O Kebek? Oh, Quebec - Macleans.ca

O Kebek? Oh, Quebec


The Societe St-Jean-Baptiste has commissioned an anthem for Quebec, called — oddly enough — O Kebek. It’s a terrible little song, completely unsingable (you can listen to it here.) But the worst part are the lyrics: “There are no patriotic calls to arms beneath the rockets’ red glare, or bragging about ruling over a vast empire, or any of the militaristic overtones of so many national anthems.”

So why have an anthem, then? Patriotism is essentially a form of brand loyalty, and the only way you’re going to get your preferred imagined community to coalesce around a proposed national identity is to make it clear not only who is included in the community, but — crucially — who is excluded. You have give the nation a narrative, either of triumph over enemies, or of ongoing collective suffering at the hands of oppressors. Instead:

“O Kebek” in its long version — which encompasses eight stanzas — references Quebec’s diversity and its natural wonders, announcing that “the St. Lawrence flows through our blood.” It pays tribute to the French, the English, the Irish, and the aboriginals as well as the Snowy Owl, moose and the Aurora Borealis.

I guess there’s no mention of the moneyed interests and the ethnic vote, so that’s something. But “under a rainbow of love we sing of liberty”? Sapristi.

I love national anthems, the more militaristic and confrontational the better. And I’m all for Quebec having one. But come on guys, give yourselves a proper anthem, instead of this Free-to-be-you-and-me, Hinterland-Who’s Who Trudeaupianism.  How about “drinking the blood of Don Cherry, we sing of liberty”. Or “By the fist of Rocket Richard, we beat the hated Leafs.” Or “The winter was cold, and the English humiliated us again”.

Here’s some inspiration.

Filed under:

O Kebek? Oh, Quebec

  1. Whatever happened to Mon Pays?

    In any case, national anthems have had their day, and should be retired.

  2. “…… Free-to-be-you-and-me, Hinterland-Who’s Who Trudeaupianism.  How about “drinking the blood of Don Cherry, we sing of liberty”. Or “By the fist of Rocket Richard, we beat the hated Leafs.” Or “The winter was cold, and the English humiliated us again”.

    Now you are talking, Potter! 

    I would prefer Quebec separate so us in Rest of Canada could get rid of “Free-to-be-you-and-me, Hinterland-Who’s Who Trudeaupianism” and I reckon if separatists start singing songs like that the contradictions will be heightened, that’s for sure. 

    • You might find it easier for you to separate.

    • I agree.  Separate from Quebec.  But you’re not Canadiens.  You’re British North Americans.  I am still not a separatist, but if I hear one more rendition of Ô Canada in English, I am going to revolt.  The song is not a lament, to be sung in a boring tone, as it is always sung in English these days.  It is a lively march, the original lyrics giving it it’s pam-pa-pam rhythm (ton histoire est une épopée). 

  3. Ô Canada will do.  After all it is about Canada and its people, those who under the watchful eye of God, developed near the giant river (Sous l’œil de Dieu, près du fleuve géant, le Canadien grandit en espérant.)

    We want our name back, our national anthem back, and our country is Canada. 

    I think there should be a contest in the ROC to rename it:  British North America comes to mind, although I am sure you can do better.

    • No backsies. 

      • It would be funny indeed if Quebec were to separate from Canada and the ROC would have an anthem that was commissionned by the Saint-Jean Baptiste Society to honour French-Canadians!

  4. Nah nah Potter, that’s not an anthem. This is an anthem. One that has soul.[ i try not to think of the millions that died under it’s tyranny. But then whose anthem isn’t soaked in blood?


    Another anthem that really really sucks. And it’s such a great country too. The only one that almost won me away from canada.


    The real thing of course…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwvazMc5EfE&feature=related

    • Well both of them have been changed to reflect today rather than the past.

  5. As ‘un anglais’ by birth, I have always had an affinity towards ‘Gens du Pays’. It is an absolutely beautiful song that for some strange reason (well, not particularly strange) was co-opted by the souvereigntistes. Were Quebec and Canada to decide to go their separate ways, I have no doubt it would be adapted as the national anthem of Quebec. 

    Failing that, we should go for broke and modify this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pv5jLsLoYcE

    “Quebec greatest exporter of Asbestos
    If you don’t like that 
    Its best that you left us”

  6. The sovereignty movement in Quebec is a joke. They can’t stand economically on their own, and don’t even make an effort to. But calling themselves a “nation” and writing up a little diddy to call a “national anthem” makes them feel special. Great. I hope the Habs fans enjoy singing 3 national anthems at every hockey game now.

  7. I still find it strange that the ROC, with Quebec gone, would like to have as a national anthem a song commissionned by the Saint-Jean Baptiste Society of Quebec to honour those of French Canadian descent. 

  8. You are part of the Rebel Alliance, and a traitor. Take him away!

  9. It really is a terrible song.

  10. This anthem is pretty much non-millitaristic, but has a stirring theme (if you want to live and die in the North, that is):

    1. Thou ancient, thou free and mountainous North
    Thou quiet, thou joyful beauty!
    I greet thee, most beautiful land upon earth,
    Thy sun, Thy sky and meadows green.
    Thy sun, Thy sky and meadows green.

    2. Thou rest upon memories of great olden days,
    When honored thy name flew across the world,
    I know that thou art and will be as thou were,
    Yes, I want to live I want to die in the North
    Yes, I want to live I want to die in the North

  11. If you can translate but not understand Duguay’s song, maybe you should study “savoir vivre”.  It might come as a new concept to you, and as a shock as to what is the “Québec difference”. 

  12. Considering Quebecois have never been overly militaristic, an anthem talking about conquests and what-have-you would be quite ridiculous. It would be the best way for us to be even more ridiculed by the rest of you.
    So the only things we can take about are our beautiful lands and the rather progressive aspects of our society.
    I’m not saying I like this anthem. It stinks of separatist pride, and I love Canada, but the lyrics are (mostly) fine in my book.
    Besides, in this day and age, where the nations of the world are trying to work together instead of trying to crush each other, overly patriotic anthems sound terribly dated. Like the marseillaise you mentioned, which has a wonderful, timeless melody, but terrible, terrible lyrics.
    My main gripe with Dugay’s effort, aside from some corny lines  and the separatist fervor, is that it sounds more like the theme song for a japanese Giant Robot anime than an actual anthem. There’s also the fact the long version is way too long while the short version has most of the dumb lyrics in it…
    The rainbow of love? I prefer a rainbow in the dark…

  13. hey mes esti on a le droit d<'Avoir notre propre hymne national donc fermer votre gueule de merde, parce que cela ne vous regarde pas vous êtes des anglais!

  14. Vous êtes des anglais, ça vous regarde pas, c’est le peuple français qui doit choisir et avoir une discussion sur le sujet donc arrêter de critiquer tout le monde, tout le monde a son opinion.
    En passant Harper c’Est un enfant de chienne!
    Have a good one!