The largest Quebec flag in history, measuring 60 by 90 feet, was unfurled Saturday on the Place des Arts esplanade, in the heart of Montreal, to celebrate the 75e anniversary of the fleur-de-lis.
“It was very important for us to mark this anniversary. Seventy-five years is not nothing. The fleurdelisé represents our past, our present, our future. It is our memory and it belongs to all Quebecers. We wanted to show off this symbol of pride, of belonging,” explained to The Press the General President of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society of Montreal, Marie-Anne Alepin.
More than 200 people helped unfurl the huge flag, designed by printer Version Image Plus in Laval, then hoist it a few meters off the ground. Singer Daniel Boucher then sang People of the country by Gilles Vigneault.
At a time when the French language is “abused in the metropolis, demonstrating the love we have for our Quebec flag is crucial,” continued Ms.me Aleppo.
“It illustrates that we must and that we can collectively take a greater interest in the protection of our French language. If today we are unveiling this immense fleur-de-lis, the largest in history, in the heart of the metropolis, where our language and our culture are the most abused, it is to send the clear message that we are determined to rock the trend,” she insisted.
Several other activities celebrating the 75e anniversary of the Fleurdelisé took place on Saturday across the province. A commemorative ceremony took place in front of the Parliament Building, in Quebec City, in the middle of the afternoon, in the presence of MNAs from different parties as well as the President of the Assembly, Nathalie Roy.
At 3:00 p.m., the flag that flew on the central tower of the Parliament Building was removed and replaced, to be kept in the archives of the National Assembly.
“It is a source of pride to celebrate our Fleurdelisé, this emblem that distinguishes us and embodies the French fact in America. Over the past 75 years, the meaning of our flag has been enriched by the events, values and dreams we have shared as a community,” said Ms.me Roy.
A declining language
The anniversary of the flag is marked as the weight of French indeed continues to decline in Quebec and across the country, while a growing number of Canadians speak a language other than French or English at home , Statistics Canada census data revealed last August. The proportion of people who reported having French as their mother tongue increased from 77.1% to 74.8% from 2016 to 2021 in Quebec. This decline can also be seen across the country, where the proportion of Francophones fell from 20.6% to 19.6% during these five years.
“Given our minority situation, we must always remain vigilant,” said CAQ MNA for Anjou–Louis-Riel, Karine Boivin Roy. “This flag truly embodies who we are, a different nation, the only French-speaking majority state in North America,” she said.
Two Bloc MPs, Denis Trudel and Mario Beaulieu, also reiterated during the ceremony that the “battle” to protect French would be “crucial” in the coming months. “The federal government is preventing us from making French our common language,” argued Mr. Beaulieu, while his colleague stressed “that we are doing what we can, in Ottawa, to protect ourselves against the onslaught of the ‘English’, calling on Quebecers to rally to the protection of French.
“We have such a beautiful flag that I would like the whole world to know it. I’ll probably be satisfied when it floats […] at the headquarters of the United Nations”, for his part launched the president of the national executive council of the Parti québécois, Jocelyn Caron, in reference to the independence of Quebec.
At the microphone, the co-spokesperson for Québec solidaire, Manon Massé, for her part joked, pointing out that “Maurice Duplessis is not really our friend, but he gave us the fleur-de-lis”. “We owe him one,” she said.
Thanks to this flag, Quebec “got rid of an important colonial system, as we got rid of the oath to the king not even a month ago,” said Ms.me Massé, under the nourished applause of the crowd.
The Liberal MP for Viau, Frantz Benjamin, argued that the presence of elected officials from all parties was “living testimony to what the flag represents in Quebec”. “It unites us, it brings us together. And we have a duty to protect it, to preserve it, ”he told the people gathered there.
On January 21, 1948, the Legislative Assembly of Quebec – which later became the National Assembly – adopted its own flag. Prime Minister Maurice Duplessis declared at the time that a flag was needed “that excludes any sign of serfdom or colonialism,” a thinly veiled allusion to the British Union Jack, which had been the country’s only official flag since the Conquest.
With the collaboration of Mylène Crête and Léa Carrier, The Press
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75th anniversary of the Fleurdelisé | The largest Quebec flag in history unfurled in Montreal
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