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Saguenay River: A World Apart

The stronghold of Quebec nationalism

More on the Saguenay River:
Saguenay River:
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A World Apart:
The stronghold of Quebec nationalism

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Rumours of More:
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Tide of Destruction:
Flash flood ravages a valley

Fiercely independent, self-reliant, and hardworking, the population of the Saguenay Region is more than 98-percent Francophone (French-speaking) and less than two-percent Anglophone (English-speaking). The result is a valley culture, society, and economy that has no strong ties to other parts of Canada outside of Quebec itself.

Of all of Quebec's region, the Saguenay has most consistently voted for independence in elections and referendums. It supplies the rest of Quebec and Canada with a steady stream of political leaders committed to making the province a sovereign country, separate from the rest of Canada.

Saguenay region journalist, Yvon Bernier, was asked to explain the region's nationalist fervour. The English translation follows his original French text.

Indépendance: objectif clé des irréductibles “Gaulois”
Par Yvon Bernier

Reconnu comme le château-fort du Parti québécois, il est pratiquement assuré que la région du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean accordera pour une troisième fois d'affilée un large appui à l'objectif ultime de ce parti de “faire l'indépendance” dans le cadre du prochain référendum québécois prévu d'ici l'an 2000.

Le 20 mai 1980 les Jeannois et Saguenéens avaient dit oui majoritairement au projet d'indépendance mis de l'avant par feu René Lévesque. Même si la défaite fut crève-coeur, les irréductibles "Gaulois" ont su attendre la seconde chance de donner naissance à un pays. Celle-ci s'est présentée à la fin d'octobre 1995, et a donné lieu alors que le gouvernement québécois était dirigé par Jacques Parizeau, à une demi-victoire avancent les uns, à une demi-défaite soutiennent les autres.

Devant ce résultat des plus mitigés, les gens de ce coin de pays se sont promis que "la prochaine fois sera définitivement la bonne."

Cette farouche volonté d'indépendance est fondée sur divers facteurs géographiques, sociaux, et culturels.

Il faut savoir que la région du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean a été pendant longtemps isolée du reste de la province de Québec par la chaîne de montagnes des Laurentides et qu'elle a appris sur tous les aspects ou presque à ne compter que sur elle-même. Les habitants du "Royaume du Saguenay" vivent également dans un climat de type nordique rigoureux, propre à forger le caractère. Par ailleurs l'ensemble des communautés qui occupent ce territoire sont presqu'à 99 pour cent francophones et catholiques.

Les gens habitent ce territoire depuis à peine plus de 150 ans mais leurs racines y sont profondes. Cette vitalité régionale se manifeste également de façon remarquable en dehors du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. Plus que tout autre région périphérique du Québec, elle a fourni à ce jour aux grands centres urbains un nombre marquant de personnalités.

Au plan politique, la région a fourni bon nombre de politiciens qui occupent des postes clés.

Le premier ministre du Québec Lucien Bouchard lui même est natif de St-Coeur-de-Marie, Lac Saint-Jean.

Independence: key goal of these diehard “Gauls”
By Yvon Bernier

Recognized as the stronghold of the Parti Québécois, it is practically certain that the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region will, for a third time in a row, show wide support for the party's ultimate objective of independence at the time of the next Quebec referendum which is expected to happen before the year 2000.

On May 20, 1980, the majority of the people of Lac Saint-Jean and the Saguenay said oui to the plan for independence put forward by the late René Lévesque. Even if the overall defeat was heartbreaking, these unshakable “Gauls” wait for a second chance to give birth to a country. This chance came at the end of October 1995 and gave the government led by then Premier, Jacques Parizeau, what some called a semi-victory, and others termed a semi-defeat.

Faced with this unclear result, people of this corner of the country promised themselves that the next time they would win, “once and for all.”

This determined desire for independence is based on several geographic, social and cultural factors.

The Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region was for a long time isolated from the rest of Quebec by the Laurentian mountains and learned to rely on itself for most things. The residents of the "Kingdom of the Saguenay" lived in a rigorous nordic climate which builds a common social character. Finally, the communities of the region are nearly 99 percent French-speaking and Catholic.

These people have occupied the region for barely 150 years but their roots are deep. The vitality of the region extends beyond it. More than any other outlying region, it is the origin of many Quebec celebrities.

Politically, the region has provided a good many politicians who hold important positions. The Premier of Quebec, Lucien Bouchard, is himself originally from the Lac Saint-Jean town of St-Coeur-de-Marie.




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