This book examines the Franco-Ontarian reality through the telling of an individual journey, that is representative of a generation. This account integrates autobiography, reflection, readings and research. A contemplation on the University of Ottawa and its historical role, which is the culmination of this particular journey, is the primary theme of the book. Its fundamental question: what does it mean to be Franco-Ontarian? Does it still make sense to hold on to a particular collective identity? Identities are often deadly, unfortunately, as history reveals.
In the absolute, we are all human, brothers and sisters, fragile, destined for certain death, dust in the infinite, insignificant in space-time. "What is a man in infinity?" Pascal would have said. Why, then, should we cling to our particularities, drape them over ourselves with pride, or brandish them as banners? It's to glory in the accidents of one's selfhood, the chance of one's birth, the contingencies of one's true nature, that of being a human among other humans.
And yet, nothing can be done about it. We can't choose our roots: they were there before we were born, and they pushed us towards the light. Everyone comes from a family, a group, a space, a culture, a people, and a nation. For we are not abstractions, nor pure spirits. We are embodied in a collective. The individual carries the group within him, and vice versa. With all the wealth and suffering that entails.
Robert Major is a native of Temiskaming (Témiscamingue), Ontario. Born and raised as a Franco-Ontarian but a defector, since he has lived in the Outaouais region of Quebec for fifty years! All while forging a career at the University of Ottawa. Thus straddling the border: an uncomfortable position, like any division, but one that provokes reflection and a confusion of identities...