Plains of Abraham Battle Heats Up

A battle is heating up in Quebec City regarding the Plains of Abraham, but it isn’t exactly the sort of fight that the National Battlefields Commission was hoping for. As reported earlier 2009 marks the 250th anniversary of the infamous Plains of Abraham battle at Quebec City that signified the defeat of “New France” to British imperialists, and the subjugation of French-speaking habitants. It is ingrained in the collective memory of Quebecers and Canadians as “The Conquest”, and the federal government’s National Battlefields Commission plans to re-enact it with “four days of intensive siege


Essentially the outcome of this battle, the military defeat of the French forces, represented a transfer of colonial power from one European country to another. The British ejected the French elite, installed their own, and picked up the colonial project where the French had left off. The remaining French-speakers were relegated to second class citizenship, and the First Nations were not consulted at all, despite the fact that this is their ancient territory. Despite francophone re-empowerment following the Quiet Revolution, the Plains of Abraham battle is still a touchy subject because it signifies domination over French-speakers by the British and later on Canadian governments.

The ongoing efforts to re-enact the 1759 battle on the Plains of Abraham has continued to cause controversy over the past few weeks, and what started as a grassroots effort to cancel the offensive commemoration has blossomed into a full-blown political battle. It began with grumblings from sovereignty and anti-war camps, and it wasn’t long before prominent sovereigntists threatened to disrupt the event. A group calling itself operation1759 was formed and immediately set about demanding the re-enactment’s cancellation and began culture-jamming official propaganda.

On February 4th the Bloc Quebecois, the voice of Quebec in Ottawa, demanded that the re-enactment be cancelled, and shortly after Quebec’s official opposition, the Parti Quebecois joined in the call. Across Canada there appears to be little appetite for the divisive commemoration. It appears that many Anglophones, both in Quebec and the rest of Canada are adding their voices in opposition to the re-enactment, and even academics as far away as France are calling the re-enactment plans “stupid”. More recently, the Bloc has linked the Plains of Abraham re-enactment with the sponsorship scandal via a posted video on their site. There is also a protest planned on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 22 that aims to pressure the Conservative minority federal government to cancel it without delay.

The obvious question that needs to be asked is why re-enacting this battle is deemed so important. One needs only to look at the situation in Northern Ireland where every July the Protestant Orange Order launches loud military-style parades into Catholic neighbourhoods that often degenerate into sectarian violence, racism, and hatred. Every July 12 the Orange Order parades are designed to “celebrate” the British Protestant defeat over Irish Catholics during the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, an unsubtle provocation directed against a traditionally oppressed people. The Orange Order “musicians” are known to hammer on massive war drums as they march through Catholic neighbourhoods.

The violence, rioting, and damage caused by these racist war-parade re-enactments actually resulted in the creation of a Parades Commission that attempts to keep the peace. Clearly the act of re-enacting military dominance over an historically oppressed group is both morally reprehensible and likely to cause anger, division, resentment, and possibly violence. Why would Canada support, let alone fund and organize such an activity?

More pressure is currently needed to ensure this Eurocentric re-enactment gets cancelled, preferably with a strong anti-war argument. To add your voice to the chorus of disapproval sign a pro-nationalist petition and/or join the facebook opposition. If you want to focus on opposing the re-enactment from an anti-war perspective, contact OTL ( to help create a dramatic plan. You can also contact Dr. Amir Khadir of Quebec Solidaire and ask him to take an anti-war stance in the National Assembly of Quebec City.

2 Responses to “Plains of Abraham Battle Heats Up”

  1. OTL Blog » Blog Archive » Commenting on the comments: a bit of housekeeping Says:

    […] the proposed reenactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham now cancelled (more will follow in a few days), phase 2 of […]

  2. OTL Blog » Blog Archive » Plains of Abraham Aftermath: First Nations Healing Ceremony or Eurocentric debate? Says:

    […] clear that there was very little appetite in the first place for the pro-war event, as reported earlier . Ill-conceived from Day One and bound to stir up linguistic tensions and anger in Quebec,  the […]

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