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By Russ Cooper
From Leonard Cohen to Irish culture to the economic history of the Eastern Townships – if it pertains to English-speaking research in Quebec, you now have only one place to go to find it and to connect with others doing similar work.
Launched April 17, the Quebec English-Speaking Communities Research Network, or QUESCREN (pronounced ‘kes-cren’), will be a dynamic alliance of researchers, community members and institutions dedicated to developing research capacity related to English linguistic minority communities in Quebec.
The network will be housed at the School of Extended Learning (SEL) and will work in partnership with the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities at the Université de Moncton. The SEL will provide the infrastructure to support the network along with its internal partners the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance and the School for Community and Public Affairs as part of the university’s in-kind contribution.
“Anything about culture, education, history, economics, religious studies, sociology and so on relating to English-speaking Quebec, you’ll be able to reference it here,” says QUESCREN’s Coordinator-Researcher Lorraine O’Donnell. “One of the foremost goals is to support the communities themselves, help them grow and build community vitality.”
“QUESCREN will actively support Concordia’s long standing goals of promoting socially relevant research, innovative university-community collaboration, and strong community orientation and vitality,” said VP of Research and Graduate Studies Louise Dandurand.
QUESCREN will work closely with the Department of Canadian Heritage and its main community partner, the Quebec Community Groups Network. Attending the launch, Canada’s Commissioner of Official Languages Graham Fraser expressed his pleasure in advancing linguistic studies in this capacity.
“The dynamic network will be an alliance that will allow distinct research to truly flourish in Quebec’s English-speaking communities,” said Fraser.
Hot off the presses, the first product of the network is a lengthy bibliography compiled by Brendan O’Donnell (no relation to Lorraine O’Donnell), who serves as Senior Advisor for Aboriginal Affairs for Parks Canada Agency as his formal profession. He’s been working as a volunteer for more than a decade to compile titles of books and articles written about English-speaking Quebec. The non-exhaustive three volume set lists approximately 10 000 titles.
“It’ll be quite a remarkable resource,” says SEL Dean Noel Burke. “This bibliography will be a catalyst for people to engage in research previously done and use it as a stepping stone for further research.”
In addressing of the issue of language in Quebec, Burke states the environment has changed and sensitivity surrounding its politics is much less than it has been in the past.
“Fifty years ago, an Anglophone was identified by checking the primary language box on the census. But today’s English culture in Quebec is a blend of so many different factors,” says Burke. “So, the timing is right to have a look in the blender and help these communities reestablish their identities in today’s reality.”