Quebec was originally inhabited by the Algonquian, Iroquois, Inuit and Mohawk people. Some of these groups were nomadic, following their food supply. Others, like the Iroquois, settled along the St. Lawrence to farm. When Jacques Cartier arrived in present day Quebec, via the St. Lawrence, the Iroquois met him with furs to trade. This proves that they had contact with Europeans before Cartier. Cartier claimed the land as a French colony, opening the doors for mass European immigration to Canada.
Quebec City was the first city in Quebec to be established as a permanent settlement, not simply a trading post. It was founded by Samuel De Champlain in 1608, and today is home to some of the oldest buildings in Canada. Although the British eventually seized control of Quebec from France, citizens vehemently protected their French culture. Today, they remain distinctly French-Canadian.
Quebec was one of the first four provinces to officially join Canada in 1867, joining Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The Government of Canada has recognized that the Quebecois form a nation within a united Canada, standing apart from the rest of the country as a distinct entity. While there has been continued discussion about Quebec separating from Canada, nothing has ever been passed.
Something you may not know about Quebec is that it is extremely involved in Space exploration. Some notable Quebecois are Hubert Reeves, an astrophysicist that was awarded the Albert Einstein Medal, Rudolph A. Marcus, a chemist and Nobel Prize laureate and Marc Garneau, the first Canadian in outer space. A Quebec company created the undercarriage of the Apollo Lunar Module, and the Mont Megantic Observatory in Quebec has the second largest telescope in eastern Canada.
Quebec's Canada 150 Celebrations are complicated. CBC News reports, "this year's festivities, ostensibly meant to unite Canadians, have inadvertently shone a spotlight on lingering divisions between Quebec and the rest of Canada... [some] say Canada's big birthday fails to recognize the history of French Canadians before Confederation." This is not a new narrative: many have raised concerns that Canada 150 glosses over the history of indigenous groups, too.
However, Quebec has staunchly recognized that Canada 150 recognizes 150 years since the start of Canadian confederation--it is a celebration of the birth of Canada, a nation united in its storied past. Canada 150 was never meant to gloss over the history of the land prior to Canadian confederation. With this spirit in mind, many people in Quebec are taking time to learn more about the history of their land and how it can be preserved for future generations to know and enjoy.
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