When we think of the women who inhabit our history, we tend too much to imagine them discreet, silent and timid, leading a life in sepia color like the frozen portraits that remain.
However, their life was well and truly colorful, carried by the audacity and the outbursts of voice that Gilles Proulx gives them back with his book. The Audacious who shaped Quebec, which he presented yesterday in our pages.
They didn’t need a male writer’s pen to speak. Irma Levasseur’s speech still resonates at the Sainte-Justine hospital that she founded. The life of Émilie Fortin-Tremblay, Alma’s granddaughter who rushed for gold in the Yukon, is a self-written TV series.
However, we have been lazy to recognize the place that they deserve in the builders of our history. We were not willing enough to build monuments for them and to give their names to streets or bridges. We had forgotten them, as Gilles Proulx himself admits and as the anthropologist Serge Bouchard has often recalled when he recounted several “remarkable ones”.
We must reappropriate this heritage, once propelled by values that can be described as feminist, but which have nevertheless helped to build our entire society. It is a rich lesson for the future.
It is not a question of remaking history to make it equal. The contribution of women in our story is there, it already exists. It just remains to tell it to yourself.
We wanted to confine it to the private sphere of families and it was neglected by those who kept the records.
But if only in the language we speak, the voice of all forgotten mothers can be heard.
Because the portraits in these sepia-colored photos are not of dead people. These are lively faces that resemble those of our blondes, sisters, daughters and mothers. How better to celebrate the current and future contribution of Quebec women than by recalling the one they have always made?