In the Assistant Editor’s Notebook | Is Kent Hughes from Quebec?

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Posted at 5:00 a.m.

The appointment of the new general manager of the CH has sparked all sorts of reactions this week, some skeptical, others laudatory, and still others who deplored… the English-sounding name Kent Hughes.

“All that remains is to replace Ducharme with an English speaker and bingo! A hat trick, ”wrote columnist Lise Ravary on Twitter, a post that quickly went viral, prompting a few “likes”, but many more negative replies.

Are you saying, Madam Reporter, that Kent Hughes is less Québécois because his name is not French-speaking? several Internet users asked him. Do you want to say outright that he is not… from Quebec?

No, no, no, not at all, she replied. “As Parizeau said, anyone who has an address in Quebec… But it would have been a plus if his name had identified him as Francophone without having to search his CV. »


Who is Quebecer, who is not? The question is delicate and to be handled with tact.

We have had proof of this in recent weeks with the government’s famous advertising campaign to “put an end to prejudice” which seemed straight out of the Bye bye.

“In Quebec, a man from South America with tattoos who runs in the street, we call that: a Quebec neighbor”, for example. “A group of young black people gathered in a park at nightfall, we call that: friends from Quebec. ” And so on.

This clumsy campaign full of stereotypes has aroused unease. Especially when we realized that in English, “Québécois neighbor” was simply “a neighbor”. And the “Quebec friends”, simple “friends”.

A blunder that we then sought to correct, but which nevertheless reveals the difficulty of handling the term Quebecers. A difficulty, let’s be honest, on which the government does not have a monopoly.

How did the CH introduce its new CEO on Twitter last Tuesday? “Quebecer Kent Hughes. »

But in English, he suddenly became “the Montreal-born” Kent Hughes…

A columnist stumbles.

The government stumbles.

The CH stumbles.

And quite frankly, they are not the only ones: we also occasionally stumble over this delicate question to The Press.

As recently as last October, the language adviser of The Press, Lucie Côté, whom you like to read every Sunday in the Context section, has also pointed out that we tend to reserve the word Quebecers only to native French speakers. Completely unconscious.

In our texts, Leylah Fernandez is often from Laval, for example, not from Quebec (although we write the Ontarian Bianca Andreescu). Same thing for Farah Alibay, who is said to be Montrealer, because she was born in the metropolis, rarely from Quebec.

Lucie also pointed out that in our texts, we sometimes define those who have come from abroad to settle here by the country they left, as if that defined them forever. And this, regardless of the number of years you have lived in Quebec.

As if involuntarily The Press, the fact of being Quebecois became an ethnic origin, whereas all the people who live in Quebec are in principle Quebecois, of course.

In order for us to do better, Lucie Côté dug into the question and suggested guidelines for us to be more inclusive in the future.

Then a word was sent to all of the 200 journalists and artisans of The Press in order to make them aware of the importance, when writing, of always asking themselves why one chooses such and such a way of presenting a person.

Why, for example, is Dick Pound often referred to as a “Montreal lawyer”? And Leonard Cohen as a “Montreal poet”?

Journalists are then invited to ask themselves if it is not necessary, sometimes, to modify their text, so that it is more inclusive towards all Quebecers, whatever their name, whatever their origin. or their language.

Which brings us back to Kent Hughes, whom we have therefore well and truly presented as Quebecers in recent days. Because he is very Quebecois. He was born in Beaconsfield. He played minor hockey with the Lac Saint-Louis Lions. He was a member of the Patriotes du Cégep de Saint-Laurent.

“He’s a guy who has always spoken French, whose parents spoke French too, noted Enrico Ciccone in an interview with our journalist Richard Labbé. He’s a guy from here who ended up going to the United States for his career, as many others have done. Martin Brodeur also did that, and do we say that he is not a Quebecer? We should stop with that…”

And we should perhaps also stop having to detail the CV of a Quebecer, as I have just done, to ensure that it is indeed one.

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