Canadians split on origins of Canada: survey
French-speakers in Canada credit France’s 1534 discovery of the country while English speakers believe British to be the real founder of Canada.17 June 2008
OTTAWA - Canadians are divided on the origins of Canada with most French-speakers crediting France's 1534 discovery of the country, and English-speakers citing later British colonisation, a poll showed Monday.
The thorny issue is further muddied by citizens whose first language is neither French nor English - known in Canada as allophones - and who are apt to recognise aboriginals as its founders.
The findings show "an important degree of divergence" on national identity, said Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies, in the report.
The group commissioned the Leger Marketing poll ahead of celebrations for the 400th anniversary of Quebec City, which have sparked prickly debates about what the seminal event represents.
According to the poll, 67 percent of French-speaking respondents believe the French founded Canada, pointing to French explorer Jacques Cartier, who gave Canada its name, or the founding of New France in the 17th century.
In contrast, 57 percent of English-speakers say the British founded Canada, noting the British conquest of Canada in the mid-18th century, or the Confederation process of bringing together the colonies from 1867.
Meanwhile 61 percent of allophones named natives as Canada's founders.
Cartier was the first European to land on the shores of St. Lawrence River in eastern Canada.
He is said to have mistaken the Iroquoi word "kanata", meaning village, for the name used to describe this vast continent, and the name began appearing on European maps.
Alternately, some say the founding of Quebec City in 1608 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain marked Canada's beginnings.
The city, set up during the early days of the fur trade, was once the centre of New France, a colony that covered almost half of what is now Canada and the United States.
However, recent statements by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General Michaelle Jean casting Quebec City's founding as a key moment in Canadian nation-building have riled Quebec separatists who view its anniversary as a reminder of early attempts to build a French state on this continent.
The survey of 1,500 Canadians was conducted from 21 to 25 May with a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.
[AFP / Expatica]