John Walker and his film "Que­bec My Coun­try, Mon Pays"

Montreal Times - - News -

When I saw this movie last year at the Mon­treal Doc­u­men­tary Fes­ti­val de­pict­ing the di­rec­tor's and other An­glo­phones' strong sen­ti­ments for Que­bec, it seemed to me as a case of un­re­quited love. An­glo Que­be­cers were here for many gen­er­a­tions, but with the rise of na­tion­al­ist feel­ings among the fran­co­phone ma­jor­ity and the en­su­ing en­act­ment of leg­is­la­tion that se­verely re­stricted the use of English in the prov­ince, a large num­ber of An­glo­phones made the de­ci­sion to leave.They no longer felt wel­come in the land where, even though, they have been born and grown up. That trend to leave is still on, in par­tic­u­lar among the young— which is un­for­tu­nate, be­cause that would be a loss for every­one in­volved: the ones who leave and the so­ci­ety that may lose one very sig­nif­i­cant com­po­nent of its cul­ture.

"Que­bec my Coun­try, Mon Pays," a film by John Walker that touches this sen­si­tive is­sue is be­ing re­leased this com­ing week, and I had the chance to talk to the di­rec­tor about some of the premises of this doc­u­men­tary. Mon­treal Times: Tell us about this pain of leav­ing Que­bec.

John Walker:

It is un­set­tling. Fam­i­lies are di­vided: there is no more of the reg­u­lar cel­e­bra­tions to­gether, Christ­mas, birth­days. It is the break­ing-up of the fam­ily. It also brings an iden­tity is­sue: Que­bec was your place. If you leave, you don't have a place.

But then you left

MT:

JW:

One feels that there wasn't a fu­ture for you in the prov­ince.

And you had deep roots in the prov­ince

I come from a fam­ily with Ir­ish and Scot­tish roots, which had been es­tab­lished in Que­bec for some gen­er­a­tions. But my iden­tity was An­glo­phone (even though we were not English or An­gloSaxon, ours was a lin­guis­tic and cul­tural def­i­ni­tion). When I was 8, I felt that the French kids didn't like you. I was 11 when there were bombs placed in mail­boxes. Seren­ity gave way to fear. MT Para­dox­i­cally, how­ever, in the movie you men­tion that you ac­tu­ally voted PQ. How is that?

I re­spected and un­der­stood the de­mands of the French-speak­ing peo­ple. I also had an un­der­stand­ing of Que­bec cul­ture. I was vot­ing for so­cial jus­tice.The cul­tural side of the ques­tion I un­der­stood. I also saw the sit­u­a­tion in the 1960s when peo­ple were re­belling against op­pres­sion rep­re­sented by the Church and Amer­i­can cap­i­tal­ism. An­g­los were

MT:

JW:

JW:

con­sid­ered as part of that con­di­tion against which peo­ple were re­belling.

Which again brings the is­sue of iden­tity…

My grandma used to say "chal­lenge half-truths" which for me is to crave for a real sense of his­tory. Who am I? Celtic? Iden­tity is a pos­i­tive thing. But iden­tity is a ques­tion that is al­ways there.

MT: And in your case, judg­ing for the many oc­ca­sions in which the film shows the ru­ral land­scape of Que­bec, that is also part of your view and your iden­tity…

Yes. I feel a con­nec­tion to the land, on my father's side, peo­ple were farm­ers. In "Que­bec My Coun­try, Mon Pays" those ru­ral im­ages are very spe­cific.These are my mem­o­ries.Above all, I also try to re­flect my re­spect for the work­ing peo­ple.That's my bond to Que­bec, my coun­try.

"Que­bec My Coun­try, Mon Pays" will be screened this Mon­day, June 19 a 6:30 at the Cin­ema du Parc (as part of Ciné­mag­ique se­ries), and at Cin­ema Beaubien start­ing June 23.

MT:

JW:

JW:

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