"Je suis née pour croître et devenir
une féministe canadienne... francophone."


Voilà dix ans, je traversais le Canada pour me rendre à Banff en Alberta. C'était mon premier voyage en train dans l'Ouest canadien. J'étais une des rares femmes francophones qui allaient participer à un congrès historique de "féministes" canadiennes. Nouvellement féministe et super curieuse, je désirais fortement découvrir le mouvement des femmes canadiennes en éducation. Équipée d'un magnétophone et la tête débordante de questions, j'allais interviewer toutes les femmes fortes et intéressantes de la nation!

... D'elles j'obtiendrais des réponses à toutes mes questions. Quelle aventure! ... Ce fut pour moi le début d'une prise de conscience linguistique féministe qui s'approfondit encore aujourd'hui. Voici le récit de cette expérience.

Au pied du mont Rundle, j'ai retrouvé, en pleine nature, toutes ces merveilleuses femmes. Tels des moines bouddhistes, elles se promenaient, discutaient, tout en admirant les arbres et en respirant l'air frais des montagnes Rocheuses. Sans doute s'inspiraient-elles de cette beauté splendide.

"I was born to grow and become a Canadian feminist ...
who's francophone."


Ten years ago, I was one of very few francophone women who went to participate in a historic congress of feminists in Canada. I was very excited, curious and eager, with my tape recorder and a head full of questions, to interview the most interesting and active women in the nation.

In a beautiful natural setting at the foot of Mount Rundle, these women talked about everything: domestic violence, family shelters, women's centres in universities and colleges, non-sexist education and new research projects. But another francophone, Hortense Roy from the Secretary of State, remarked on the absence of francophone and asked, "But what about the education of francophone women outside of Quebec?" This has become the guiding question of my work and education since then.

When I returned from the congress in Banff and invited other women to listen to my interviews, several answered that they weren't interested in being appropriated into the anglophone feminist movement in Canada. So we initiated our own movement. 400 franco-Ontarian women united under the banner SAVOIR C'EST POUVOIR (knowledge is power) and in 1984, Action Éducation Femmes organized their first national conference in Montreal.

Still today there is resistance to francophone education in Canada. I believe we need a national literacy "conscious-raising" campaign in this country. But we have one recent victory: the creation in Ontario of the first francophone college with Jacqueline Pelletier and four other women on the Board of Governors.

Inequality of education in Canada in both languages is an issue for francophone and anglophones. If neither group recognizes and fights against the pressure of anglo-american monolingualism, both English and French Canada are set to disappear slowly like forests that burn away, like Africa that is becoming a desert. I remember from the Banff congress the words of Renate Kraukeaur who spoke like Nellie McClung. She said, "Do it and let them howl!"

Pierrette Carrière was a founding member of CCLOW and is currently teaching Français langue maternelle at Algonquin College in Ontario.

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