University of Washington

Québec Unit

The Canadian Studies Center is home to the U.W.'s Québec Unit focused on raising the visibility of Québec in research, teaching, and community engagement on campus and in the greater community.

Québec News

June 2015
URBDP 498 Comparative Urban Planning and Design, Student Comments 
The following is a culmination of the student comments from the their travels to Québec as part of the URBDP 498 course. These comments illustrate the value of the field course to the understanding and future research and careers of the participating
students. More ...

Spring 2014
La Famille Léger Releases New Album 
La Famille Léger just released a brand-new album, L'Etoile du Nord, drawn from their research and travels. More ...

February 2014
“Qui sommes-nous?” UW Course Explores Quest for Identity in Québécois Identity and Culture
by Annie Banel, Reporter, Canadian Studies Center, Graduate Student, Evans School of Public Affairs
This quarter UW students will study how Québécois writers and filmmakers coped with the rapid and radical changes of the 1960s’ Quiet Revolution in the course “Québécois Literature.” More ...

May 2013
Visiting Professor, Joël Plouffe Visits Communication Class COM 201
by Natalie Debray, Communications, UW Lecturer
In Introduction to Communication I students are introduced to the history of mass communication and how the usage of various traditional media have changed in the new media context. More ...

March 2013
Joël Plouffe Gives Talk at Western Washington University, "The Arctic Dimension to Canada’s Foreign Policy"
by Joël Plouffe, Visiting Québec Professor, University of Washington
Joël’s talk looked at how Canada’s foreign policy for the circumpolar world started to emerge in the 1950s as part of bilateral Canadian and American defense relations in the North American Arctic. More ...

July 2012
Center Awarded Government of Québec Grants
The Canadian Studies Center was awarded $45,000 from the Government of Québec under the Québec Visiting Professor Grant and Québec Unit Grant. More...
              


June 2015
URBDP 498 Comparative Urban Planning and Design, Student Comments

The following is a culmination of the student comments from the their travels to Québec as part of the URBDP 498 course. These comments illustrate the value of the field course to the understanding and future research and careers of the participating students.

“Over all this trip was extremely informative. I learned about how our histories [Québec and the United States] actually have a lot more in common than I thought. Having seen some of the ways of planning for the community I think we could possibly learn a bit from Québec on the ways that the social aspects have been met. In the United States often the social needs are not seen as very well met. Seeing many different sites through out Québec I got to see many different ways that the planning had considered social aspects.” – Dominique Elise Alviar, Bachelor of Landscape Architecture

“Taking this class provided a wonderful opportunity to get to know the history and culture of Québec. By traveling to the three cities [Québec City, Montréal and Ottawa] and hearing the different perspectives, really illustrated Canada’s diversity. The rich culture and appreciation for its history was refreshing. With Canada being our neighbor, I think I take for granted what amazing cities lay just across the border.” – Elena Nicole Bertolucci, Geography Major

“The field trip to Québec was a really enjoyable and informative experience. One aspect that stands out the strongest is the unique quality of Québec as an established French territory in early American history. From a contemporary perspective, it contains a hybrid-like quality that is both European influenced and North American as well … My experience in Canada will now further contribute to my larger conceptions of space and culture.” – Rebecca Christy, Master of Landscape Architecture

“Our tour of Montréal, Ottawa, and Québec City was a wonderful introduction to the rich culture and storied built environment of Québec. My understanding of the creation of housing and the processes of city development was greatly enhanced by the ability to experience each city first-hand and talk to people who study, work with, and are invested in these processes. As a Master student of Architecture with interest in urban planning and development, I understand that city design and development is a complicated topic especially in a place that so vividly remembers the complex socio-political voices that played and continue to play a part in its current state. Because of the tour, I better understand these influences in Québec than I would just reading about them, and can apply this learning in a comparative way to my understanding of the built environment as a whole.” – Emily Darling, Master of Architecture

“I was amazed by the depth of the socio-economic and historical aspects of our conversations and lessons in Québec. It was very enlightening to learn about the unique circumstances that shaped Québec's society and identity and how these forces played out in Montréal and Québec City and the region's relationship with Ottawa and Canada. It was also incredibly informative to gain insight into how these issues have worked to shape the planning culture and policy in Québec's cities and how that has in turn had an impact of those cities urban form. The trip exceeded all of my expectations, both personal and academic and will leave a lasting impact in how I approach issues of Urban Design. I had a fantastic learning experience and I would encourage more American students to visit the region and to study the things that make Québec what it is today.” – Eric Hanna, Master of Architecture

"For me and my fellow classmates this was a rare and special opportunity to visit Québec and to have professors touring and teaching us valuable insights. I would also like to thank the Government of Québec for providing scholarships for this trip. This trip traveling to Montréal, Québec City, and Ottawa was interesting. Québec is a unique region of the world and North America. Even I knew Québec is mainly French speaking, I never expected the scale of French cultural influence among the entire society and its differences from the English-speaking community. I learned plenty in observing and learning from professors on many urban public spaces, flex housing, low-income housing, co-op housing, and tensions and history of the French community. I also learned about what the municipal and provincial governments in Québec and Canada have done to create better communities. Thank you to all professors who give their time to talk about their own cities, we received incredible insights and explanations on the urban planning of each city. For my future I would like to study more on improving the quality of living and sustainability through civil engineering and urban planning, and bring this back to my community.” – Bryan Lok Hin Lee, Bachelor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

“Not only did we have opportunity to travel through Montréal, Québec City and Ottawa, but we were given the history and politics of those cities. With each guest speaker another layer was revealed from historic divisions to social structure. We dove into the culture that is the Québec province. As for me, my personal goal of this trip was to become better acquainted with some of the public spaces but also to interact with the city as much as possible. I did not want to be a tourist and thus, I spent much of my free time just walking, sitting and waiting. There was a method to this practice, for when I camouflage myself into the background of the space; I felt that the real Québec revealed herself. Mothers walked with their children, men sat at bars and women listened to gossip from the day before. These interactions and little movements are what make cities so great. This sort of choreographed dance between people and places are unique and I’m so thankful I got to see Québec’s performance.” – Ekaterina Nazarova, Bachelor of Landscape Architecture

See photos from their trip here


La Famille Léger Releases New Album

La Famille Léger just released a brand-new album, L'Etoile du Nord, drawn from their research and travels. It's chock full of French-Canadian music, mostly from Acadian sources. Louis Léger, the group's patriarch, grew up in both Moncton, New Brunswick, and Québec City, so there are influences from Québec as well. La Famille Léger was also fortunate enough to be invited to the far North of Québec to Nunavik for the Aqpik Jam Festival a few years ago. They've included two tunes learned from Inuit accordionists in Nunavik on the album as well.

La Famille Léger recently played for the Pacific Northwest Canadian Studies Consortium Annual General Meeting. They also played at a reception for Inuk leader Sheila Watt-Cloutier as part of the Future of Ice lecture series. Watt-Cloutier was especially touched by their music. She was born in Nunavik in Northern Québec and her mother was a great Inuit accordionist. In her closing remarks Watt-Cloutier said that hearing La Famille Léger play Acadian music from her home felt as though her mother was present and saying, “You go, girl!”

Born of a time when family and friends would gather in the warmth of the kitchens of Québec and New Brunswick to play and dance time-honored tunes together, La Famille Léger keeps that rich tradition vitally alive. The Légers play the dancing music of French Canada - the music handed down through generations in the New World, the music of back porches and kitchen parties. Patriarch Louis Léger leads the band on the one-row melodeon (a type of button accordion), son Devon plays fiddle, Devon's mom Barbara plays guitar and his wife, Dejah is on piano. This proudly "old school" family band will have your own family dancing and joining in on the fun.

To learn more about La Famille Léger and purchase their new album, L'Etoile du Nord, please go to: http://www.lafamilleleger.com/

Devon Ledger is an affiliated graduate of the Canadian Studies Center (2005). The Canadian Studies Center has a Professional Development Program for Graduate Students enabling any U.W. student from across campus to join the Center as an Affiliated Graduate Student. Affiliated Graduate Students are provided with mentorship and opportunities on cross-border studies.

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“Qui sommes-nous?” UW Course Explores Quest for Identity in Québécois Identity and Culture
by Annie Banel, Reporter, Canadian Studies Center, Graduate Student, Evans School of Public Affairs

Delcourt (far left) and her class, Winter Quarter 2014. 

This quarter UW students will study how Québécois writers and filmmakers coped with the rapid and radical changes of the 1960s’ Quiet Revolution in the course “Québécois Literature.” The class is taught by Associate Professor of French Denyse Delcourt and offered jointly by the French and Italian Studies department and the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. The course is conducted in French and draws on novels, plays, and poetry to explore how artists grapple with the task of representing their complex culture and defining the identity of the new “Québécois,” a term coined in the 1960s. Students will consider the “exhilaration and bewilderment” Québécois writers and filmmakers felt with the disappearance of traditions, the different ways artists define Québécois identity, and the “ambivalent role” played by the past in the quest for a new Québécois identity.

Denyse Delcourt is a writer and a medievalist. She has been teaching at the University of Washington since 1990. Other teaching experiences include Queens (Canada), Emory, Northwestern and Duke universities. Her teaching interests are Old French language and literature, contemporary Québécois literature and French fairy tales.

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Visiting Professor, Joël Plouffe Visits Communication Class COM 201

by Natalie Debray, Communications, UW Lecturer

In COM 201 Introduction to Communication I, students are introduced to the history of mass communication and how the usage of various traditional media have changed in the new media context. Additionally, as a requirement for the Communication major, this survey course introduces students to the discipline of communication and how communication scholars research and discuss the media and the ways in which the media are used by individuals and how they influence society. It is in this context that I invited visiting scholar, Joël Plouffe to come in and speak to my students (all 432 of them!) about how a key topic of the moment, the Arctic, is discussed in the media. Plouffe’s enthusiastic talk not only revealed his passion for the Arctic, but also his concern over how global warming and melting ice are for the first time creating broad accessibility into the pristine region. Plouffe warned that the resultant race for the treasure trove of natural resources in the Arctic is on. The questions posed to the audience are which oil and gas companies will operate there first, and who governs the Arctic? What are the potential outcomes? News coverage of the Arctic now appear with regular frequency in mainstream publications like the New York Times, but also in a plethora of lesser known blogs and regional outlets. For scholars in the field, the Arctic is not a newly discovered gem. But when and how did the Arctic become a trending topic with Facebook pages and Twitter feeds attesting to its popularity? Joel Plouffe provided an intriguing glimpse into this burgeoning region and students were able to see first-hand the concepts of Agenda Setting and Framing at work in an applied setting.

Joël Plouffe, Research Fellow, Center for the United States and Center for Geopolitical Studies, Raoul Dandurand Chair of Strategic and Diplomatic Studies, l’Université du Québec à Montréal, is the U.W.’s 2012-13 Guest Professor from Québec. Joël co-taught the Task Force on Arctic Policy, Plan Nord and Plan Nunavik, provided the Québec Visiting Professor Lecture, and co-chair a symposium on Québec’s role in the Arctic.

Natalie Debray is a Lecturer with the Department of Communication and affiliated faculty of Canadian Studies where she is currently teaching, COM 321/POLS 330 Communication and International Relations, including considerable content on media in Québec. Natalie is an affiliated faculty of the Center. She was a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellow (French) in summers 2001 and 2001 and the 2001-02 academic year.

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Joël Plouffe Gives Talk at Western Washington University, "The Arctic Dimension to Canada’s Foreign Policy"
by Joël Plouffe, Visiting Québec Professor, University of Washington

WWU photo with Joël (left), Don Alper (center) and Chris Sands (right)

Joël’s talk looked at how Canada’s foreign policy for the circumpolar world started to emerge in the 1950s as part of bilateral Canadian and American defense relations in the North American Arctic. While both countries continued to engage bilaterally in that region throughout the 1960s till the 1980s, mainly (but not exclusively) because of the long-lasting legal dispute over the Northwest Passage, the Northern/circumpolar dimension to Canada’s foreign policy as we know it today was born in the early 1990s. Joël’s presentation also looked at how Canada was very active on circumpolar issues throughout the post-cold war period, being a major actor in the creation of the Arctic Council (Canada was the first country to Chair the Arctic Council in 1996 and will be starting its second mandate as Chair of the Arctic Council in May 2013). Today, Joël explained, because of climate change and emerging security issues, Canada is trying desperately to regain a role of influence in the circumpolar north but has yet to fine tune its approach to this changing region and also the changing role of the Arctic Council as the main forum for dialogue in the Arctic and with the rest of the world.

While visiting the Center for Canadian/American Studies at WWU, Joël had various meetings on Québec/US relations and studies with Dr. Don Alper, Director of Canadian American Studies at WWU, and Dr. Christopher Sands, 2013 Ross Distinguished Professor at WWU. In 2010, Joël was Québec Visiting Professor at WWU, teaching Québec Politics and Contemporary Issues. His two appointments in Washington State, at WWU in 2010 and, now, at UW for the Task Force on Arctic Security in 2013 were made possible through government funded grants from the Government of Québec, Ministère des relations internationals du Québec. He is grateful for their valuable support in funding research on Québec/US/Canada/North America related issues, and for allowing Québec scholars to visit and work with American colleagues around the United States.

Joël Plouffe from Université du Québec à Montréal is the 2013 Visiting Québec Professor at the JSIS, UW, co-teaching with Nadine Fabbi from the Canadian Studies Center a Task Force on Arctic Security. He is grateful to be working with Nadine at UW, and the outstanding JSIS IR major students part of the Arctic Task Force.

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Center Awarded Government of Québec Grants

Joël Plouffe, l’Université du Québec à Montréal, is the incoming U.W. Québec Visiting Professor for 2012-13.


The Canadian Studies Center was awarded $45,000 from the Government of Québec under the Québec Visiting Professor Grant and Québec Unit Grant.

The Québec Visiting Professor Grant will enable Joël Plouffe, Research Fellow, Center for the United States and Center for Geopolitical Studies, Raoul Dandurand Chair of Strategic and Diplomatic Studies, l’Université du Québec à Montréal, to serve as the U.W.’s 2012-13 Guest Professor from Québec. Joël will co-teach the Task Force on Arctic Policy, Plan Nord and Plan Nunavik, provide the Québec Visiting Professor Lecture, and co-chair a symposium on Québec’s role in the Arctic.

The Task Force is the flagship course for International Studies majors in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. In Winter Quarter 2013 about 14 U.W. students and two Inuit students from Nunavik, Québec will be part of a team that will write a policy report on the unique relationship between Québec and the Inuit of Nunavik in governing the northern region of the province. Joël will co-teach and co-led the class to Ottawa for a one-week research intensive with Nadine Fabbi, Canadian Studies Center.

Joël will also work with the Center to plan a two-day Arctic symposium focused on Plan Nord assessing the successes and challenges of implementation, the unique relationship Québec has with its northern peoples, and the value of Plan Nord as a model for regional Arctic policies internationally. Québec is unique in that two-thirds of the province constitutes the north, a region twice the size of France. The area is extremely important to the Québec economy. Québec’s north produces three-quarters of Québec’s hydro and provides the majority of the province’s nickel, zinc, iron ore, and much of its gold. It is also home to 120,000 northern residents over one quarter of whom are indigenous peoples including 10,000 Inuit.

In 1975 Cree, Inuit and Québec government signed the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA) to resolve disputes over hydroelectric development in the north. Under the terms of the Agreement the Makivvik Kuapuriisat (Makivik Corporation, ᒪᑭᕝᕕᒃ ᑯᐊᐳᕇᓴᑦ) was formed to administer the compensation funds. According to Jackson School alum, D. Maltais (McGill), “The Inuit have transformed themselves into a strong political actor within Québec and have successfully contested either the legality or the legitimacy of different political and economic projects, giving Québec little choice but to sit down and negotiate so that their rights may be respected and their demands may be heard” (paper presented at the 2011 ACSUS conference, Ottawa). This is certainly evident in a new citizen movement in Nunavik advocating that Inuit support for Plan Nord be withdrawn. These complex issues will continue to unfold as Plan Nord is revised and implemented. These are the challenges that will be addressed at the 2013 University of Washington-l’Université du Québec à Montréal’s Plan Nord Symposium.

The Québec Unit Grant, the second grant awarded to the Canadian Studies Center, will enable the Center to build a stronger teaching and research program in Québec Studies at the U.W. The Center, in conjunction with Urban Design and Planning, College of Built Environments, will create a Québec Unit building on preexisting Québec research, study and programming strengths at the U.W. The Québec Unit will develop four priorities programs: 1) host a symposium on Plan Nord as part of the Center’s Arctic policy studies initiative; 2) enhance URBDP 498 Comparative Urban Planning and Design, an annual joint offering between U.W.’s Urban Design and Planning, l’Université Laval, l’Université du Québec à Montréal, and University of Montréal; 3) create a grant program for U.W. student study-in-Québec opportunities; 4) and, create a Québec research site on the U.W. Libraries and Center websites and purchase collections related to the project.

To achieve these goals Canadian Studies and Urban Design and Planning will build on existing interuniversity collaborations (l’Université Laval, l’Université du Québec à Montréal, and University of Montréal); intra-university partnerships (College of the Environment, Department of French and Italian Studies); and, the Center’s Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship program that supports Québec-based research and French language acquisition.

Fritz Wagner, Urban Design and Planning, and Nadine Fabbi, Canadian Studies Center, are co-PIs on both the Québec Visiting Professor Grant and the Québec Unit Grant.

Funding for the Québec Visiting Professor Grant and the Québec Unit Grant are provided by the Government of Québec, United States University Grant Program.

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Canadian Studies Center
University of Washington
Box 353650
Thomson Hall, Room 503
Seattle, WA 98195-3650
T (206) 221-6374
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canada@uw.edu