New museum: the history of the Quebec nation “began with Champlain”, maintains Legault

New museum: the history of the Quebec nation “began with Champlain”, maintains Legault
New museum: the history of the Quebec nation “began with Champlain”, maintains Legault

Faced with criticism, François Legault assures that Indigenous people will also be discussed at the National Museum of Quebec History (MNHQ). The Prime Minister, however, maintains that the history of the Quebec nation “began with Champlain.”

• Read also: A national museum will tell the history of Quebec

Tuesday, the chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (APNQL), Ghislain Picard, accused François Legault of trying to erase the First Nations from the history of Quebec by asserting that the history of the Quebec nation “began with Champlain”.

Mr. Picard was referring to comments made by the Prime Minister when announcing the creation of the MNHQ on April 25.

During this same press conference, historian Éric Bédard, who accompanies the Musée de la civilization in the preparation of the first exhibitions, let slip “that the Aboriginal people represent a little of the prehistory of Quebec”.

“We are inseparable from the history of this land, and the arrival of Champlain does not define Quebec,” denounced Chief Picard, denouncing these “unacceptable” comments.

Relaunched on this subject, the CAQ leader qualified his position, which he maintains. “The National Museum of the History of Quebec, therefore it is the museum of the Quebec nation,” he reiterated.

French-Canadian history

“The idea is to show the history of the nation, which was French-Canadian, which is now Quebecois, which began with Champlain,” explained Mr. Legault, answering questions from the parliamentary press, Wednesday.

“Well, obviously, we are going to talk about the Indigenous people who were there before we arrived, so we are going to talk about it,” assured the Prime Minister.

“It is certain that the history of the First Nations is intimately linked to that of Quebec,” commented Minister Kateri Champagne-Jourdain, the first Indigenous woman to be elected to the National Assembly and the first Indigenous woman to sit on the council of ministers.

“Indigenous cultures have certainly influenced the history of Quebec and Quebec culture. It’s part of the history of Quebec,” insisted the member for the North Shore.

It’s up to the experts to see

Like his colleague from Duplessis, the Minister of Culture, Mathieu Lacombe, recalled that it will be up to a committee of experts to design the exhibitions.

He endorses the clarifications provided by Mr. Legault. “We say the same thing, Mr. Legault and I. […] It is a museum that will talk about the national history of Quebec, of the Quebec nation. Then, obviously, that the indigenous nations, which have their own history, which is important, must be highlighted. […] Our stories are interrelated, so there will definitely be mentions.”

“The CAQ has both hands in it,” says QS

For his part, solidarity deputy Sol Zanetti fears for the independence of the committee responsible for developing the content of the new museum institution.

“I have the impression that the CAQ has both hands in it,” reacted Mr. Zanetti. The member for Jean-Lesage asks that the First Nations be more officially involved in the process.

Otherwise, “it’s a missed opportunity to be able to talk about the history of the First Nations and the Inuit, and to do it in co-construction with them,” warns Mr. Zanetti.

Québec solidaire has also tried, but without success, in recent days, to have a motion to this effect adopted by the National Assembly, which also mentioned “that the dark events in the history of Quebec, such as the creation of residential schools and the disappearance of indigenous women and children, deserve to be highlighted.

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