Despite decades-old cultural barriers, English and French youth aspire to bridge the gap between “the two solitudes,” according to Creating Spaces, an innovative new report from the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).
“We’re past the language thing,” said Brent Platt, co-chairman of QCGN’s Youth Standing Committee. “Youth are feeling positive about the language separation, and they don’t fear assimilation.”
The Youth Standing Committee spearheaded the 32-page report that lays out a framework for integrating young anglophones and francophones in Quebec. The report opens by citing a 2006 Statistics Canada report that found that over the previous 15 years, the number of 20-34-year-old English-speakers in Quebec dropped by one-fifth, and develops a series of aspirations and solutions designed to remedy the isolation many English-speaking youth feel in Quebec.
Platt stressed that although the report contains enough statistics and empirical data to resonate with Quebec’s policymakers, this was a youth-managed project run by the same people whose identification with Quebec culture it seeks to remedy. Consequently, Platt has noticed strong positive reactions to Creating Spaces from readers of all ages.
The project aims to improve Quebec’s youth community from the inside out: slow the drain of Quebec’s anglophones by integrating the English-speaking and francophone communities. Creating Spaces also seeks to build a strong, diverse youth network that will in turn attract further culturally diverse youth to Quebec through education, employment, and community life.
The project, however, does not end with the report. Platt called it a “gateway document” – a blueprint for future endeavours to unify the English and French youth communities.
Even so, Platt and the QCGN recognize that there is no quick fix to issues of cultural isolation in Quebec.
“This is something we’ll need to take one baby step at a time,” Platt said. “But we’re very, very optimistic.”