Get to know who we are, how we operate, and what our main goals are!
1. What does AQI do exactly?
In order to achieve its mission, AQI adopted an Action Plan. AQI’s purpose is to act as:
A Resource Centre to provide information about the Québec independence movement;
A Speakers’ Bureau to organize and coordinate public meetings and addresses in English-speaking venues, such as colleges and universities;
A Truth Squad to demystify inaccurate stories about Quebec and to answer insulting attacks, including the tired accusation that Quebecers are racist or xenophobic;
A Media Watch to intervene in public debate with timely responses to current events.
The Mission Statement and the Action Plan were adopted by unanimous consent of all members during a regular meeting.
2. Who founded AQI?
The driving force behind the creation of AQI is Jennifer Drouin, Associate Professor of English literature and author of Shakespeare in Québec: Nation, Gender and Adaptation.
3. When was AQI founded?
In June 2015, Jennifer Drouin began working to create a group of, by, and for anglophones sovereignists. After over a year of groundwork, Anglophones for Québec Independence (AQI) was registered as a non-partisan, non-profit organization on 12 September 2016. The press conference announcing its existence was held in Montréal on 23 September 2016.
4. Why was AQI founded?
There have always been and there always will be anglophones in favour of Québec independence. The time had come, therefore, to re-create a non-partisan group in order to provide a safe space for them to come together, feel less alone, and speak with a collective voice.
AQI is not the first group of anglophone sovereignists. Similar groups existed during the 1980 and 1995 referendum campaigns. In 1980, the Committee of Anglophones for Sovereignty-Association identified 200 anglophones sympathetic to the cause. After the referendum, the Parti Québécois set up a National Anglophone Committee, led by political science professor Henry Milner. In 2004, Jennifer Drouin founded the Comité souverainiste de McGill, which included many anglophones.
5. Is AQI a creation of the Parti Québécois?
No. AQI is non-partisan. In June 2015, Jennifer Drouin took the initiative to find like-minded individuals in order to create AQI. The group is entirely the product of the anglophone founding members who worked for over a year to recruit other members, establish governing procedures, write collaboratively their Mission Statement, devise an Action Plan, build a website, and hold their “coming out” press conference.
6. What are AQI’s membership criteria?
To become a member of AQI, a person must: (1) be an anglophone; (2) be a sovereignist; (3) adhere to the values of the Mission Statement; and (4); not engage in behaviour that constitutes discrimination under section 10 of Québec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
7. What is AQI’s definition of “anglophone”?
AQI has adopted a loose definition of “anglophone” that may include people whose first language is English, people who grew up in bilingual families with one English-speaking parent and one parent who spoke another language, people from regions where they were forced to live in English due to a lack of public services in French, and anyone else who is perfectly fluent in English and self-identifies as anglophone. AQI does not impose a strict test on its members. The vast majority of members did, however, grow up with English as their first language.
8. Are all AQI members born in Québec?
Many were born in Québec. Others moved here later in life. However, the value of a person’s opinion on Québec independence should not be judged on the basis of whether or not he or she was born in Québec. For René Lévesque, the first sovereignist Premier of Québec – whom many people forget was born in New Brunswick – a “Québécois” is anyone who resides permanently in Québec and embraces its common public culture, regardless of place of birth, first language, ethnic ancestry, or religion. As permanent residents of Québec, who hold Québec driver’s licences and health care cards, AQI members are qualified electors according to Le Directeur Général des Élections du Québec (DGÉ) and thus fully entitled to intervene in public debates about Québec’s political future.
9. Is there a fee to become a member of AQI?
Yes. At the moment, annual membership dues are $5.00, payable in cash during attendance at a regular meeting or payable online by credit card through PayPal on our Donations page. Membership dues help AQI achieve its mission by covering incidental expenses, such as news wire releases or space rentals, as well as the monthly costs associated with maintaining this website. Additional donations from members and non-members are greatly appreciated.
10. Is AQI a political party, or is it planning on becoming one?
No. AQI is and will remain a non-partisan, non-profit, grassroots organization dedicated to promoting Québec independence in English.
11. Does AQI support the Parti Québécois, Québec Solidaire, Option Nationale, and/or the Bloc Québécois?
As a non-partisan group, AQI was created in the spirit of “convergence” of sovereignist parties. AQI may occasionally collaborate with political parties to promote Québec independence; however, it seeks to treat all sovereignist parties equally. AQI believes that independence is a noble goal that requires all sovereignists to work together for the common good. As an umbrella group for all anglophone sovereignists, AQI does not require its members to belong to any particular party. All AQI members are free to support the political party of their choice or none at all.
12. Can an anglophone who remains unsure about the importance of Québec independence join AQI?
No. AQI’s Mission Statement concludes with the following sentence: “We are proud to be sovereignists, and we are not afraid to say that in the next referendum we will vote ‘YES’!” As such, all members of AQI must already be convinced that there is “a wide range of cultural, economic, ecological, historical, political, and social reasons why Québec should become independent” when they become members. However, since our goal is to promote the benefits of independence, AQI is happy to discuss the reasons for independence with anglophones who are on the fence about the issue and occasionally admit such people to its private online forums, provided they agree to respect the collective wish of AQI members to focus their time and energy on achieving the group’s mission.
13. Does AQI endorse a particular strategy to achieve Québec independence?
No. AQI is dedicated to promoting the case for Québec independence in English and leaves to political parties the task of elaborating strategies to enable Québec to become a viable independent state peacefully and democratically. AQI members are free to hold and express different opinions on what is the best strategy to adopt in order to achieve Québec independence.
14. Does AQI support Bill 101?
Yes. AQI’s Mission Statement includes the following sentence: “We love and respect the French language, and we are committed to protecting it and helping it flourish.” The Charter of the French Language (Charte de la langue française), also known as Bill 101 (Loi 101), is the central piece of legislation that ensures the protection of French in Québec. As explained on our “Why Independence?” page, Bill 101 is also an important tool for the protection of anglophone rights.
15. Does AQI support the Charter of Values?
As an organization, AQI is neutral on the subject. AQI did not exist during the national debate about a Charter affirming the values of State securalism and religious neutrality (Charte affirmant les valeurs de laïcité et de neutralité religieuse) that was proposed but never adopted. AQI members are free to hold and express different views about whether or not the proposed bill was good policy and whether or not another version of the bill should be adopted in the future.
16. Is AQI open to internal debate about sensitive issues within the Québec independence movement?
Yes, but only in a proper setting to ensure that these important debates are constructive. AQI’s current private online forums serve primarily as safe spaces for members to get to know each other and explore how they can collaborate to achieve the group’s mission. Debates about particular political positions are reserved for our regular face-to-face meetings. Members who cannot attend in person are free to participate via video chat.
17. Is AQI an elaborate joke?
No. We’re real. We’re here. Get used to it! 🙂