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Engaging with Diversity

Multidisciplinary Reflections on Plurality from Quebec

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Edited By Stéphan Gervais, Raffaele Iacovino and Mary-Anne Poutanen

Contributed by leading scholars of Quebec Studies, both emerging and established, the 30 essays of this comprehensive collection offer a multidisciplinary survey of the study of diversity in Quebec over space and time. The volume is organized around a variety of themes through which Quebec’s plural reality is expressed, including conceptual, historical and contemporary approaches, covering a wide range of social and economic cleavages, identity markers, political contestation and, broadly, the lived experiences of Quebecers negotiating difference over time. In an environment increasingly demarcated by conflicts around values and cultural and social practices, this collection hopes to contribute to broadening the spectrum of voices to the current debate, adding an inclusive reflection to a conversation that has only intensified over the last decade. Quebec as a pluri-national and multi-ethnic society has been and remains a great laboratory to study and to test public policies on ethnic diversity. It allows us to identify the tensions and to evaluate the balance between the majority and the minority; and between settler society and indigenous nations, in conceptualizing and finding a normative consensus around the configuration of collective rights. In short, the contributions in this volume seek to illustrate how pluralism has and continues to constitute the lifeblood of belonging in Quebec.

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Introduction. Indigenous Peoples in Quebec (Denys Delâge)

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Introduction

Indigenous Peoples in Quebec

Denys DELÂGE

It may be said that all of Quebec’s colonial history (and that of Canada) comes down to a process by which colonizers progressively dispossessed Indigenous peoples of their lands for the purposes of colonization. In full possession of an entire continent in the sixteenth century, Indigenous peoples in the twenty-first century are now confined to reserves, where the rights to the very land beneath their feet are no longer their own. Under colonial “laws of the land” the descendants of colonizers were legally recognized, but since Indigenous peoples’ lands were expropriated, their legal rights have been defined according to “blood quantum” (the status of each Indigenous person being determined by how their parents and grandparents married). Is this a blind spot in Quebec’s (and Canada’s) official history? Yes, certainly from an Indigenous perspective, as Isabelle St-Amand explains in “Land, Resistance and Indigenous Filmmaking in Quebec”.

When we talk of Indigenous peoples, what exactly do we mean? When colonizers gave them the names we have come to know, they imposed their own exonyms, ignoring existing endonyms. This erroneous system of classification caused them to underestimate broader linguistic Indigenous groupings and networks of alliances, as shown by John E. Bishop and Kevin Brosseau in “I Speak Cree, Not Innu: Ethnically United, Ethnonymically Divided”. Colonial powers also dispossessed Indigenous nations of their political institutions and instead “magnanimously” strove to free those they called...

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