Saturday, February 07, 2009

Quebec skroos little children again

The UNESCO Convention/Recommendation against Discrimination in Education, of which Canada (federal government and provincial governments) are bound, states that in the absence of choice, the establishment or maintenance, for linguistic reasons, of separate educational systems or institutions is discriminatory by definition.

In Quebec, children of French-speaking parents are prohibited from attending English-language schools. English-speaking immigrant children (say, from the US or UK) are forced into French-language schools. The right to attend an English-language public school in Quebec is hereditary, passed from parents to their children.

Quebec is violating the UNESCO Convention/Recommendation against Discrimination in Education because it limits choice.

But being Quebec, the intelligentsia accepts this and doesn't make much fuss. Even the English-speaking community whose school population has atrophied in the last 30 years puts up with it. Occasionally, there are moments of clarity, when the full scope of the absurdity of Quebec restrictions are clear for all to see.

Such a moment happened last week when newspapers reported on an English-speaking Quebec kid who is being forced out of his English-language school, even though his parents were born in Canada and speak English as their first language. His anglophone mother went to French-language school in Quebec when she was a kid, an act which (ironically) has limited options for his son. But as long as the kid can prove his dad went to English-language school anywhere in Canada he'll be okay.

The kid's estranged father was raised in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. He was English-speaking. He went to English-language school his whole life. The grandmother has confirmed this seemingly obvious fact. But not all the records are available for the father. In one case, there was a fire and records were lost. In another, the school board destroys records once the former student is age 30. So, the kid cannot prove his dad went to English-language school in Alberta, Saskatchewan and BC.

Now that this case is in the media, perhaps an exception will be made. How many other stories like this go unreported?

It is 2009. Elsewhere in the universe, a black man was elected president of the United States, Iraq is holding free elections but in Quebec, it's the same old crappola.

'Bureaucratic b.s.' could force Montrealer from English school
By Brenda Branwell
Montreal Gazette
February 2, 2009

MONTREAL - An 11-year-old Montreal boy faces the prospect of being booted out of his English elementary school - all because of “bureaucratic b.s.” and one missing signature, his mother contends.

A Quebec government committee ruled that Kyle Wozniak, who turns 11 Tuesday, isn’t eligible to attend English school.

He started his education in French but in September, switched to Willingdon School in the Montreal community of Notre Dame de Grace.

The government committee explained its decision, citing a lack of proof that Kyle’s parents received the “major part” of primary education in English in Canada. It’s an eligibility requirement for English education under Quebec’s French Language Charter.

Wozniak, who went to French school, insists Kyle’s biological father did all his schooling in English.

But they’ve been estranged since Kyle was an infant and Wozniak says she hasn’t been able to reach him for an affidavit about the boy’s schooling.

With help from his mother Brenda Romanuck in Alberta, the English Montreal School Board nailed down some proof - Kyle’s father attended Grades 3 and 4 in English in Saskatoon as well as English high school.

But the search for records from two other elementary schools the father attended hit a dead end. The board learned there were no school records at a British Columbia school because of a fire in the 1970s. And a school in Stony Plain, Alta., destroys records once a former student reaches the age of 30.

“How much more proof do you need?” an agitated Wozniak said Monday. “Do you need a urine or a stool sample to prove that the guy is English?”

The government committee ruled that Kyle has to attend French school. The English Montreal School Board says it has been instructed by the Education Department to remove Kyle, a Grade 5 student, from their system.

“We hope somebody at the Ministry of Education who handles these cases will do justice by this child,” Angela Mancini, the board’s chair, said in a statement.

Reached Monday in St. Albert, Alta., Romanuck said her son did all his schooling in English. “Yes, absolutely,” she said. Romanuck said it seems no matter how much information they try to provide about her son’s schooling: “It’s just never enough.”

A spokesperson at the Education Department said they do not comment on individual cases for confidentiality reasons.

Wozniak said her son had difficulties in French school but is thriving in his English school. “I don’t care if they call the cops. They’re not going to pull my son out of that school,” she said.


Anonymous said...

There was no exceptions made in my son's case! Perhaps if the staff at the Ministry would add a cup of "All Bran" to their cereal in the morning, all of this could have been avoided!
But the fact remains, had it not been for my ex to finally sign the dotted line, my son would have been forced out of his school!
I would like to point out a very important son's school is not an English school, as his classes are mixed, 60% in French and only 40% in English! The reason why I pulled him out of the "French System" was simple, they have let him down and allowed him to fail! Their excuse was simple, the teacher even said it quite clearly to me, "I have 25 other students in my class, your son is not my only concern!" Not exactly what a mother wishes to hear when pleaded for HELP!
Also, my son was sent to detention for having spoken English on school grounds during recess! This was the last straw for me!
I have no problems with the French language, as any second or third language is an asset, but what I didn't accept, was the "system" and how it truly turned against my son!
At his new school, my son is still learning French, but without the added pressure of being bullied, put down or ignored for being an Anglo child!
Thank you for your blog post! I truly appreciate seeing my son's story being told!

Anonymous said...

What is truly interesting is that all these people who are so worried about Québec's restrictions on the right to attend publicly funded english-language schools never seem to worry about the fact that Chinese Canadians don't have the right to public schools in their language. Or Romanian Canadians. Or Ukranian Canadians.

No one thinks that the fact that Americans don't have the right to choose Spanish-language publicly-funded schools for their children is a violation of anyones rights.

No. It's quite clear the only rights that are universal in North America are the rights of English-speakers. The rights of all other communities, French, Spanish,Native, Asian, immigrant are only real as long as they have no effect on the Anglos way of life.

Anonymous said...

"Now that this case is in the media, perhaps an exception will be made. How many other stories like this go unreported?"

It would of been nice to finish the article this way. But it didn't.

"It is 2009. Elsewhere in the universe, a black man was elected president of the United States, Iraq is holding free elections but in Quebec, it's the same old crappola."

The sub-text refers to a form of intolerance in Quebec that is not argued but simply dropped like a bomb. Watch those preconceptions, they can easily become racist remarques.

Michael said...

Well the difference between Cantonese, mandarin, Spanish etc. compared with French and English is simple. THESE AREN'T CANADA'S OFFICIAL LANGUAGES!! but wait...not in Quebec!

I'm born and raised in Montreal, my first language is French and I have plenty of francophone friends. I moved to Toronto because I think Quebec is a xenophobic, intolerant, antibusiness, overtaxed, immature, selfish, backward society with a terrible terrible health care system, corrupted governments at every levels...Do I need to say more?

Here's the French version now:

La différence avec le Cantonais, Mandarin espagnol ect. est qu'ils ne font pas partis des Langues Officielles du Canada. Mais bien sur au Quebec c'est different!!!

Je suis né a Montreal, ma langue maternelle est le Francais. J'ai déménage a Toronto parce que je crois que le Quebec est devenu une société xénophobe, intolérante, anti-business, surtaxé, immature et égoïste sans compter un gouvernement corrompu, un système de santé absolument terrible....Ai-je vraiment besoin d'en ajouter?

Je vous dis bravo! Vous réussissez même a faire fuir des francophones.