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Isabelle Porter June 24, 2012
PHOTO CAPTION: Flags and red squares stood side by side on the Plains yesterday.
Quebec City — The organizers of the Fête nationale [transl. note: meaning National holiday, though it has become a secondary title of or reference to the St-Jean Baptiste holiday] attempted to bring together squares of all colours, with a certain degree of success last night. But in Quebec City, people came out in less impressive numbers than in the past.
Despite the lovely weather, the natural gathering place of the Plains [of Abraham] where crowds assemble, should have been filled by the beginning of the concert at 9PM.
Was it the result of social tension? A sign of fear? A reaction to the control measures instigated by the City? Gilles Grondin, the director of the Fête nationale, wouldn’t try to speak up about it. “People get there later, I don’t know, I can’t explain it”, he stated.
Friday, the organization called for a truce. Squares of all colours would be welcome, declared Biz of Loco Lacass [popular Quebec band performing at the concert], but people were urged to think more Blue and more about Quebec.
The Fête nationale also asked for a private security agency to confiscate all casseroles at the entrance of the site of the concert. This measure of control was in addition to the perimeter that the City of Quebec had installed to keep people from bringing in alcohol or fireworks onto the site of the celebrations.
Mr Grondin justified the ban on casseroles as “security”. They weren’t wanted by the same measure that bottles weren’t wanted as they could be used as projectiles, he claimed.
Encountered at the beginning of the show, the head of security, Martin Sirois stated that the rule had not able to be applied. The red squares had left their casseroles at home.
For their part, the artists that participated in the concert could not help but make reference to the maple spring. “We have seen a real confrontation between left and right, and that, that’s really alright”, declared host Gildor Roy at the beginning of the night. “Tonight, I propose a truce, to celebrate together”, he added, speaking of a “gang” [Quebec slang for group or bunch, not with the same pejorative connotation to crime as in English], of a “family”.
During the tribute to the late Sylvain Lelièvre, he drew parallels between the song “Marie-Hélène” and the students of 2012.
Then Paul Piché, who wore the red square, added some more in his patriotic speech. “This year, we’ve had quite the spring”, he stated before singing “Heureux d’un printemps” [Happy of a Spring]. “This year, the heart, hope and streets have spoken”, he said, prompting a loud clamour in the crowd.
It was the first time this year that the show was hosted by the singer and actor Gildor Roy. Joining him on stage were Dumas, Lisa Leblanc, Paul Piché, Marie-Mai, Marie-PIerre Arthur, Andrée Watters, Raffy, and Loco Locass.
The concert was broadcast live on Télé-Québec starting at 9PM and ended at around 11PM. Loco Locass came back on stage to end the night with their own show.
The preparations for the Fête nationale sparked all kinds of worries over the past few days. People were wondering how the festivities would blend in with the student demonstrations and if the new restrictions on alcohol consumption would be well received.
It is the second year that they’ve banned bringing your own alcohol on site. Yet the new conditions couldn’t be tested last year as the rain had cooled down the crowd anyways.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.