“The bust of Champlain, the father of New France, was expelled from the university in English-speaking Canada! »
FIGAROVOX/TRIBUNE – Trent University in Ontario has removed a bust of Quebec City founder Samuel de Champlain, claiming its appearance would anger and injure some students. David Santarossa, a young intellectual from Quebec, criticizes this decision and the ideology behind it.
Teacher and philosophy graduate David Santarossa is a Quebec intellectual interested in contemporary identity issues. Especially published “Oyanan thought» (Liber), as well as a critical examination of alleged racism affecting mathematics education in the West. He has collaborated with several newspapers and magazines in Quebec.
Both in America and Europe, great Western figures challenge one after another in academic institutions. The last bit of respect for the heroes of the past is gone, the time has come for the culture of exile. The new victim of this culture in Canada is none other than Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec in 1608.
To better place this new episode, the reader must understand that Samuel de Champlain is the most important historical figure of New France to us Quebecers. It must be admitted that, from the point of view of France, Jacques Cartier, as the first explorer of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, is remembered for a long time. On our side of the Atlantic, however, it’s Champlain “Father of French Canada” to use biographer David Hackett Fischer’s formula.
About a year ago, Champlain College, affiliated with Trent University in Ontario, Quebec’s neighboring province, formed a special committee to investigate the legacy of the famous navigator and then decide on two questions. First: Given his relationship with Aboriginal people, should the college administration remove the bust of Samuel de Champlain from campus? And then: should the college keep the Champlain name?
Officially, these two questions are at the heart of the controversy, but when we learn that the university has already handed over Champlain’s bust to the archives before this committee has come to the slightest conclusion, we tell ourselves that the die has been cast. . In the eyes of administrators, even though the bust has been on campus for decades, there seems to be an urgent need to protect everyone’s sensibility.
Last month, the committee finally presented its report, which is really worth reading to understand the logic of these activists who want to vilify figures of the past. During the consultation, several activists, some of whom were from Aboriginal backgrounds, said: “Regardless of Champlain’s actions, he is part of Canada’s colonial legacy, a legacy that led to the assimilation of Indigenous people.” Others have made a similar point: “Even if Champlain was not “violent” to the people of the region, he contributed greatly to the colonization of Canada. This in itself is unforgivable.”
Let’s understand what is at stake here. These militants don’t even bother to worry about the historical facts, simple guilt is enough for them. It is no coincidence that the militants want to ignore Champlain’s actions, they know that the founder of Quebec is an absolutely exemplary figure for the time.
Let’s understand what is at stake here. These militants don’t even bother to worry about the historical facts, simple guilt is enough for them. It is no coincidence that activists want to turn a blind eye to Champlain’s actions, they know that the founder of Quebec is an exemplary figure for the time.
He formed an alliance with the Algonquians, the Montagnais, and the Hurons. He learned from the locals, and the locals learned from him. When he died, some natives, especially the Hurons, paid their respects to him. Champlain’s project resulted in the birth of a Quebecois nation of French origin. Champlain was involved in the exchange of cultures and mutual aid between nations.
Contrary to what the most radical activists claim, French colonialism in Canada is a more nuanced story than they let on.
His project is summarized by this quote often attributed to him: “Our sons will marry your daughters and we will become one nation”. Contrary to what the most radical activists claim, French colonialism in Canada is a more nuanced story than they let on.
Champlain’s exemplary character should be noted, and even if Champlain had a darker legacy, his bust would not have merited removal. Placing statues in archives is not desirable. We can add more to nuance the legacy of these figures, but it shouldn’t be an acceptable idea to unpack them.
So, those who accuse Champlain of participating in the assimilation of the natives are completely wrong. The assimilation of Aboriginal people, since assimilation has certainly occurred, stems more from British colonialism and possibly the Canadian federal government than from French colonialism or the Quebec government. But for the new “anti-racists” they have nothing to do with these differences, Champlain would have participated in colonization in the same way as the British, that’s all.
Certainly Champlain is no saint for all this. He participated in battles, betrayed, betrayed. For that time, it was the usual expeditions and contacts with other peoples. It is therefore surprising to read that there are few Aboriginal people in the report “Suggested that Champlain’s choice of allies and his involvement in local wars contributed to the violence”. This detail in the report is striking: Champlain is criticized for his choice of allies. Does this mean that Champlain would have had a better legacy if he had sided with the Iroquois, who were historically allies of the British, rather than the Algonquians and Hurons? Can we give a better example of history being written by the victors, the English Canadians here?
Before the French came to America, First Nations were at war; slavery was practiced, prisoners were tortured. There was nothing very special about it.
As for the alleged violence that Champlain would be involved in, it has to be said that there is something very vulgar about it. Before the French came to America, First Nations were at war; slavery was practiced, prisoners were tortured. There was nothing very special about it. Champlain later comes to this historic area. He seeks allies and valuable information about the terrain and climate. In return, his local allies want him to fight against their enemies. My views may be cynical, or rather realistic, but Champlain’s actions are quite normal for the context.
Fortunately, in Quebec, we can still cherish the positive memory of our heroes. But for how long? Diversity activism often begins in the rest of Canada and inevitably ends in Quebec.
After listening to these consultations, which included favorable statements about Champlain, the committee was to write its conclusions. Our institutions, especially in English Canada, are now completely shaped by the ideology of multiculturalism. They cannot carry tradition and memory, and therefore, faced with conflicting statements, the committee decided to split the pear in two.
We will not be surprised to learn that the bust will remain in the archives. As for the college’s name, the committee recommended keeping the name Champlain, but adding information here and there on campus to better contextualize the explorer’s life. Now it will be interesting to know who will do this contextualization.
We have every reason to fear these “contextualizations” when we know that activists have nothing to do with the truth of the facts about Champlain. This story takes place in Ontario. Fortunately, we can still retain the positive memory of our heroes, as shown by the opening of the Samuel-de-Champagne bridge a few years ago in Quebec. But for how long? Diversity activism often begins in the rest of Canada and inevitably ends in Quebec.
In 2021, the Education Ministers of Quebec and France signed a letter condemning the culture of exile. Quebec and France today take on the face of resistance against the tendency to condemn the great figures of yesterday. As French heritage in America is threatened, the need for this collective resistance is more urgent than ever.