Signs and stickers with strong messages against immigration have been appearing in the town of Saguenay recently, leaving some residents to worry they are giving the town in central Quebec a racist reputation.
“Immigrants now just think that Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean [is] just a racist and xenophobe society, but that’s not true. It's really sad, because we have a lot to give,” said Louis-Michel Tremblay, director of the organization Portes ouvertes sur le Lac, which encourages immigrants to live and work in the region.
Spray-painted signs have popped up around town decorated with fleurs-de-lis that state in French, “Saguenay...a white town.”
It’s not clear who painted the signs.
Stickers were also put up around the city, including on recycling bins and parking signs, that say in French, “0% halal, 0% kosher….100% Québécois.”
On the bottom of the sticker is the website address for a group called Fédération des Québécois de souche.
The group campaigns for less immigration. Its website states that Quebec is currently being colonized by immigrants and that their influence is a threat.
The group refused CBC’s request for an interview.
Laurent Thibeault, a spokesman for the Saguenay Historical Society, said the claims are absurd.
“The population of Saguenay-- Lac-Saint-Jean is very homogeneous. It is very homogeneous and francophone — up to 98 per cent of the population,” he said, adding that locals want more diversity, not less.
Tremblay said he's worried the actions of a few people will tarnish Saguenay's reputation.
“Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean was built off immigrants. Immigrants built Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean...Maybe they thought that because we are far from Montreal, they can give this xenophobic message, but that's sad because that's not [what] the people think here,” Tremblay said.