Speak White

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Speak White
Directed byPierre Falardeau
Julien Poulin
Written byMichèle Lalonde (poem)
Release date
  • 1980 (1980)
Running time
Short: 6 min.

Speak White is a six-minute film released in 1980.[1] It consists of a montage of photos and the reading of the eponymous French-language poem written by French-speaking Quebecer Michèle Lalonde. The poem had been published in 1974.

The text denounces the situation of Quebec francophones in regard to Quebec anglophones. However, English Canada is not the main target of complaint. The text denounces the economic and cultural imperialism of dominant social classes worldwide.[2]

In 1964, during the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission, the phrase was described in a private journal by Le Devoir publisher André Laurendeau as an insult to people heard speaking French. He noted that fellow commissioner Frank Scott, Dean of Law at McGill University, and translator of French poetry to English, was sceptical about its usage, and thought it was an Americanism. Laurendeau speculated that the insult had more to do with xenophobia in general rather than French Canadians in particular.[3]

In 2005 the phrase was mentioned in a eulogy for Acadian politician Louis Robichaud as having at one time been an insult against those who speak French in New Brunswick.[4]

The poem was central to Robert Lepage's autobiographical play 887.[5]


  1. ^ "Speak White". National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 1 March 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Speak White (1980)". IMDb. Retrieved 1 March 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Monière, Denis (1983). André Laurendeau et le destin d'un peuple. Saguenay, Canada: Bibliothèque Paul-Émile-Boulet de l'Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. p. 324.[]
  4. ^ Debates - Issue 29 - February 1, 2005, SENATORS' STATEMENTS
  5. ^ Sundaram, Chantal. "Speak White: Robert LePage remembers Quebec". International Socialists. Retrieved 1 March 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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