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Language bill no use to Inuit in Northern Quebec

In the 1960s, René Lévesque made the prospect of a separate Quebec a reality. A shrewd politician, he gathered enough support to start the first sovereignty party Canadians took seriously. The Parti Québécois thrived because of his hard work, charm and democratic approach. In an era when some preferred to use firebombs to get their point across, Lévesque wanted Quebecers to vote on separation. Although the Quebec premier lost his 13-year fight after the 1980 referendum, he is remembered for winning countless other victories for francophones.

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A new language law proposed by René Lévesque's Parti Québécois may soon prohibit English on all signs in Quebec. But the president of Quebec's Inuit Association says Bill 101 does no good for preserving his people's language - Inuktituk. In this CBC Radio clip, Charlie Watt says too much emphasis is being put on French when some Inuit children still don't know how to speak Inuktituk.

In 1974, Liberal Premier Bourassa's government passed Bill 22, making French Quebec's official language and requiring children to attend French-language schools. 
. Passing Bill 101 was one of the PQ's most important goals after the election. The bill went through in August 1977 and remains one of the party's biggest legacies.
. Under the bill French became the language of government, work, business and communications. The bill also made French schooling compulsory for immigrants and banned English on all signs, including those outside English-run businesses.

. Inuit in northern Quebec subsequently obtained amendments to Bill 101 in order to protect their traditional languages. Levesque
Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Magazine
Broadcast Date: May 1, 1977
Guest(s): Charlie Watts
Host: Bob Oxley
Duration: 2:55

Last updated: April 10, 2013

Page consulted on May 15, 2014

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