Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, 2014 Canada Council laureate – Governor General’s Literary Awards

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, 2014 Canada Council laureate – Governor General’s Literary Awards


The inspiration for Tenir tête
will of course surprise no one. It was the events that
took place in 2012. I emerged from that movement
feeling profoundly sad. Sad because of
everything that was said, especially in most of the major
media, about the movement. And worried, as well – worried
that what would remain, the historical record that would
remain of our mobilization, would be all the invective
spewed upon the citizens who joined forces in 2012. I was afraid that
this would be all that people remembered
of the 2012 protests. The question I asked myself
was how I could contribute to a different account of the
story of the strike of 2012. It was Walter Benjamin who
said that history is a battle, and culture is the plunder. I did not want the historical
record of our movement to be left in the hands of those who criticized it
for months on end. I wanted to contribute to
preserving the memory, humbly, to the best of my
ability, and of course, from my own perspective. I wanted to contribute by
writing a personal testimony by someone who was involved
in this mobilization, in the very specific
role of spokesperson, rather than simply from the
point of view of an activist – it was important for me
to set down this account and participate in the
recording of events. The book took over a year
to write, which allowed me to take stock from a
critical perspective. I think this is apparent to
people who read the book; this is not a tract
justifying what happened in the student movement of 2012. We made mistakes, inevitably, and I talk about
them in the book. So yes, the work of writing
allowed me to face up to those mistakes and
learn certain lessons about political engagement,
about the meaning of my own political engagement,
and about what I want to do in the years ahead. What surprised me in
everything that has happened since the publication
– the writing, as well, all of the conferences,
all the discussions I have taken part in,
all the book fairs – has been the opportunity
to meet the readers. The great surprise in all
this has been the extent to which people from
all walks of life, from so many different
groups, participated in the mobilization and are
still reflecting today on what this can
teach us about Quebec. In public discussions and
public meetings at book fairs, it’s fascinating to
see that the people who come up to me are
from all backgrounds. From all of the different
regions, obviously, but ranging as well
from university professors to construction workers, from nurses to
first-generation immigrants, from 80-year-olds
to adolescents. For me this was so refreshing
and so great to see, to talk politics with people
from all walks of life and all generations. And this for me is
extremely reassuring, since it shows me that it is
not true that our mobilization was restricted to a few
select groups in Montreal. A lot of people were
talking about it and are talking about it still. I was proud and happy
to see that my book was circulating amongst
so many different people, and that I was not
speaking only to my friends or preaching to the converted. This was very comforting,
and I am very happy about it.

One thought on “Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, 2014 Canada Council laureate – Governor General’s Literary Awards”

  • this guy has contributed anything to Canadian society…..if he wants to protest something, go to China and clean up the environment…leave Canadians alone…they need jobs to provide for their families…..go fight ISIS….bone head

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