If you follow Quebec politics, you’ve probably heard the word “woke” being used, especially this week, when many have been offering their own definition of the word.
It was all sparked by Quebec Premier François Legault and Quebec Solidaire’s Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.
Legault accused Nadeau-Dubois of being “woke” after he drew comparisons between Legault and former Quebec premier Maurice Duplessis, known for his ultra-nationalist and conservative policies.
Then on Thursday, Legault continued the conversation, offering his own definition of the word.
“For me, a ‘woke’ person is someone who wants to make us feel guilty about defending Quebec, its values, just like we did with Bill 21,” he said.
Nadeau-Dubois responded on Twitter by posting a cheeky picture of himself with a wok in hand, saying he doesn’t know what Legault has against woks.
“I use mine every week,” he joked, inviting people to become a member of his party.
The debate over the word has also spilled over into municipal politics.
Valérie Plante was asked on Thursday and Friday if she is “woke”.
“I won’t reply to that,” Plante said Thursday. “What saddens me is that these words become insults where there is no room for dialogue.”
So what does the term really mean?
It goes back to the 1930s, when the phrase “stay woke” was used in the United States, referring to being aware of issues affecting African-Americans, especially racial prejudice and discrimination.
Most recently, it was used during the Black Lives Matter movement to encourage people to stay vigilant when it comes to police brutality.
Lately, some people have picked up the word and started using it to criticize.
“So they turned something that was a catch-all phrase into a derogatory term that means you’re overly sensitive, you’re unaware of the consequences of your actions,” said political analyst Karim Boulos.
“When an older person uses woke, it’s clearly a derogatory term. It’s an easy, a new form of ageism.”
Boulos says he expects the use of the word in politics to fizz out but for now, it’s safe to call “woke” the word of the week in Quebec.