The thesis statement "The 1980 and 1995 referendums in Quebec to separate from Canada was a significant event in Canadian History" should be revised to give an indication of how they were significant to Canadian history.
The 1980 referendum formally posed the idea of Quebec's sovereignty from Canada. Rene Levesque asked his fellow Quebecois to mandate the negotiate for "sovereignty-association" for Quebec. Since Quebec was distinct in its language, its political outlook, and its culture, perhaps separation from Canada was an option. While the resulting vote proved unsuccessful, the impact of the referendum stems not so much from its success, but from the subsequent political history of Canada, particularly concerning the future of Quebec. The 1980 referendum ensured that the sovereignty of Quebec would continue to be a question in need of a solution.
In 1995, the vote proved even narrower than the one held in 1980, thus making the question of Quebec's role in the Canadian confederation even more uncertain. As a result of the 1995 referendum, Parliament recognized Quebec as a distinct society with its own language, culture, and customs. This acknowledgement is extremely important in terms of Quebec's separatism. What this does is set Quebec apart from the other Canadian provinces and set the stage for the question of Quebec's separatism to continue. From this measure, it is clear that Parliament is williing to grant Quebec a degree of separation, albeit not political separation.
The other two initiatives in the 1995 referendum focus on granting even more power formerly held by the Canadian government to the provincial government in Quebec. Like the first initiative, the second and third initiatives only continue to keep the question of Quebec's sovereignty open.
The importance of the 1980 referendum for the question of Quebec's separatism cannot be underestimated. It served as the formal declaration that it would be a matter the Canadian government must address, setting up the referendum 15 years later. Ultimately, the fact that the 1995 referendum failed by less than a 1% margin gives clear evidence to the importance of Quebec's separatism, particularly among the residents of Quebec. In addition, the Canadian government acknowledging Quebec's push for sovereignty, granting them the recognition of being a distinct society with its own language and culture demonstrates the significance of the 1995 referendum for the question of Quebec's sovereignty.