Quebecers or Quebeckers (Québécois in French, and sometimes also in English) are people associated with Quebec. The term is most often used in reference to French-Canadian descendants of the first settlers of Canada, though it may also be used to describe Quebec residents of other origins, especially if they are French-speaking.
Self-identification as Québécois became dominant in the 1960s; prior to this, the Francophone people of Quebec identified themselves as French Canadians. A majority in the House of Commons of Canada in 2006 approved a motion tabled by Prime MinisterStephen Harper, which stated that the Québécois are a nation within a united Canada. Harper later elaborated that the motion's definition of Québécois relies on personal decisions to self-identify as Québécois, and therefore is a personal choice. However, Gilles Duceppe, the leader of the Bloc Québécois, a sovereigntist party which then held the majority of seats in Quebec, disputed this view, stating that the Bloc considered the term "Québécois" to include all inhabitants of Quebec and accusing the Conservatives of wishing to ascribe an ethnic meaning to it.
The dictionary Le Petit Robert, published in France, states that the adjective québécois, in addition to its territorial meaning, may refer specifically to francophone or French Canadian culture in Quebec. The dictionary gives as examples cinéma québécois and littérature québécoise.
However, an ethnic or linguistic sense is absent from "Le Petit Larousse, also published in France, as well as from French dictionaries published in Canada such as Le Dictionnaire québécois d'aujourd'hui and Le Dictionnaire du français Plus, which indicate instead Québécois francophone "francophone Quebecer" in the linguistic sense.
As shown by the 2016 Statistics Canada census, 58.3% of residents of Quebec identify their ethnicity as Canadian[a], 23.5% as French and 0.4% as Acadian. Roughly 2.3% of residents, or 184,005 people, describe their ethnicity as Québécois.
The term became more common in English as Québécois largely replacing French Canadian as an expression of cultural and national identity among French Canadians living in Quebec during the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s. The predominant French Canadian nationalism and identity of previous generations was based on the protection of the French language, the Roman Catholic Church, and Church-run institutions across Canada and in parts of the United States. In contrast, the modern Québécois identity is secular and based on a social democratic ideal of an active Quebec government promoting the French language and French-speaking culture in the arts, education, and business within the Province of Quebec. Politically, this resulted in a push towards more autonomy for Quebec and an internal debate on Quebec independence and identity that continues to this day. The emphasis on the French language and Quebec autonomy means that French-speakers across Canada now self-identify more specifically with provincial or regional identity-tags, such as acadienne, or franco-canadienne, franco-manitobaine, franco-ontarienne or fransaskoise. Terms such as Franco-Ontarian, acadian and Franco-Manitoban are still predominant. Francophones and anglophones use many terms when discussing issues of francophone linguistic and cultural identity in English.
The political shift towards a new Quebec nationalism in the 1960s led to Québécois increasingly referring to provincial institutions as being national. This was reflected in the change of the provincial Legislative Assembly to National Assembly in 1968. Nationalism reached an apex the 1970s and 1990s, with contentious constitutional debates resulting in close to half of all of French-speaking Québécois seeking recognition of nation status through tight referendums on Quebec sovereignty in 1980 and 1995. Having lost both referendums, the sovereigntist Parti Québécois government renewed the push for recognition as a nation through symbolic motions that gained the support of all parties in the National Assembly. They affirmed the right to determine the independent status of Quebec. They also renamed the area around Quebec City the Capitale-Nationale (national capital) region and renamed provincial parks Parcs Nationaux (national parks). In opposition in October 2003, the Parti Québécois tabled a motion that was unanimously adopted in the National Assembly affirming that the Quebec people formed a nation. Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe scheduled a similar motion in the House of Commons for November 23, 2006, that would have recognized "Quebecers as a nation". Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper tabled the Québécois nation motion the day before the Bloc Québécois resolution came to a vote. The English version changed the word Quebecer to Québécois and added "within a united Canada" at the end of the Bloc motion.
The "Québécois nation" was recognized by the House of Commons of Canada on November 27, 2006. The Prime Minister specified that the motion used the "cultural" and "sociological" as opposed to the "legal" sense of the word "nation". According to Harper, the motion was of a symbolic political nature, representing no constitutional change, no recognition of Quebec sovereignty, and no legal change in its political relations within the federation. The Prime Minister has further elaborated, stating that the motion's definition of Québécois relies on personal decisions to self-identify as Québécois, and therefore is a personal choice.
Despite near-universal support in the House of Commons, several important dissenters criticized the motion. Intergovernmental Affairs minister Michael Chong resigned from his position and abstained from voting, arguing that this motion was too ambiguous and had the potential of recognizing a destructive ethnic nationalism in Canada.Liberals were the most divided on the issue and represented 15 of the 16 votes against the motion. Liberal MP Ken Dryden summarized the view of many of these dissenters, maintaining that it was a game of semantics that cheapened issues of national identity. A survey by Leger Marketing in November 2006 showed that Canadians were deeply divided on this issue. When asked if Québécois are a nation, only 53 per cent of Canadians agreed, 47 per cent disagreed, with 33 per cent strongly disagreeing; 78 per cent of French-speaking Canadians agreed that Québécois are a nation, compared with 38 per cent of English-speaking Canadians. As well, 78 per cent of 1,000 Québécois polled thought that Québécois should be recognized as a nation.
Québécois in census and ethnographic studies
The Québécois self-identify as an ethnic group in both the English and French versions of the Canadian census and in demographic studies of ethnicity in Canada.
In the 2016 census, 74,575 chose Québécois as one of multiple responses with 119,985 choosing it as a single response (194,555 as a combined response).
In the 2001 Census of Canada, 98,670 Canadians, or just over 1% of the population of Quebec identified "Québécois" as their ethnicity, ranking "Québécois" as the 37th most common response. These results were based on a question on residents in each household in Canada: "To which ethnic or cultural group(s) did this person's ancestors belong?", along with a list of sample choices ("Québécois" did not appear among the various sample choices). The ethnicity "Canadien" or Canadian, did appear as an example on the questionnaire, and was selected by 4.9 million people or 68.2% of the Quebec population.
In the more detailed Ethnic Diversity Survey,
Québécois was the most common ethnic identity in Quebec, reported by 37% of
Quebec's population aged 15 years and older, either as their only identity or alongside
other identities. The survey, based on interviews, asked the following questions: "1) I would now like to ask you about your ethnic ancestry, heritage or background. What were the ethnic or cultural origins of your ancestors? 2) In addition to "Canadian", what were the other ethnic or cultural origins of your ancestors on first coming to North America?" This survey did not list possible choices of ancestry and permitted multiple answers.
In census ethnic surveys, French-speaking Canadians identify their ethnicity most often as French, Canadien, Québécois, or French Canadian, with the latter three referred to by Jantzen (2005) as "French New World" ancestries because they originate in Canada. Jantzen (2005) distinguishes the English Canadian, meaning "someone whose family has been in Canada for multiple generations", and the French Canadien, used to refer to descendants of the original settlers of New France in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Those reporting "French New World" ancestries overwhelmingly had ancestors that went back at least 4 generations in Canada: specifically, 90% of Québécois traced their ancestry back this far. Fourth generation Canadiens and Québécois showed considerable attachment to their ethno-cultural group, with 70% and 61% respectively reporting a strong sense of belonging.
The generational profile and strength of identity of French New World ancestries contrast with those of British or Canadian ancestries, which represent the largest ethnic identities in Canada. Although deeply rooted Canadians express a deep attachment to their ethnic identity, most English-speaking Canadians of British ancestry generally cannot trace their ancestry as far back in Canada as French-speakers. As a result, their identification with their ethnicity is weaker tending to have a more broad based cultural identification: for example, only 50% of third generation "Canadians" strongly identify as such, bringing down the overall average. The survey report notes that 80% of Canadians whose families had been in Canada for three or more generations reported "Canadian and provincial or regional ethnic identities". These identities include "Québécois" (37% of Quebec population), "Acadian" (6% of Atlantic provinces) and "Newfoundlander" (38% of Newfoundland and Labrador).
Le Québec aux Québécois ("Quebec for Québécois", or "Quebec for Quebecers"): slogan sometimes chanted at Quebec nationalist rallies or protests. This slogan can be controversial, as it might be interpreted both as a call for a Quebec controlled by Québécois pure laine, with possible xenophobic connotations, or as a call for a Quebec controlled by the inhabitants of the province of Quebec, and free from outside interference.
^"Quebecker, Quebecer, Québécois". TERMIUM Writing Tips. Public Works and Government Services Canada. 2012-02-03. Archived from the original on 2012-05-26. Retrieved 2012-04-20. A French-speaking Quebecker is often referred to as a Québécois (masculine) or Québécoise (feminine) written with two accented é’s, although some editorial styles prefer none.
^The form Québecois (fem.: Québecoise) – with one acute accenté – is valid in French, and appears in English publications (e.g., Canadian Oxford Dictionary (ISBN0-19-541816-6; p. 1265)). Yet, in the entry "Quebecker, Quebecer, Québécois(e), Franco-, French Canadian" in the Oxford Guide to Canadian English Usage. (ISBN0-19-541619-8; Fee, Margery & McAlpine, Janice; Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1997; p. 405-6): "... note that Québécois(e) requires either two accents or none. Often anglophone writers omit the second accent in Québécois, probably because Québec has only one accent and because in English Québécois is usually pronounced KAY beck wah, not KAY BAY kwah." As well, "[s]ometimes English writers use Québécois, without a final e, to refer to a woman; in French, this e would be required."
^"Québécois". Canadian Oxford Dictionary. "a francophone native or inhabitant of Quebec"
^In entry "Quebecker, Quebecer, Québécois(e), Franco-, French Canadian". In Oxford Guide to Canadian English Usage. (ISBN0-19-541619-8) Fee, Margery & McAlpine, Janice. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1997; p. 405-6: "The French words Québécois and Québécoise (feminine) are also frequently used in English, but generally only to refer to the French-speaking residents of Quebec."
^Editing Canadian English, 2nd ed. (ISBN1-55199-045-8) Cragg, Catherine, ed., et al.; Editors Association of Canada. Toronto: Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 2000; p. 230 (item 12.125): "A Quebecker (preferable to "Quebecer") is a person of or from Quebec province; a Québécois(e) is a French Canadian of or from Quebec province (see: French Canadians). As an adjective in English material, usually capped, as in Québécois cooking."
^"Québécois". Gage Canadian Dictionary. Toronto, Canada: Canada Publishing Corporation. 1983. "a Quebecer, especially a Francophone."
^"quebecois. (adj.). WordNet 3.0". Princeton University. 2006. Archived from the original on 2008-12-19. Retrieved 2008-12-21. adjective 1. of or relating to Quebec (especially to the French speaking inhabitants or their culture)
^Churchill, Stacy (2003). "Linguistic and Cultural Identities in Canada"(PDF). Language Education, Canadian Civic Identity, and the Identity of Canadians. Council of Europe, Language Policy Division. pp. 8–11. Archived(PDF) from the original on 2017-08-09. Retrieved 2021-09-05. French speakers usually refer to their own identities with adjectives such as québécoise, acadienne, or franco-canadienne, or by some term referring to a provincial linguistic minority such as francomanitobaine, franco-ontarienne or fransaskoise.
^Denis, Angèle (2001). "Corridors: Language as Trap and Meeting Ground". In Adrienne Shadd; Carl E. James (eds.). Talking about Identity: Encounters in Race, Ethnicity and Language. Toronto: Between the Lines. pp. 133–146. ISBN1-896357-36-9. Archived from the original on 2021-10-29. Retrieved 2021-09-05. The latent nationalism that is the corollary of folklorization is also visible in the persistence of Canadians in designating Québécois, Acadiens, and Fransaskois as French Canadian. Most Québécois speak French.
^Bédard, Guy (2001). "Québécitude: An Ambiguous Identity". In Adrienne Shadd; Carl E. James (eds.). Talking about Identity: Encounters in Race, Ethnicity and Language. Toronto: Between the Lines. pp. 28–32. ISBN1-896357-36-9. Archived from the original on 2021-10-29. Retrieved 2021-09-05. In short, apart from the historical and cultural specificities, the process by which the Québécois identity was born was not much different from the formation of other community identities around the world.
^Ship, Susan J. (2001). "Jewish, Canadian or Québécois: Notes on a Diasporic Identity". In Adrienne Shadd; Carl E. James (eds.). Talking about Identity: Encounters in Race, Ethnicity and Language. Toronto: Between the Lines. pp. 20–27. ISBN1-896357-36-9. Archived from the original on 2021-10-29. Retrieved 2021-09-05. ... the Anglo-American culture of Canada; the French Québécois culture of Quebec; and the distinct cosmopolitan multiculture of Montreal.
^"Census questionnaire (long form)"(PDF). Archived from the original(PDF) on 2008-04-09. To which ethnic or cultural group(s) did this person's ancestors belong? For example, Canadian, French, English, Chinese, Italian, German, Scottish, Irish, Cree, Micmac, Metis, Inuit (Eskimo), East Indian, Ukrainian, Dutch, polish, Portuguese, Filipino, Jewish, Greek, Jamaican, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Chilean, Somali, etc.
^"Ethnic Diversity Survey". The Daily. Statistics Canada. 2003. Archived from the original on 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2008-03-17. For example, 37% of Quebec's population aged 15 years and older reported Québécois, either as their only ethnic identity or alongside other identities.
^Jantzen (2005) Footnote 9: "These will be called "French New World" ancestries since the majority of respondents in these ethnic categories are Francophones."
^Jantzen (2005) Footnote 5: "Note that Canadian and Canadien have been separated since the two terms mean different things. In English, it usually means someone whose family has been in Canada for multiple generations. In French it is referring to "Les Habitant", settlers of New France during the 17th and 18th Century, who earned their living primarily from agricultural labour."
^Jantzen (2005): "The reporting of French New World ancestries (Canadien, Québécois, and French-Canadian) is concentrated in the 4th+ generations; 79% of French- Canadian, 88% of Canadien and 90% of Québécois are in the 4th+generations category."
^Jantzen (2005): "According to Table 3, the 4th+ generations are highest because of a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic or cultural group among those respondents reporting the New World ancestries of Canadien and Québécois."
^Jantzen (2005): For respondents of French and New World ancestries the pattern is different. Where generational data is available, it is possible to see that not all respondents reporting these ancestries report a high sense of belonging to their ethnic or cultural group. The high proportions are focused among those respondents that are in the 4th+ generations, and unlike with the British Isles example, the difference between the 2nd and 3rd generations to the 4th+ generation is more pronounced. Since these ancestries are concentrated in the 4th+ generations, their high proportions of sense of belonging to ethnic or cultural group push up the 4th+ generational results."
^Jantzen (2005): "As shown on Graph 3, over 30% of respondents reporting Canadian, British Isles or French ancestries are distributed across all four generational categories."
^Jantzen (2005): Table 3: Percentage of Selected Ancestries Reporting that Respondents have a Strong* Sense of Belonging to the Ethnic and Cultural Groups, by Generational Status, 2002 EDS"
^Claude Bélanger (2000-08-23). "The Quiet Revolution". Marionapolis College. Archived from the original on 2008-02-02. Retrieved 2008-01-31. There was no doubt that the Québécois, governed for so long by "Negro-Kings" [to use the interesting expression of André Laurendeau] in the interest of foreign powers, economical and political, had to become masters of their destiny, had to be "Maîtres chez-nous". Scads of Parti Québécois supporters were later to echo these sentiments in chanting loudly during political rallies: "Le Québec aux Québécois".
^Bédard, Guy (2001). "Québécitude: An Ambiguous Identity". In Adrienne Shadd; Carl E. James (eds.). Talking about Identity: Encounters in Race, Ethnicity and Language. Toronto: Between the Lines. p. 30. ISBN1-896357-36-9. Archived from the original on 2021-10-29. Retrieved 2021-09-05. The increasing uneasiness that I feel each time I hear nationalists say Le Québec aux Québécois illustrates this in another way. In adhering to this battle cry, indépendentistes are necessarily forced to admit that there are certain individuals whose status as residents of Quebec is not enough to qualify them as Québécois.
"Québécois". Trésor de la langue française au Québec. Département de Langues, linguistique et traduction, Faculté des Lettres, Université Laval. Archived from the original on 2008-09-21. Retrieved 2008-02-01.
"Quebecker". Trésor de la langue française au Québec. Département de Langues, linguistique et traduction, Faculté des Lettres, Université Laval. Archived from the original on 2008-09-21. Retrieved 2008-02-01.