........Comment by Bill Moore

...The forest around us

The language
of a tree

....In the early fall of 1972 a contingent of 25 forestry and education students, champion loggers and myself visited the forests of northern Quebec. For myself, and I am sure the others, it was a most memorable event. We were hosted by the forest faculty of Laval University, the Quebec Forest Industries Association and the Price Co. Ltd.
....We were given an intensive tour of logging, milling, research and transpor-tation. Our graduating students and their tour leader, Dr. Oscar Sziklai of the U.B.C. faculty of forestry had a real in-depth study of Quebec forestry methods. The champion loggers from B.C. and myself set up logging sports demon-strations for Quebec loggers in some very remote places in northern Quebec. We were enthusiastically received and we still talk of it when we meet.
....We spent many evenings of that tour sitting with Quebec forestry people and talking the language of log-ging and forestry. We were in a near total French speaking population – in Chicoutimi – but with a little help from a smile, some hand maneuvers and a charming interpreter named Albert Dufour, we made ourselves under-stood and we understood our hosts. There was no barrier, we talked as people interested and concerned for each others’ problems in day to day life
....I wrote two articles at the time for the Lumberman, October / November ’72, about the trip. May I quote a few impressions from those articles of five years ago – in the light of recent events.
....“When a westerner for the first time leaves the cities of Montreal and Quebec City and heads north into the logging areas of the province, it comes as quite a shock that very few Cana-dians there can speak or understand English. Only then does one realize the multitude of problems this difference of language has brought to our country.”
....“I sit and think about the friends I met in the Chicoutimi logging area and I am constantly reminded of the scare headlines and confusion in ordinary citizens’ minds as to “what goes on in Quebec.” The politicians don’t seem to help with their idiotic dialogue in a crisis – as to who is right and who is wrong. I am reminded of our last night in Pamouscatchiou (Price Co. camp of 500 men north of Chicoutimi). There were six B.C. loggers and about six Quebec loggers who were the Price Co. management people. Some could not speak English, some a few words – but of course we had Albert Dufour, our language untangler.”
....“We sat up late and talked of the ever constant problems of loggers – keeping machines repaired and wor-king, holding a crew together, the cold, the heat, the bunkhouse life. We didn’t need to interpret everything – we understood each others’ problems. We simply got to know each other – and isn’t that really what is wrong with English speaking Canadians and French speaking Canadians? We don’t take time to know each other! And couldn’t the problems be better solved by the politicians encouraging our mutual visits instead of playing politics with the situation?”
....One last quote – “Possibly if the
politicians both English and French would stop crying about the so-called English Canadian – French Canadian problem and how to solve it; if those politicians would stop meddling in the situation, we might live together without worries. For we are all Canadians with nothing to fear if we use our common sense.”

....The above quotes of five years ago are certainly not historic. But they reflect this writer’s conversations and observations of the time. Only now – with the chips coming down – have the politicians (and certainly not all of them) realized the consequences of not leading all Canadians to better under-standing of each other in the past.

....There have been many contributing factors to the now apparent English – French problem. So much of that problem could have been averted with just a bit better understanding of the desire of French speaking Canadians to retain their natural heritage and way of living. To speak two official languages in a country is not a rare thing. In fact it is more a common thing. So why have we made such a big deal of it?
....One can only feel pity for the people with a lack of understanding for some-one else’s “rights” – and it is a “right” in Canada to speak English or French – privately or officially.
....No doubt the feeling for separation is stronger in Quebec today than it was a mere five years ago. Some politicians work wonderous ways with their promises of the “Green Fields Syn-drome.” And too many French speak-

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British Columbia Lumberman, May, 1977

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ing Canadian politicians have been aided and abetted in their talk of a separate Quebec by non-understan-ding English speaking politicians.
....Some say the media has “blown up” the situation too much. I disagree. The problem is serious and I can’t see how the media can any further change people’s minds. We do have to, after all, leave it to the intelligence of both English and French speaking Cana-dians to eventually, in some manner, decide whether Canada’s boundaries will remain the same as in confed-eration, or change to newer ones.
....When I remember the mutualness of the visits I had with the people of northern Quebec, I can not understand the real need of separation for Quebec more than I can for Vancouver Island to secede from B.C. It does not make commonsense – and that is what we must really consider – commonsense.
....Some could say that from the view-point of those people deriving a living from the forest industry it would really not make much difference whether Quebec seceded from Canada or not. I feel this is a very short sighted view and one that could lull us all into not getting into action. Provincial boun-daries are one thing, country boun-daries are a far different thing. We would be tampering dangerously with future history if we think otherwise.
....The language boundary of French speaking Canadians does not end on the Ottawa River. The predominant lan-guage spoken in the forest industry of northern Ontario is French. Towns like Hearst, far removed from the boundary of Quebec, speak 80 per cent French. All safety administrators in the Ontario Forest Products Accident Prevention Association must be bilingual as this excellent orga-nization well knows that to speak to forest workers in Ontario, French and English are a necessity. I don’t believe this predominance of French speaking forest workers in Ontario is realized by western Canadians. And it should also be realized that many forest workers in the Masritimes also use French as their language. I would be making a fairly close calculation when I state that half the forest workers in Canada speak French as their first tongue!
....Now, does this not affect the interests of the entire forest industry – whether we speak French or English? Certainly for the Canadians in the
industry it should present a mutual bond of understanding for each other.
....The point I make here is that by taking Quebec out of confederation, the French language, heritage and customs still remain a part of Canada in other provinces. The problem is still not solved when everyone in Canada realizes that both languages are official and that where French is predominant, the business of that area should be done mostly in French. Where the area is mostly English speaking, the business should be mostly done in English.
....It does not mean that people in totally English or French speaking areas have to learn another language. Why should they if they don’t need it in their daily lives? But surely our schools across Canada should be emphasizing the dual language more and more. This is really the only way for us to retain both heritages in future generations.
....Listening to the news these days one gets the feeling that the issue is a struggle between two men – our prime minister and Mr. Levesque. That’s fine, let them conduct the political side of the question of separation. But I feel that unless industry - and of course the public – speaks out and joins the debate, the issues might get clouded in

the political pro and con of these two leaders.
....The forest industry is a Canada wide industry, really unlike any other giant industry in our land. It therefore behooves the people of this industry – and not just its leaders – to join in and determine which is the best road to follow. Our industry has much at stake in this “Great Decision.”
....Research of the forests, fire prevention of the forests at the boun-daries, possible future tariffs, co-ordin-ation of markets, standards for the people of the industry. All these points and many more are at stake in this “Great Decision.” It’s not just a political issue, it is a forest industry issue that affects the forests around us in Canada.
....I hope the people of this industry, together with others, will feel the vital importance of the issue and use the commonsense that is necessary to both French and English speaking woods people in their daily work – to keep one Canada - and one forest industry – together.
.........................Keep out of the bight,

British Columbia Lumberman, May, 1977  
page 57