Montreal musicians visit French classes

By Dave Heaton

A father and son team of French-Canadian musicians from Montreal gave a musical and political presentation to NIU French students Monday.

Fernand Robidoux and his son, Michel Robidoux, gave presentations to three different French conversation classes. The two discussed their views on the impending secession of the province of Quebec from Canada and gave students a short musical performance.

Fernand said ten years ago a poll in Quebec showed that 60 percent of the people were against secession. However, a more recent poll taken last week indicated that 60 percent want Quebec to gain independence, he said.

He said the laws made by the English majority do not suit the French minority. “I want to live in a real country of my own,” he said, “not one where the rules are set by someone else.”

Michel said that Quebec was the only province to pay a federal income tax as well as a provincial income tax.

“We are a distinct society in Quebec,” Michel said. “I feel that I live in a French culture. Quebec is my country, not my province.”

NIU students responded favorably to the presentation. One French student, Kim Thommes, said she enjoyed talking with them.

“Overall, we understood what they were saying, except for a few unfamiliar phrases. It was interesting to get a second point of view. We considered it a treat to meet and talk with Fernand and Michel.”

NIU French Professor Susan Boldrey said the pair has given presentations to her classes in the past. She said she has learned much about the French-Canadian culture.

“As Americans we need to be open to other languages and culture,” she said. “Students should be aware that (knowing) French and other languages opens up opportunities not only in Europe but also in the United States.”

Michel and Fernand have been performing together since 1988. They are highly renowned throughout Canada and especially in the province of Quebec.

In addition, Fernand has previously written for television and radio. Fernand was the editor for two magazines, “La Presse” and “La Semaine.”