There are these differences, the logic of which we do not understand, nor even the merits. So it goes Of the highly publicized feud between rapper Samien and the International Festival de la Chanson de Granby (FICG).
The reason is that the FICG organizers have asked Samian to present his presentation entirely or primarily in French. His angry reaction is completely understandable.
It is true that FICG’s mission is to promote a song in French. The fact remains that Samian’s latest CD – Nikamo – It is 100% sung in the Anishinabe language. Nothing is hidden there.
A famous artist, his recent work in fact bears witness to his very long work to rediscover the Algonquin side of his family heritage. The Anishinabe language, which he must master because his first language is French, is clearly an integral part of it.
Faced with FICG’s refusal to allow him to fully perform at Anishinabe, Samian has pointed out what he considers to be a manifestation of the colonial mentality. But on this key issue, it’s hard to know what FICG really motivated.
Is it really a colonial reaction? Or is it just a lack of judgment? Or the inability to think outside the box for one’s calling? The question of adapting to the legitimate needs of indigenous peoples, marginalized for centuries, to know is more visible and more heard.
I don’t have the answer. The only certainty is that this debate is infinitely sad. If he can at least open new channels of communication between FICG and local artists whose choice is to sing or perform in the indigenous language.
Because in the end, Samian puts his finger on an undeniable fact. He asserts that the indigenous languages are not foreign to Quebec and do not threaten French. On the contrary, one might be inclined to add.
The preamble to the Charter of the French Language (Bill 101) states unequivocally: “The National Assembly recognizes the Amerindians and Inuits of Quebec, who are descendants of the first inhabitants of the country, the right they have to maintain and develop their mother tongue and civilization.”
As it should be, Bill 101 does not address murky waters as to whether or not this basic principle depends on the origins or mother tongue of the people claiming it. Of course, this principle should not be relied upon.
Whether or not the first Samian language was Anishinabe, his existential quest to find roots in the Algonquin belongs to him. Point.
In this vast world, all origins combined, many people go in search of a forgotten or erased language, according to all kinds of political and historical circumstances, of a part of their ancestors.
This business – because it is – requires a lot of love, patience, effort, and pride. Yes pride. This famous word being given to us, these days, in Quebec at the slightest opportunity.
If there are people who have long been able to take full measure of the miraculous task of defending a threatened language and culture, it is the people of Quebec. Here, too, all assets combined.
Samian often says that he primarily seeks to build bridges between French-speaking and indigenous cultures. The lens is wonderful.
However, each bridge requires two banks to unite one for the other without distorting each other. The bridge is a way of crossing, a way of meeting, not a steamer device.
FICG has yet to open up about it. Its organizers are certainly capable of that. Reconciliation is at hand. It’s just about wanting it.
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