You kind of have to be here…

I write for a regional audience — The Sherbrooke Record, CBC Radio, Life in Quebec — and then I post what I write on this blog for the world to see. And when I do that, I realize just how specifically Quebec-oriented much of my content and references are. And when I step back even further, when I start thinking about how to make these references understandable to the rest of the world, I realize that Quebec is nuts!

Being English in Quebec provides a person with a slight immunity to the madness but only in a way that, say, you’re not at the hospital with the flu but you’re definitely running a fever. In many ways, though, it’s worse, like running a fever with multiple personality disorder.

Being English means that you’re part of a minority community in a French population, which is itself a minority community within Canada, and as an English person, you’re actually part of that national majority and so you’re sympathetic to the fact that French needs protection within the even larger entity of North America, and yet as a minority anglophone you abhor the erosion of English rights, and now everyone reading this is feverish and dizzy as well.

To fully understand the audio piece below that I recorded this week for CBC, for example, you have to understand that the Quebec Soccer Federation banned players from wearing turbans, and how this ties into Quebec’s attitude towards immigration and the province’s desire to encourage/force immigrants to buy into/not dilute French culture, as opposed to the Canadian approach which embraces multiculturalism. You have to know that a surprising number of Quebecers (far more than respondents in the rest of Canada) really did say, in a poll, that they feel their identity is threatened when they see someone wearing a turban, hijab or kippa. You have to know that when I say “Quebecers,” the implication is “French Quebecers,” which adds a hint of bigotry to my criticism and makes me as bad as those whose intolerance I criticize, and that as an anglo I feel guilty about this. You have to know that among Quebec stereotypes is the Speedo-wearing male.

I'm so sorry.

I’m so sorry.

For Quebecers, none of this subtext needs explaining because it’s part of the everyday background noise of life here in what is truly a wonderful part of the world. Honest. And we wonder why no one gets us…

Does this happen elsewhere? Are humorists in, for instance, Kentucky saying, “You’re probably not going to get this but, trust me, ’round here it’s funny as hell…”?

And so, if that hasn’t put you off, enjoy!


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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14 Responses to You kind of have to be here…

  1. Kylie says:

    Hmmm…. I guess this would sort of be like being a… no, I can’t think of anything.

  2. As you know – I’m only fascinated with Canadian Tire.

  3. Laura Lynn says:

    I missed the radio piece and now I’m out of the loop. Okay, let me see if i get it. I live in Seattle with a WHOLE mess of healthy, bike riding, eco warrior, peace now or I’ll punch you in the face, legalized pot smoking (but they don”t smoke anything,it’s bad to smoke, but it’s the principal of it) shop local, ban plastic bags, expensive coffee drinking, kayak to work, dog friendly, oyster eating, joggers who disapprove of everything I do-which is smoke, drink cheap wine and laugh at the eco friendly clothes-BUT i agree with them. I wish I were a better person. But it’s funny to watch…but mean. I feel small. But happy small. I want to join them but they won’t have me. I think you have to be handsome. Or fit. Or be able to tell where your oyster came from and own a kayak or a Cannondale bike. Darn it.

  4. Mooselicker says:

    I do think some humor is specific to certain areas. The best example I can think of is the Sascha Baron Cohen character Da Ali G. He’s supposed to be a rich Pakistani kid or something like that. They have a lot of them over in England. Da Ali G is by far the least popular character he has done. Borat made fun of Russians, the gay one made fun of gay stereotypes, and the Dictator made fun of….I forget.

    As far as Quebec stereotypes go, I think most people would probably take it as French stereotypes.

    I enjoyed the radio bit. When you said you were English I thought you meant English from England English.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      That’s funny. I guess the fact that one has to define oneself by the English spoken is just another one of those weird Quebec-only things. And no, monsieur, France French and Quebec French not even close, neither in dialect nor culture. Crazy, right?

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