birth, are there two predominant groups, or three large groups? The answer is that there are three large groups in Canada, but only two in Manitoba - the English and the Ukrainian. The average English Manitoban isn't even aware the French exist.
Are there any privileges accorded to the English under the British North America Act, the Manitoba Act and the basic assumptions that seem to underlie all national life? Yes, I think there are certainly such privileges. They are not written, but they are implicit and assumed on the part of the English-speaking element in the homogeneous Canadian population.
Is the English group distinguishable from other North American English-speaking people-for example, from Americans or pre-1949 Newfoundlanders? Once again my answer to this is in the affirmative. It is said that the English-speaking group is indistinguishable from Americans, but then, what is an American? Actually, the English-speaking group in Canada, the English-speaking Canadian, is as distinguishable in the North American whole as is, for example, a Texan, a Southerner or a New Englander. We all have our regional nuances, our regional approaches, our regional vernacular; we are all distinguishable one from the other. These are questions, however, which require much more deliberation than the moment or two which I have given them this evening, and they are questions which perhaps we could discuss and examine more fully at another session.
For the present, I have some things to say about one or two specific areas which we investigated during a recent seminar held in Winnipeg by the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews. This seminar was convened by that body and entitled "The Manitoba Question", and it is from that seminar that I draw most of the remarks I'd like to make tonight.
At that conference, held early this fall, I stated that the root of the friction between Franco-Manitobans and English-speaking Manitobans lies in the English-speaking Manitoban's reduction of French to second-class status as a language. It lies in the position, or lack of position, of the French language in our school system. Those of us who have participated in conversations of this nature during the past year or two know that the Manitoba problem can be solved. The solution consists almost entirely in changing the position of the French language in our public schools.
The Franco-Manitoban feels that the spirit, if not the letter, of both The British North America Act and the Manitoba Act was abrogated, first in the 1890s and then finally in 1916, when English was made the single official language of instruction in Manitoba schools and the French-speaking Manitobans lost their original right to preserve their language in the classroom. The Franco-Manitoban's justifiable desire to have his language restored in the classroom, and his interest in having it made available to those non-French Manitobans who want it, is the heart of the Manitoba question. It behooves us in Manitoba to apply our charity and our wisdom to this grievance now that it has been clearly defined for us. Definition, of course, was for a long time the main problem. To a certain extent it still is. Unfortunately, the French grievance has not been articulated publicly or disseminated widely. Unfortunately, too, the English view in Manitoba does not really encompass the French fact. As far as the average Anglo-Manitoban is concerned the French problem means the Quebec problem and Quebec alone. The average Anglo-Manitoban is rarely aware that he has French-speaking people among his community, let alone a French problem. He is far more conscious of his Ukrainian fellow countrymen and his German fellow countrymen. This may be justifiable statistically but cannot be justified on constitutional grounds. Constitutionally we are a country of two great cultures, two great historical factions - French and English. Alas, one could never prove it in the English community here.
The Franco-Manitoban is still not really articulate in his grievance. He is relying on the Anglo-Manitoban to do it for him, and I think it is the responsibility of the Anglo-Manitoban to do so. The voice of the third dynamic force now cries out in anxiety, when in truth there is no more reason for such anxiety today than there has been in the past, and I suggest that we should not become bogged down in dialogues about multiculturalism lest our efforts become too diffuse. Let us put first things first, and the first thing is the Canadian emergency, the struggle between the French-speaking and the English-speaking Canadians. We have a magnificent French history and French tradition in Manitoba. I shall feel the poorer for it if we do not have the opportunity to share in it fully.
At that seminar last fall, the one to which I referred earlier, we drafted five resolutions at the close of our two days of deliberations. We resolved the following: that the current system of French-English used as official languages by the federal administration be retained throughout Canada; that all provinces follow this example in all official and legal matters; that English and French shall have equal status as languages of instruction in Manitoba as an example to other provinces; that any child in Manitoba shall have equal opportunity to learn both English and French; that wherever possible and practical, adequate opportunity be afforded for students to learn other languages and cultures which are part of the Canadian heritage. I helped formulate and draft those resolutions. I subscribed to them then, and I subscribe to them tonight.
In conclusion. I would like to say that whatever else we bring, or fail to bring to our study of the racial or cultural emergency in Canada, we must bring respect for the whole human race. We must eschew acrimony, truculence, narrow pride and politics. Of all the writings of the past five tragic days on this continent some of the finest were quoted by New York Times reporter James Reston. Reston was writing about the spirit of violence abroad in the land, in the United States, about the evil of the past few months, about the assassination of Medgar Evers, about the church bombing in Birmingham where the four Negro girls died, and finally about the assassination or, as an Episcopalian minister has put it, the "crucifixion" of President John Kennedy. Reston was asking, "Whither America? Whither the people of America in such a context of social violence," and at this point he quoted Walter Lippmann as follows:
To paraphrase those words and make them applicable to us in Canada at this time, I think it can be said that the survival of our bilingual, bicultural nation, our great Canadian people, is dependent upon our early traditions, not only the central religious traditions of western civilization, but the traditions of French and English cultures from which we spring and from which we must go forward.
Page revised: 22 May 2010