In solidarity with the Parti Quebecois and Quebec Solidaire elected officials who refused to take the oath of office to King Charles III in October, the groups Collectif Mon serment and Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal (SSJB) held their own symbolic swearing-in ceremony Saturday at Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church in Montreal.

The ceremony allowed participants to reject subjection to the British monarchy and swear allegiance to the people of Quebec.

"This is an issue that should have been at the heart of our political agenda for a long time," said Sébastien Ricard, spokesperson for the Collectif Mon serment. "We are trying to make the point of view of civil society heard, which has a very important role."

Participants took an oath in two acts and then signed a register, kept for the sake of "archiving the event."

"The validity is certainly symbolic, but for us, the symbolism is really important," said Ricard. "By pronouncing these words, people realize the gravity and solemnity of the moment and of the words, and I believe that it has an impact on them above all."

Since 1867, elected officials have been required to pledge allegiance to the people of Quebec as well as the British Crown to sit in Parliament.


Marie-Anne Alepin, president of the SSJB in Montreal, believes that this citizen ceremony is part of a larger move to liberate from "this archaic institution."

"It is contradictory for elected officials to swear an oath to the king and to the people. The state is secular, and the king emanates from divine right; it is no longer relevant. All parties agree on that," she said.

Alepin believes the initiative shows the desire of the Quebec people to reclaim their history, while not forgetting the events of the past.

"There is a whole violence that is behind this crown, which recalls many horrors," she said. "Colonialism, the First Nations, the patriots exiled from Quebec and imprisoned in Australia [...] We want to detach ourselves from this oath and go further by detaching ourselves completely from the monarchy.

She said the debate is "not a partisan issue."

A demonstration will be held in Quebec City on Nov. 29 -- when parliamentary proceedings in the National Assembly begin -- organized by the SSJB, the Mouvement Québec français and the Coalition for the Abolition of the Monarchy in Quebec, among other groups.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in FrencH on Nov. 19, 2022.