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.

The phrase Speak White was recorded as anecdotal evidence by André Laurendeau in his 1963 journal during the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission as a phrase that English Canadians would hurl at French Canadians outside Quebec, and speculated that it was borrowed from the Southern United States.[1] Anecdotal evidence also suggests that the phrase was used against immigrants.[2] A French language poem by French-speaking Quebecer Michèle Lalonde published in 1974 denounced the poor situation of francophone people in Quebec and takes the tone of a collective complaint against English-speaking Quebecers.[3][not in citation given][4][not in citation given]

The 1980 short film Speak White by filmmakers Pierre Falardeau and Julien Poulin features actress Marie Eykel reading Lalonde's poem. It was released by the National Film Board of Canada.[citation needed]

In 1989, the Italian-Quebecer journalist and playwright Marco Micone wrote a poem in response called Speak What?, depicting allophone immigrants as the same oppressed class as the Québécois in Quebec, and calling for a more inclusive society.[5] The poem "Speak White" is an integral part of a one-man play by Robert Lepage "887" which premiered in Toronto in 2015, and was also performed in August 2015 at the Edinburgh International Arts Festival in Scotland.[citation needed]

In 2005 it was mentioned in a eulogy for a politician as having at one time been an insult against those who speak French in New Brunswick.[6]


  1. ^ 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.[]
  2. ^ Larry Zolf, "Speak white"., CBC News. 7 March 2007. Summary, Full version still available on Vigile.net Archived 2013-06-22 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Canadian literature: The 'Quiet Revolution'". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-08.
  4. ^ Bilan du Siècle (fr)
  5. ^ "Canadian Literature: The cosmopolitan culture of French Canada and Quebec". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-08.
  6. ^ Debates - Issue 29 - February 1, 2005, SENATORS' STATEMENTS

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