Not for­get­ting who we are

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

Town­ship­pers’ Day is not your usual fair-like event. Like all meet­ings of a mi­nor­ity lan­guage group in Canada, it is a lot more than just meet­ing your friends to brag or com­plain about the com­mu­nity.

It is also about in­ter­act­ing with the ma­jor­ity group who some­times wit­ness for the first time the im­por­tance of our com­mu­nity group. This year’s event, to be held in Stanstead this Satur­day, will show an­other face of the Town­ship­pers’ ex­pe­ri­ence. While all other English com­mu­ni­ties are sur­rounded by Fran­co­phones, here we are bor­der­ing with Amer­i­cans, who are mostly un­aware of the is­sues that we are fac­ing.

We don’t live in the same world that we did in 1983. The lan­guage laws have been mel­lowed to an ac­cept­able point by both com­mu­ni­ties, ex­cept for their fringes. Both sides are re­quest­ing changes, none are rais­ing a ruckus over their re­quests. This was not the case then.

Yet, Town­ship­pers’ Day is also the Town­ship­pers’ As­so­ci­a­tion’s most vis­i­ble event. It is the cou­ple of hours when it opens up and shows it­self to all. It is no longer in the back­ground, al­most in­vis­i­ble, even for those who de­pend on it for the preser­va­tion of their rights. Hon­estly, Town­ship­pers’ is not dif­fer­ent than their French coun­ter­parts in Canada: un­less there is a cri­sis no­body cares about them. Like Fire­men, they work silently. But, like any emer­gency or­ga­ni­za­tion, un­less they are pre­pared to act, they are use­less. None of our Fire De­part­ments would ac­cept that a fire haz­ard ex­ist if they are aware of it; they would act pre­ven­tively, no sirens, no flash­ing lights, no tons of water, no lives in dan­ger. Town­ship­pers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, day to day, ex­cept on Town­ship­pers’ Day, is that silent pro­tec­tor of the rights of the com­mu­nity.

It does this with pro­grams that strengthen it. It does it with ser­vices like help­ing fill out your In­come taxes, le­gal con­sul­ta­tions, help­ing you find lo­cal English speak­ing re­sources.

All of this and more for only $125 for a life­time fam­ily mem­ber­ship. Bet­ter deals are hard to find. Mind you an in­di­vid­ual card costs only $15. And in the present sit­u­a­tion, our lo­cal An­glo­phone rights as­so­ci­a­tion needs EV­ERY penny it can get its hands on. The Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment view on mi­nor­ity lan­guage is to put it bluntly, in­ex­is­tent. Some may drool that Prime Min­is­ter Harper named a unilin­gual, anti-Que­bec, press spokesman, but it will be a first since the Pear­son era. This doesn’t au­gur well for lan­guage mi­nori­ties in Canada.

It will be the third time that Stanstead will host Town­ship­pers’ Day. The first time was in 1983, in Rock Is­land to be pre­cise, in a more trou­bled time than to­day for the mi­nor­ity lan­guage com­mu­nity in Que­bec. Della Good­sell was then the pres­i­dent of the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Our sec­ond time was fif­teen years ago. By host­ing the event for a third time, only Len­noxville has hosted Town­ship­pers’ Day more of­ten.

Like all host towns, this is a vol­un­teer af­fair; they have been meet­ing since the town got the nod in April of this year. Let’s be frank, Town­ship­pers’ had prob­lems get­ting a town to host this year’s event. We usu­ally know the year be­fore who will get the re­spon­si­bil­ity of host­ing thou­sands of vis­i­tors. With­out vol­un­teers this day would not hap­pen. Hav­ing less than six months to or­ga­nize it takes courage and we must ap­plaud them now; on Satur­day they will be too busy to take a well de­served bow. Let’s ap­plaud now.


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