Quebec 1995

Greetings, Jérémie

Source: Pierre Falardeau, La Liberté n'est pas une marque de yogourt. Stanké, Montreal, 2000;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2005.

The filmmaker, activist, and polemicist Pierre Falardeau contributed this letter to his son to a collection of articles on the second failed referendum on independence in 1995.

Greetings Jérémie:

We don’t see each other much. I'm always running around here and there. I try to do my little bit for independence. I write articles, I prepare films, I make speeches pretty much everywhere. Hull, Trois Riviéres, Sherbrooke, Quebec City. I put my shoulder to the wheel, as they say. A simple militant among others in the common struggle.

I get home in the evening dead tired. Sometimes depressed to death, other times all charged up. When I change your diaper, your smiles and your goo-goos lift my morale. I listen to you laugh and my fatigue disappears. I watch you watching me, looking so happy, and it makes me happy. I'm reborn. You give me back the desire to continue the fight. A good beginning for a little rug-rat who’s only three months old.

Perhaps you'll read this letter in fifteen or twenty years. By then your father will have become an old man. Victor or vanquished, it’s of no importance. At least you'll know that he never retreated, that he didn’t bow his head, that he didn’t stupidly roll over through weakness or cowardice. You'll know that he fought for the cause of freedom, just as you should in your turn. This is the law of man, the law of life.

This struggle for the liberation of our country has been going on for 235 years. With its ups and downs. Serious defeats, occasional victories. Moments of enthusiasm. Long periods of retreat and disaster. Many combats, but also dishonorable retreats. But even so!

We still resist. Since 1760 we continue to resist.

Our enemies are powerful. They have power, money, force. We only have our dreams, our will, our determination. They have television, the radio, newspapers. We only have our arms, our legs and our brains. They have the law, number, the weight of that which was and that which is. We only have imagination, courage, hope. We have the force of that which demands to be, the force of that which will be. Like the flower that grows in a cement wall. The wall will finish by collapsing.

We can win. We must win. No choice. Our days are numbered. Our backs are against the wall. Independence isn’t a constitutional fight, as the crooked-mouthed buffoon likes to say, but a struggle for life or death. And the death of a people is also the death of someone.

We can win. If we want it. Only if we want it. Our worst enemy is ourselves. Our laziness. Our stupidity. Our lack of consistency. Our congenital feeling of guilt. Our lack of confidence.

There are days, Jérémie, when I have the impression that we'll never get there. I look at how our elite — as the call themselves — act, and it makes me want to vomit. The pettiness of those who betray us and have sold us out for more than 200 years for a few medals and a fistful of dollars makes me sick. The flabbiness of those who attempt to resist and defend the little that remains to be defended saddens me. It’s true that often our only access to the real passes through bought-off journalists or others cynical and disabused who want so much to appear objective that they always lean to the side of the strongest. Between the strong and the weak, between the exploiter and the exploited, between the colonizer and the colonized, there is no longer room for what the learned call objectivity. This pseudo-objectivity is in itself a political choice. It’s a form of treason. You're on one side. Or the other.

But there’s something more serious than the flabbiness of leaders. There’s the flabbiness of the people. The flabbiness of those called the “soft,” who we drag like a ball and chain and who, like cement boots, drag us to the bottom.. Our own flabbiness. In each of us. Our internecine quarrels. Our endless divisions. That whiny and childish tone in the corporate defense of the petty interests of all, young and old. Me. Me. Me. Always me. Responsible for themselves, of others, society, the country. My privileges, my rights. Always. Never my obligations.

Where are the intellectuals, the artists, the scientists? Where are the artisans, the workers, the unionists? Where are the farmers, the students, the young workers? And the others? “Where are you then, you bunch of bastards,” as the filmmaker Gilles Groulx said.

At the baseball game? At the mall? In Paris? In New York? At the Citadelle store buying a swimming pool? In the garage making a pile of metal shine? In the garden eliminating dandelions with huge helpings of insecticide.

Everyone is responsible. Personally. Responsible for all. Responsible for everything. Whatever his language, his ethnic origin or the color of his skin. Victory has its cost. Defeat has its cost. When the time comes everyone will have to render accounts.

In fifteen or twenty years, Jérémie, I don’t know what you'll be up to. But I know one thing: today: for my part, I am going to fight. With passion. With ill-nature. Like a dog. With teeth and claws. I'm going to fight along with others, with many others who also want to fight, sick of losing. I've had enough. This time there’s no question of retreating. We can win. It’s a matter of wanting to.

Bye, Jérémie. I leave you with these two quotes:

“It can’t always not happen.”
Gaston Miron

“By any means necessary”
Malcolm X