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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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“Like a Thread of Gold”. Tracing Alfred Perry’s Lifelong Engagement with Montreal’s Politics of Ethnic Confrontation (Dan Horner)

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“Like a Thread of Gold”

Tracing Alfred Perry’s Lifelong Engagement with Montreal’s Politics of Ethnic Confrontation

Dan HORNER

On April 6, 1900, the Canadian Journal of Commerce published a rousing obituary for a man whose “devotion to public duty was a ruling passion”. A man who “was often misunderstood, because so few walked on the same high plane of unselfishness, and so few shared his ideals of the needs of a great city. Through the web of Canadian life”, the tribute exclaimed with breathless pomp, “the career of Alfred Perry runs like a thread of gold”. The tone of Alfred Perry’s obituary, printed in a leading organ of Montreal’s commercial elite, was meant to confirm the deceased’s place in the pantheon of great civic leaders. It highlights the philanthropic service that consumed Perry in his twilight years, when he helped establish the Protestant Hospital for the Insane with a group of local clergymen.1 The obituary also notes that he had played a leading role in the development of Montreal’s fire brigade. The details surrounding the early years of Perry’s life are sketched out in only the vaguest detail. The obituary hints at his “daring exploits” and notes that he possessed “a touch of romance in his nature which had a too narrow sphere for development or exercise in a prosaic age”. It concludes with a pointed remark about the importance of a community’s collective past: “It would be a reproach...

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