Thank you; you are a little late to the party, and you are still
missing the mark a lot of the time, but in the past few days, you have
published some not entirely terrible articles and op-eds about what’s
happening in Quebec right now. Welcome to our movement.
Some of you have even started mentioning that when people are rounded
up and arrested each night, they aren’t all criminals or rioters. Some
of you have admitted that perhaps limiting our freedom of speech and
assembly is going a little bit too far. Some of you are no longer
publishing lies about the popular support that you seemed to think our
government had. Not all of you, mind you, but some of you are waking up.
That said, here is what I have not seen you publish yet: stories
about joy; about togetherness; about collaboration; about solidarity.
You write about our anger, and yes, we are angry. We are angry at our
government, at our police and at you. But none of you are succeeding in
conveying what it feels like when you walk down the streets of Montreal
right now, which is, for me at least, an overwhelming sense of joy and
News coverage of Quebec almost always focuses on division: English
vs. French; Quebec-born vs. immigrant; etc. This is the narrative that
has shaped how people see us as a province, whether or not it is fair.
But this is not what I feel right now when I walk down the street. At
8pm, I rush out of the house with a saucepan and a ladle, and as I walk
to meet my fellow protesters, I hear people emerge from their balconies
and the music starts. If you do not live here, I wish I could properly
convey to you what it feels like; the above video is a start. It is
magic. It starts quietly, a suggestion here and there, and it builds.
Everybody on the street begins to smile. I get there, and we all—young
and old, children and students and couples and retirees and workers and
weird misfits and dogs and, well, neighbours—we all grin the widest
grins you have ever seen while dancing around and making as much noise
as possible. We are almost ecstatic with the joy of letting loose like
this, of voicing our resistance to a government that seeks to silence
us, and of being together like this.
I have lived in my neighbourhood for five years now, and this is the
most I have ever felt a part of the community; the lasting impact that
these protests will have on how people relate to each other in the city
is deep and incredible. I was born and raised in Montreal, and I have
always loved this city, I have always told people that it is the best
city in the world, but I have truly never loved it as much as I do right
The first night that I went to a casseroles (pots and pans)
demonstration, at the centre of the action—little children ecstatically
blowing whistles, a young couple handing out extra pots and pans to
passers-by, a yoga teacher who paused his class to have everyone join—I
saw a bemused couple, banging away, but seemingly confused about
something. When we finished, they asked me, “how did you find us?” I
replied that I had checked the map that had been posted online of
rendez-vous spots, and theirs was the nearest to my house. “Last night
we were all alone,” they told me. They had no idea it had been
advertized online. This is what our revolution looks like: someone had
clearly ridden around our neighbourhood, figured out where people were
protesting, and marked them for the rest of us. This is a revolution of
collaboration. Of solidarity.
The next night the crowd had doubled. Tonight we will be even more.
I come home from these protests euphoric. The first night I returned,
I sat down on my couch and I burst into tears, as the act of resisting,
loudly, with my neighbours, so joyfully, had released so much tension
that I had been carrying around with me, fearing our government, fearing
arrest, fearing for the future. I felt lighter. Every night, I exchange
stories with friends online and find out what happened in their
neighbourhoods. These are the kinds of things we say to each other: “if I
loved my city any more right now, my heart would burst.” We use the
word “love” a whole lot. We feel empowered. We feel connected. We feel
like we are going to win.
Why don’t you write about this? This incredible feeling? Another
example I can give you is this very blog. Myself and a few friends began
it as a way of disseminating information in English about what was
happening here in Quebec, and within hours, literally hours, volunteers
were writing me offering to help. Every day, people submit translations
to me anonymously; I have no idea who they are, they just want to do
something. They come from everywhere. They translate what they think is
important to get out there into the world. People email me corrections,
too. They email me advice. They email me encouragement. This blog runs
on solidarity and utter human kindness.
This is what Quebec looks like right now. Every night is teargas and
riot cops, but it is also joy, laughter, kindness, togetherness, and
beautiful music. Our hearts are bursting. We are so proud of each other;
of the spirit of Quebec and its people; of our ability to resist, and
our ability to collaborate.
Why aren’t you writing about this? Does joy not sell as well as
violence? Does collaboration not sell as well as confrontation? You can
have your cynicism; our revolution is sincere.
The Administrator of Translating the printemps érable.