My disturbing National Patriots Day

Yesterday at noon, Serge Sasseville loudly played Ukraine’s national anthem in front of the Russian consulate in Montreal.

As the independent councilor of the Ville-Marie district, Sasseville is demonstrating its opposition to the invasion of Ukraine, which is now in its fourth month. Every day since February 24, this lawyer, accompanied by some pacifists, including myself yesterday, has repeated a stroller sprayed with red paint to symbolize the deaths of children killed in Russian raids.

In another era, such a modest demonstration would have gone unnoticed except by the immediate neighbors of the Russian consulate’s opulent building, the Avenue du Musée. Thanks to the Internet, it’s already been passed on in most western countries and will certainly be a topic of conversation for a long time to come. Thanks to the internet, this war, initially confined to Ukraine, is having global repercussions and that Volodymyr Zelinsky, president of a country little was known about not so long ago, has become a well-known face around the world.


Yesterday was National Patriots Day. When I was in elementary school, that Monday in May was King’s Day. When I was in college it became the Day of the Dollard des Ormeaux, then it was replaced by the Day of the Queen. In 2002 Prime Minister Bernard Landry decreed that we’d rather celebrate the patriots. With little history taught in our schools, most of my grandchildren were unaware that a few hundred rebels were about to liberate Lower Canada from the British Crown in 1837-1838 to make Quebec a sovereign state.

Oh! back then there was no internet. Thus, unknown in Gaspé or Roberval, the rebels in Montreal and Quebec had had enough of the dictates of British Governor Count Gosford, who was fooling the legislatures of Upper and Lower Canada. Wolfred Nelson and Louis-Joseph Papineau gathered 6,000 supporters and formed the Six-County Assembly, which became the Sons of Liberty. They took up arms to liberate Lower Canada.

This was the start of a rebellion that led to deadly fighting against Loyalists and British soldiers at Saint-Denis, Saint-Charles and then Saint-Eustache, where the Patriots were decimated by John Colborne’s soldiers. This administrator of Lower Canada and its next governor was dubbed an “old arsonist” for his ruthless martial practices.


At the time of the rebellion, Monseigneur Jean-Jacques Lartigue, Bishop of Montreal, sided with the British Crown against the Patriots. Without his support and that of the high clergy, it is easy to imagine that thousands of other French Canadians would have joined the ranks of the patriots and undoubtedly influenced the course of history. Coincidentally, in its aggression against Ukraine,
Vladimir Putin also received the support of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the “Pope” of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Lord Durham, appointed Governor-General at the end of the rebellion, declared in a famous speech that “the French Canadians are an inferior people, without history and without literature”. Coincidentally, these statements are very similar to those made by Putin on February 22, when he declared that “Ukraine is neither a country nor a state and that the Ukrainian people do not exist”!

These are the disturbing thoughts last National Patriots’ Day inspired.

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