Canadian or Quebecker?
Student Exchange Builds Perspective
Have you ever wondered what it's like to live in a different
country? Would the roads and signs look different? Would the
people there speak a different language than you? What makes
a country a country? Audrey Poulin of St-Georges, Quebec thinks
Audrey was born in St-Georges, Quebec and until this past
spring, she spent her entire life there. To her, Quebec is and
always will be a separate country. "We are very different
from the rest of Canada," she comments, "and
we are the only province that speaks French." Her perceptions,
of course, were all based on what she had been taught and heard,
as she had never seen any of the rest of Canada.
This past spring, Audrey Poulin journeyed beyond her familiar
home. Audrey was given the opportunity to experience the rest
of Canada, to see what other Canadians are like. Along with her
thirteen classmates from the Polyvalente St-Georges, she participated
in an exchange with Manitoba students. Organized by teachers
Ms. Lori Neufeld and Mr. Rene Maheux, the exchange began with
the visit of thirteen students from Garden Valley Collegiate
in Winkler to the Polyvalente St-Georges.
In the second stage of the exchange, the Polyvalente students
came to Manitoba on April 2nd. They visited museums, colonies,
shopping malls, and schools hoping to experience and realize
what the rest of Canada - particularly Manitoba - was like. "Manitoba
it's very conservative and all the people are proud to be a Canadian,"
states Audrey. "We are more proud to be a Quebecker than
a Canadian." Audrey was surprised that in Manitoba,
the school even played the Canadian anthem prior to morning announcements.
Generally speaking, Audrey says, the people in Quebec like
to be referred to as Quebeckers rather than as Canadians. If
they had the choice of the two "countries" most Quebec
residents would choose to live in Quebec, even if they didn't
agree with separating from Canada. "We want to keep the
French language and we want to keep the French roots,"
Audrey explains. "We are proud of the generations before
us." To her, it's not so much about being a part of
Canada as it is being a part of Quebec.
When Audrey came out to Manitoba, she learned a lot. "I
learned more about another culture and got to know people who
think differently," she says. "After this exchange
I know I want to travel again."
Some of Audrey's first impressions when she came to Manitoba
support her belief that Quebec is a separate country. She found
that the Manitoba landscape - at least in the southern part of
the province - is very different from what she has known. It
is flat, while in Quebec there are many mountains and valleys.
Another difference Audrey noticed was that it appeared as if
the people in Manitoba were more religious than those in Quebec,
because of the different beliefs.
Audrey found one of the major distinctions between Quebec
and Manitoba was the language. In Quebec, French is the primary
language; in southern Manitoba, it is second language for most
people who speak it. Manitobans also seem to be more restrained
and confined, in terms of rules. In Quebec "you have
the freedom to do what you want to do," Audrey declares.
These observations, of course, don't hold true for all of Canada,
but they definitely helped Audrey prove her point that Quebec
is different from the rest of Canada.
A brief visit to a different province, though, has not yet
convinced Audrey that Quebec is a part of Canada or that Canada
might shape her primary identity. Asked whether she thinks of
herself as a Quebecker or a Canadian, she responds: "I'm
a Quebecker, because I identify better with Quebec than with
the remainder of Canada."
AUDIO STORY - School Radio Show: Interview with exchange
student Audrey Poulin of St-Georges, Quebec.
See audio file
CUE: Audrey Poulin, a student at Polyvalente St-Georges
in Quebec, made her first visit to another province in (DATE:
e.g. mid-March). Audrey traveled to Manitoba as part of a Government
of Canada exchange program, aiming to develop her English skills
and to meet people who think differently from those in native
AUDREY: "I learned more about the English language
and I think I am better at my English now then before. After
this exchange I have decided I want to travel again because you
can learn so much about another culture or different way of thinking
than you can in any books."
CUE: The exchange helped to open Audrey's eyes to the
world around her and to realize what different parts of Canada
AUDREY: "One of the big differences between Manitoba
and Quebec is that the landscape is very flat there, whereas
here there are many mountains and valleys. I also think that
the people in Manitoba are more religious than where I come from.
Their church is more interesting. You can actually sing! "
CUE: Audrey feels that Manitoba was very conservative
in comparison to Quebec. She finds the people in Manitoba are
proud to be Canadian, whereas in Quebec, people are more proud
of being from Quebec than Canada.
AUDREY: "We are very different from the rest of Canada
and we think differently. We are also more proud to be from Quebec
than a part of Canada because we are proud of the generations
OUTWORDS: Audrey still identifies better with Quebec than
the rest of Canada and she believes her views will never change.
She will remain a separatist forever.
Photos from Audrey's visit to Manitoba(Click on photos to enlarge)
Polyvalente St-Georges, St-Georges, PQ http://www.csbe.qc.ca/psg/
Garden Valley Collegiate, Winkler, MB http://gvc.gvsd.mb.ca/
CRITIQUES OF ARTICLE BY
- Wonderful! This is a very well-written news item. Excellent
- Excellent article. By choosing to focus on one student rather
than the exchange itself, you've written a fascinating account
of a student encountering the differences in culture. Good work.
- Well done. Good job on your audio report.
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