Immigrants to an independent Quebec will have to learn French before they get their citizenship, suggests the Mouvement national des Quebecois.

“When we separate from Canada, it’s French that will be the only official language of Quebec,” said the group’s president, Louise Laurin. With 200,000 members, the MNQ is one of the main

nationalist groups in Quebec. Laurin appeared in Ottawa before a parliamentary committee studying changes to the Canada Citizenship Act.

In its brief, the MNQ suggests that “learning French should be, for Quebec, a condition for getting citizenship.”

The Nation called the MNQ to ask them how this policy would affect First Nations. “This is an excellent question,” said Denis Marion, project coordinator at the MNQ. “We are just starting to think about that. We don’t have a policy on aboriginal people.”

But Marion said he believes the First Peoples have “rights as nations,” and they wouldn’t have to learn French to be Quebec citizens. In fact, he said the Quebec government should help promote First Nations languages and cultures.

“I don’t think we can put First Nations in the same package as everyone else,” he said.

Asked if First Nations have the right to separate from an independent Quebec, Marion said the MNQ doesn’t have a policy on this either. But he added, “We think Quebec’s borders are here to stay.”