Segments in this Video

Controversial Vote (04:40)


Canada seemed on the verge of splitting into two countries in 1995, the year that citizens of Quebec voted on an independence referendum. Jacques Parizeau, the province’s prime minister, characterized opposition as being driven by moneyed interests and ethnic voters.

Lingual Divide (07:29)

English and French speakers were split when it came to supporting Quebecois independence. English-speaking citizens tended to be against secession, while Francophones resented residents who did not bother to learn French. A rally was held at Montreal’s Verdun Auditorium.

Resentment of Minorities (06:53)

Young Quebeckers tended to support an open society where all votes were equal. In contrast, many supporters of independence engaged in ethnic scapegoating, uniting under the slogan “Québec for Québécois.” Portuguese citizens expressed their concerns during a referendum debate.

Nationalist Sentiment (06:40)

French journalists monitored the story carefully as polls indicated that the referendum might pass. Passage would mean declaring independence without Quebec having its own currency, military and other necessities. Some saw a yes vote as retaliation for votes from previous decades.

First Nations Weigh In (06:46)

Canadian storyteller and musician Alain Lamontagne spoke to a crowd about his reasons for voting yes. The Cree Nations debated whether to support the independence referendum on Oct. 24, 1995. The Crees overwhelmingly voted no.

Unity Speech (05:04)

Liza Frulla, a member of the National Assembly of Quebec, encouraged more than 100,000 citizens who attended a rally in Montreal to vote no. Dozens of Newfoundlanders organized a visit at their own expense to ensure their voices were heard.

Country in Limbo (08:18)

It remained unclear how the vote might go just days before it was held. Supporters of the referendum felt put upon by English-speaking Canadians. Many citizens were forced to examine what it meant to be Canadian.

Looking for Common Ground (04:19)

Speakers shared their views at a rally on the referendum. One man referenced his Irish heritage and spoke in Gaelic to make a point about the country’s resilience. Writers Josh Freed and David Orchard debated the merits of Quebec sovereignty.

Election Day (07:36)

Management at CBC Radio gathered to debate their stance on the upcoming vote. A record 93.5% of eligible voters went to the polls. Quebecois writer Denise Boucher explained why she supported secession.

Economic Uncertainty (17:14)

The value of the Canadian dollar dipped in response to Quebec’s potential secession, but investors did not panic and dump their Canadian assets. The pro-secession vote had a solid lead as results started to come in, but the measure ultimately lost by a slim margin.

Credits: Referendum - Take 2/Prise deux (01:31)

Credits: Referendum - Take 2/Prise deux

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The most important political event in recent Canadian history, the Quebec vote on sovereignty, takes place in October 1995. During the tense days leading up to the referendum for independence, 23 filmmakers from the National Film Board's English and French documentary studios take their cameras into the streets and homes of Quebeckers. Culled from 250 hours of footage, Referendum is an emotional portrait of a profoundly divided society. In a collage of powerful moments, the video recaptures the emotions of that time and measures them against today's political agenda. Implicit is the question: What next?

Length: 77 minutes

Item#: FMK190461

ISBN: 978-1-64623-763-0

Copyright date: ©1996

Closed Captioned

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