Slogan of the Quebec Separatists from the early 1960s on. During the early years of separatist activity, spray-painted graffiti of “Vive le Quebec Libre!” could be found throughout Montreal. It mimicked similar chants of independence movements in Africa and the Caribbean, as those regions rapidly decolonized in the heady Post-War years of independence movements and anti-colonialism.
In Quebec, “Vive le Quebec Libre!” was also chanted at pro-separatist rallies and protests, interchangeable with another popular chant of the period: “Le Quebec au Quebecois!” (“Quebec Belongs to Quebeckers!”). The slogan received global exposure on July 24, 1967, when iconic French President Charles De Gaulle, in Canada to celebrate the country’s centennial and visit Expo 67, shouted “Vive le Quebec Libre !”1 from the balcony at Montreal City Hall.
Quebec Separatists were delighted. Federalists – and English Canadians in general – were horrified and hopping mad. Prime Minister Lester Pearson cut short the French President’s visit, by cancelling the Ottawa portion, essentially sending De Gaulle packing.
It was the one wet firecracker in Canada’s 100th birthday bash – and a harbinger of the escalating battle to come over Quebec’s future.