Colonised by the Spanish and then the French until its successful revolution and independence in 1804, Haiti plays an important role within Francophone literature. However, it still bears the traces of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake (which claimed between 100,000 and 300,000 lives), followed by an extended period of political uncertainty and upheaval. This was further aggravated by the 2016 Hurricane Matthew (which, though less lethal, left 175,000 people homeless). This series of disasters has meant that at Cambridge University Library, sourcing books published in Haiti has been challenging. Over several years, our regional supplier Libros Latinos was not able to travel to the country. However, as is often the case for Francophone literature, many Haitian authors are also published in Canada and France, whether they are still residing in Haiti or have emigrated.
One example is the writer and publisher Rodney Saint-Éloi, born in Haiti, who founded the publishing house Mémoire, as well as the magazine Cultura and the journal Boutures. He moved to Québec in 2001, is a member of the Académie des Lettres du Québec, and in 2003 created the publishing house Mémoire d’encrier, based on the principle of cultural diversity:
Mémoire d’encrier publie des auteur.e.s québécois.e.s, autochtones, antillais.e.s, arabes, africain.e.s… représentant ainsi une large plate-forme où se confrontent les imaginaires dans l’apprentissage et le respect de la différence et de la diversité culturelle. Continue reading →
Multilingualism is a crucial part of the diversity of library collections, although it presents challenges in terms of linguistic expertise from both librarians and readers. We have written previously about Francophone Quebecois literature and want to highlight here the work of literary societies and the importance of French language literature produced by indigenous writers in Québec, through a list of recently published works.
Kwahiatonhk! is an association dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of “la littérature et les livres autochtones”, whose name means “we write!” in the Wendat language. It is based in Wendake, two urban reserves of the Huron-Wendat Nation in Quebec. Kwahiatonhk! organises literary events, such as the Salon du livre des Premières Nations (SLPN), which started in 2011, with the sponsorship of the Wendake bookseller and publisher Librairie Hannenorak. It is the only festival entirely dedicated to indigenous literature in Quebec, offering events in both French and English.
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I recently stumbled upon a very interesting article on the Icelandic language and the threats it faces in a modern, English-speaking digital world. This put me in mind of Québec and France, and of the different approaches they have taken against a similar problem.
Take a guess: how was this film’s title translated in France?
With its Académie française, its strict language rules, the huge backlash every time someone proposes a change, any change, to the standard – see for example, the spelling reform of 2016 or the debate around trying to make the language more inclusive – you would think that France would be the best of the two at defending la francophonie, better than a French-speaking province surrounded by two enormous English-speaking cultures. Well that’s not the case. Although France is very good at resisting any attempt at modernising the language coming from within, it doesn’t worry so much about the enemy outside – the great influence of English or American and how it is affecting French vocabulary. Continue reading →
Pierre Boucher was born in Mortagne-au-Perche, France in 1622. When he was twelve, his family left to settle in New France (Canada). His father, Gaspard, worked for the Jesuits in Notre-Dame-des-Anges (Quebec) and they took care of the education of the children, especially Pierre. He was interested in the life of the native peoples and he became interpreter of Iroquoian languages, particularly Huron. He was a missionary assistant to the Jesuits in Huronia from 1637 to 1641.
Pierre Boucher, like New France pioneers Samuel de Champlain and Jean Talon, believed in miscegenation with the native peoples. Pierre married Marie-Madeleine Chrestienne (or Marie Ouebadinskoue) a Huron girl educated by the Ursulines, who later died in childbirth (1649) along with their child. In 1652 he married Jeanne Crevier, with whom he had fifteen children. From 1645 to 1667, he lived in the little settlement of Trois-Rivières (see View 1 below), founded in 1634 and second permanent settlement in New France after Quebec City. Boucher was twice-governor of Trois-Rivières (1653-58, 1662-67). Continue reading →
Québec City in 1744 – Maps.bb.821.75.1
In October 1964, Queen Elizabeth went to Québec as part of a visit to Canada (which took in PEI, Québec and Ottawa). Her reception there was not entirely welcoming. Riots met much of her visit to Québec, with anti-royalists and separatists greeting her with chants such as “Elizabeth stay at home” and “Vive le Québec libre!”. Her visit coincided with the growth of a nationalist and separatist movement that dominated the politics of Québec – and Canada in general – over the next 50 years. During her visit, the FLQ’s journal La Cognée dismissed the Queen “qui n’est qu’un symbole du colonialisme” (Fournier, F.L.Q., page 95). Continue reading →