“The elites and biculturalism”: Canada, Belgium reversed?

Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck / Belga / Agence France-Presse
The belgian minister Zuhal Demir in the company of the president of the flemish nationalist party N-VA, Bart De Wever, last September

It was evident that the situation of linguistic and cultural belgian was different from that of Canada. A collective work, The elites and biculturalism, confirms this by showing that it looks similar to the opposite of that. Historically, Belgium, the prestigious language remains French, as the flemish has undergone a long humiliation. The hegemony of a different culture has rather spared the French Canadians in comparison with the Flemish.


Despite a flamandisation, that is to say, a néerlandisation, both linguistically and culturally, Belgium, observable phenomenon for several decades, the facts exposed by Guillaume Durou are insightful. The doctorate in sociology, UQAM, made a brilliant comparison between the situations in belgium and canada in the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries.


It helps us to understand the current state of Belgium, where 60 % of Dutch and 38 % of francophones would be a turning point of their age-old rivalry. This connects it to the burning problems of the book, directed by the Quebec Alex Tremblay Lamarche and the Belgian Serge Jaumain, which, of both sides of the Atlantic have worked together 12 researchers.


Since the creation of Belgium in 1830 as an independent State, free from the netherlands, we are witnessing, “says Durou,” the birth of an elite “hegemonic”, characterized by the frenchification of Flanders, where the French embodies the values of citizenship belgian “. The sociologist stresses the promotion of this language in the capital : “In Brussels, more particularly, the operation of a bourgeoisie in the flemish francisée and the bourgeoisie of French origin. “


In Canada, especially in Ontario, where French-Canadian, from Quebec, in order to improve their fate, were in a minority and often under-educated, very few have thought about to enhance the value of French as the idiom of social prestige. Those who spoke and dreamed mostly of the survival of culture.


Durou is aware of in with William Henry Moore, a liberal member of ontario in Ottawa, as an exception, English-speaking when it defends in 1918, the Franco-Ontarians against the elite anglo-protestant assimilative Toronto. On the other hand, Brian Young, another contributor to the book, noted that the Taschereau, one of the most prestigious families of the history of Quebec, have not challenged the british rule on those who spoke their language.


As early as 1776, Charles-Antoine Taschereau advises his brother : “Range all the way up to the party the less dangerous. “It represents an elite French-language, which, unlike that of Belgium, does not assimilate the rival, but bows before him. Who says language says power. However, the flemish and many other languages pale before the English ruler, a phenomenon that makes Québec so unique.

Extract from ” The elites and biculturalism ”

From 1825 to 1850, in the region which is now Belgium, the elite is French-speaking in Wallonia as in Flanders, while the national language, Dutch, is spoken by 5/8 of the population

The elites and biculturalism. Quebec-Canada, Belgium, Nineteenth-Twentieth centuries

Under the direction of Alex Tremblay Lamarche and Serge Jaumain, Septentrion, Québec, 2017, 308 pages.