Dear Diary, Spring, 1841
Oh, spite! What a life to be leading at this time and age! A political whirlwind occurs in the East, and I, a true Frenchwoman, am only dealt scraps of news about the new union. As fur traders pass in and out of the [Red River] colony, they deliver the latest happenings related to ‘The Act’, and I constantly grow more distraught over the future of my people in this country. I have begun to keep this journal mostly to maintain my own sanity (with Jean frequently away on hunting expeditions, I am left only to share my thoughts with the children, which, as you can imagine, is impossibly tiring), but the routine bustle of colony life does provide some comfort. However, dear diary, although my new life remains in the West, I cannot help but reaffirm that my heart stays dutifully with my brothers and sisters of French Canada.
I am no scholar, surely, but from the rumors I’ve been hearing, the French Canadians have taken a blow from the hands of British; I can’t say that I am especially surprised. You see, Claudette’s husband, he’s a buffalo trapper just East of the colony, and he told me himself that a British fellow named Durham is to blame for all this unrest. He said that Durham thinks us French Canadians as obstacles, said that we don’t deserve the same privileges as the British, all high and mighty as they are. The British of course, don’t have any problems casting away our language for the dominance of their own, do they? What’s to say about our heritage? About the few hundred years that my family has spent tilling the soil of this land? What of that? Must we have our very voices taken away for this country to grow? It is an outright humiliation for my people. One government cannot rule two groups of people who are worlds apart in their values. The French have survived for years without this nonsense; why must we bend to their will now?
If this supposed Durham is making decisions for this entire land, he should be making decisions for its people as well. Oh, how I would like to tell him of my childhood in Maskinongé, tell him what it was like to grow up in this country speaking only the language of my French ancestors, honoring them by living a French lifestyle. Maybe then Durham could see the weight of our culture, the one that I struggle to pass down to my children in this ever-changing world. I’d bet that Durham grew up as a rich school-boy, I’d bet he has no empathy for the people like us who get stepped on, time and time again. Claudette told me Durham hates us French Canadians, wants to eradicate us if he could. Claudette too understands the depth of this matter.
Dear diary, I am afraid my assistance is needed outside. There are few moments in the day when I can draw myself away from motherly duties or my sewing to dedicate myself to writing. However, all of this talk reminds me of my Indian friends that I made during that harsh winter years ago, when Jean was away. Us French Canadians and the Indians, we both understand how easily our culture can be suppressed in the hands of the British man, how easily our family’s land can be devalued to the point wrongful ownership. And yet, all I can do is stand idle. My brothers and sisters stand bravely in the East, and for that I am grateful; I am sure that they will represent my people with pride. Let not our flame go out so soon. Let the British hear our calls, and know that my French Canadian roots have not so soon been lost.