In 1763, France ceded Quebec to Britain. As a British territory, and then a province of Canada, Quebec nevertheless retained its French-language identity.
In May 1980, it held a referendum on the creation of a new, loose relationship with Canada that would essentially be based on independence – but with certain shared functions, such as a currency.
Although this plan was defeated by 59.6% to 40.4%, calls for change continued to grow. 15 years later, in 1995, another referendum was held. This time, the proposal was for full independence.
On this occasion, the proposal was defeated by the narrowest of margins: 50.6% to 49.4%. Since then, however, support for independence appears to have dropped.
Polls now show that around 30 percent of the roughly 8.5 million Quebecois are in favor of breaking away. Instead, priorities seem to be focused on retaining a French identity within Canada and pursuing greater cultural and economic autonomy – rather than outright independence.
Nevertheless, despite its apparently subdued state, there is undoubtedly the possibility that the pro-independence campaign may see a resurgence again in the future.
Meanwhile, it remains a very familiar independence campaign and without a doubt the most significant movement for sovereign statehood in the Americas.