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An Open Letter to the Mainstream English Media:

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 togetherness.

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 now.

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.

Sincerely,

The Administrator of Translating the printemps érable.

Photo Credit: Monica Eileen Patterson


Addendum:


As a perfect illustration of the incredible collaborative and generous spirit that is emblematic of this movement, within two hours of posting the above letter, I received, unsolicited, the following translation of the song that is features in the video. This is who we are.

Lyrics:

You tell them

You tell them

That it was instinct that

Drove you up to here.

You tell them

You tell them

That your senses were screaming

Deeply driven

By a strange force

Let it be your base camp.

Let it be your base camp.

You tell them

You tell them

That it was intuition that

Drove you up to here

A carelessness

So necessary every now and then

Let it be your base camp.

Let it be your base camp.

*Translated by Ian Truman, submitted by Mary Lee Maynard.

4

Lawyers take to the streets with students for Montreal’s 35th consecutive night of protest
As negotiations between student leaders and the provincial Liberals resumed in Quebec City Monday evening after a supper break, more protests took place in different parts of Quebec including Montreal, which hosted its 35th consecutive night of demonstrations.

Lawyers dressed in their courtroom gowns paraded in silence from the city’s main courthouse through the streets of Old Montreal to join the nightly march.

“It is one of the first times I’ve seen lawyers protest in public like this…and I’ve been practising for almost 30 years,” Bruno Grenier said outside the building surrounded by about 250 people, some carrying copies of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The lawyer said his colleagues wanted to show the public that they oppose a law they “find unjust and which is probably unconstitutional.” (Photos: Canadian Press/Reuters)

My trip to jail for reading 1984 on the metro (First-Hand Account)

June 11, 2012

Original French Text: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/hpq5u1

This Sunday, June 10, 2012, I attempted to take part in a protest-action: over the course of a few hours, I would take the metro back and forth from Berri to Jean-Drapeau station to peacefully protest my disagreement with the Formula 1 Grand Prix, which in my opinion promotes sexism. 

Dressed in a flowered dress and with a bag full of dangerous objects such as an apple, a bottle of water and three books, I wanted to draw attention to the heightened police presence and the actions of the SPVM [Montreal police] who have themselves been like terrorists from the start of this conflict.  I would read George Orwell’s 1984, a novel describing a society overtaken by a police state. 

Read More

Quebec student leader takes protest on road as group looks to create Ontario ‘strike movement’
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, known for his telegenic looks and refusal to condemn violence, has been recruited to teach Ontario student leaders about Quebec’s paralyzing student strikes, as Ontario students appear to be setting the stage for their own season of discontent.

The Canadian Federation of Students has organized and funded Mr. Nadeau-Dubois and other Quebec organizers to tour 10 Ontario universities for its Quebec-Ontario Student Solidarity Tour.

“We are optimistic that a general student strike in Ontario can and will succeed, given the right ingredients,” an open letter from Quebec activists to the CFS said, adding the letter “represents a first step towards creating a radical, democratic strike movement in Ontario and beyond.” (Photo: Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

I fought Nazism,
I fought facism,
I hated Duplessis,
I didn’t make it to 94 years of age for this.
NO to bill 78!

Source


Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.

*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at translatingtheprintempsderable@gmail.com. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.

4

Solidarity with Quebec

….and now back to Occupy Wall Street who took to the streets last night in solidarity with the striking students in Quebec.  The Occupy protesters started in Washington Square Park and made a rambling cat a mouse (with cops) journey up to Times Square banging on their pots and pans the whole way. In Times Square, there was one arrest and one de-arrest, with the march wrapping up a few blocks away in front of the Canadian consulate.

The Quebec students have been protesting for over 100 days against hikes in student tuition fees and for the past 2 weeks, against a new law in Quebec that effectively makes any kind of protest illegal.  The pot and pans are their symbols also called casseroles in French.

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The manifs des casseroles (pot and pan demonstrations) have taken Montreal by storm! These are spontaneous neighbourhood protests in which people clang their pots and pans at 8pm to signify their defiance of Law 78. They do so on street corners, on their balconies, in parks, and tonight (May 23), many of these protests transformed, again spontaneously, into marches through different Montreal neighbourhoods, blocking off streets and filling them with beautiful noise. Watch the above video of the manif in the Villeray neighbourhood of Montreal, and remember: this was completely spontaneous, and only one of many around the city! Montreal does not give up. This law will be overturned by children in their pajamas banging pots and pans on the streets of Montreal.
See this map for places where these protests have been known to congregate (so far!): http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=209921455125856405191.0004c0a9f2fdf2a079daf&msa=0&ll=45.537738%2C-73.583851&spn=0.069377%2C0.169086

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