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QCGN Busy Battling Bill 14, Advocating for a Better Roadmap

By Dan Lamoureux
QCGN President

The Quebec Community Groups Network has expanded Network News, turning it into a vehicle to better inform our stakeholders and the wider community about the important issues that we are working on. The newsletter will include an update on major activities as well as some stories about network members, projects and community stakeholders who often toil in the dark doing important work for Quebec’s English-speaking community. Please do not hesitate to share any feedback about this newsletter with me at president@qcgn.ca.

Over the past couple of months QCGN’s main focus has been Bill 14, which Diane De Courcy, minister responsible for the Charter of the French Language, introduced in early December.

The bill proposes major changes to the Charter, known as Bill 101, that affect municipalities, schools (including CEGEPs), and the language of work and the rights of all Quebecers.

Over the past few months the QCGN has consulted with its members and community partners in various sectors including education and health as well as those leading the charge against the attack on bilingual municipalities. We all agree. Bill 14 cannot be saved.  It is an unnecessary piece of legislation that does nothing but revive divisive language debates. 

QCGN’s Board of Directors is totally opposed to amendments in Bill 14 that seek to elevate French to a human right under provincial law. Jurists are concerned the modifications to Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms would place the collective aspirations of a French Quebec in conflict with the individual rights and freedoms of all citizens.  We are also concerned about the impact this proposed legislation could have on our institutions from municipalities to schools.

Our Board believes that no coherent argument has been made to explain why this reinforcement of the Charter is necessary and we fear that Quebec’s English-speaking communities are again bearing the brunt of a legislative over-reaction to insecurities about the future of the French language.

Find Constructive Solutions
For the most part, Quebec’s English-speaking Quebecers understand the need to protect the French language.  Rather than causing French-speaking and English-speaking Quebecers to drift further apart by tinkering with conflict-ridden legislation, Quebec’s government should be thinking of constructive ways to enhance mutual empathy between our two communities.  Over the past months, many Quebec leaders have stated that the English-speaking community is an asset to Quebec. If we are indeed an asset, we need to be recognized and respected as a linguistic minority that participates in and contributes to the social, economic, cultural and political life of Quebec. This piece of legislation will not lead us there.

During the drafting of Bill 14, and in the time following its introduction in the National Assembly, the QCGN has met with Mme. De Courcy and Jean-François Lisée, the minister responsible for relations with the English-speaking community, to sensitize them to the concerns of our English-speaking communities. We plan to continue to pressure them to eradicate this bill.

We also met with Liberal MNAs Geoffrey Kelley and Marc Tanguay; Gérard Deltell and Nathalie Roy of the Coalition Avenir Québec, as well as Françoise David of Québec Solidaire to discuss our concerns. During all of these discussions we have stated our community’s opposition to any reinforcement of the Charter of the French Language.  At the forefront of our message has been the importance of our community's institutions, our demand for their continued protection under the law, and the need for Quebec to appreciate and support its English-speaking minority.

The QCGN will continue to advocate on the community's behalf to defeat this destructive piece of legislation that robs all Quebecers of their democratic rights. You can read the QCGN’s brief here. I encourage you to read the bill, to participate in the surrounding public consultations (details here), and to contact your local MNA to ensure that Bill 14 is defeated or dies on the Order Paper.

A Roadmap for Our Future
While we have been working more and more with provincial government partners, the QCGN has also been diligently pursing our work with the Government of Canada which is in the process of renewing its multi-year strategy for official languages.  The current strategy — the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality 2008-2013 — is the $1.1 billion funding framework for a number of federal departments which expires at the end of March.

The QCGN believes there has clearly been a deficit of policy and program funding specifically targeted at the needs of our English-speaking communities here in Quebec. We require policy options that respond to the particularities of our communities from the Magdalen Islands to the Outaouais and from the Townships to Rouyn-Noranda. Over the past few years, the QCGN has been working hard to promote a formula of “equal voice, equitable funding.” We are one of two official language minority communities in Canada and we have the right to equal treatment by federal institutions. We hope that the investment we have made in advocating for a formula of “equal voice, equitable funding” will have been considered in the new federal initiative.

A QCGN delegation that included Youth Employment Services (YES), the English Language Arts Network (ELAN), Townshippers’ Association as well as the director general of QCGN and I also met directly with Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore in December to emphasize our community’s challenges in Quebec’s regions and in sectors like youth unemployment and arts and culture. We told Minister Moore that our community requires financial support to ensure greater vitality for our minority language community.

The QCGN, its members and our community partners have been hard at work over the past 18 months participating in consultations as well as preparing and delivering briefs to Parliamentary and Senate hearings on every facet of the renewed Roadmap. This work culminated in a key study conducted by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages, published last fall.  This report, available here, captures our community’s challenges very well. The government will respond to this report and its recommendations in March and we anticipate that the government’s response, coupled with the next federal budget, will outline the new strategy on official languages and we hope it will include enhanced support for the vitality and development of the English-speaking communities of Quebec.

Richard Bourhis: A Lifetime of Speaking up for Minorities

Photo: Richard Bourhis
By Maurice Crossfield

Though born into Quebec’s French-speaking majority, Dr. Richard Bourhis has spent his life defending minorities.

“I’m an academic, and I am committed to minorities, so for the QCGN I work mostly as a volunteer, and I write books about the English-speaking community and help it to find its best strategic options.”

It’s a far cry from his childhood in the 1960s, when the unilingual French Bourhis cried at his father’s news that he was going to go from Grade 6 at a French school to Grade 7 in an English school. He cried even more when his father then told him he was being sent to a YMCA summer camp, also in English.

But despite those early tears, Bourhis would go on to embrace the English language, and develop a fascination with the ever-delicate interactions between majority and minority language groups. After getting his B.Sc. in psychology at McGill University, Bourhis was off to the University of Bristol in England, where in 1977 he obtained a doctorate studying the decline of the Welsh language in Wales. Later his work would take him to Spain where he researched ways to accommodate and support the Basque peoples in that country.

Ethnolinguistic Vitality
Along with his teaching work at the Université du Québec à Montréal, Bourhis has become a leader in using evidence-based research to determine what he calls the “ethnolinguistic vitality” of Quebec’s English-speaking community. With a repertoire of hundreds of articles, research papers and several books to his credit, he also does consulting work with regional and national governments, including the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, le Conseil supérieur de la langue française, and the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community in Spain.

“My education would not have been possible today unless my father was some rich MP who could send me to a private school in the U.S. or somewhere else in Canada,” Bourhis says. “The wealthy intelligentsia does that. Unilingualism is for the plebes, bilingualism and trilingualism is for the ruling class.”

Bourhis noted Quebec is the only society he has researched where the dominant language limits its own access to education as a form of protection from the minority. This despite the fact that 61 per cent of French-speaking Quebecers say they would like the option of sending their children to school in a different language.

“I never trust the majority,” says Bourhis. “I always have to speak in the name of the minority. I have no allegiance in terms of language group other than asking how the minority is being treated by the majority.”

Within the everyday Francophone community, Bourhis says not much thought is given to the needs of the English-speaking minority. It’s not that Anglos are disliked — it’s just that most Francophones are too busy getting through their own lives to give it much thought. Meanwhile long-held stereotypes, such as “les maudits anglais à Westmount” endure.

On the political front, supporting Quebec’s English-speaking community has been seen as bad strategy, provincially and federally.

“The strategists in Ottawa say that Bill 101 saved Canada, because it reassured Francophones of their place in the country. Even though it curtailed the rights of English speakers, it is seen as a small price to pay for keeping Canada united,” Bourhis says. “In the long run they are the sacrificial lamb for Canadian unity. It isolates Quebec Anglos as a more vulnerable minority.”

Bourhis Seeks Paradigm Shift
Bourhis’ mission is to change the Francophone view of itself as a besieged, endangered minority in North America, to that of a sound majority in Quebec. He says the perception of French as threatened is what drives the nationalist movement.

“A society is better when its minorities are treated well and can continue to contribute to society,” he says. “The shift in thinking is to have Francophones see a thriving community of Anglophones not as a threat, but as an asset. The paradigm shift will probably take another generation, but I am working on it now.”

Meanwhile the English-speaking community has its own work to do. Bourhis says Quebec’s Anglophones have tended to work in silos, with the educational sector doing its own thing, the health sector another, while various communities focus on their own immediate needs. This lack of cohesion needs to be addressed, he says.

Whether in English or French, Bourhis will continue to promote his understanding of Quebec’s language situation. In November 2012 he published The Decline of the English School System in Quebec, and in 2013 he will release the book Decline and Prospects of the English-speaking Communities of Quebec in both of Canada’s official languages.

“I try to give as much evidence as I can that society is better with diversity than without it. I think Quebec society will be better if it recognizes its linguistic minority.”

This is the first in a series of articles about QCGN stakeholders.

The Identity of English-speaking Quebec in 100 Objects

PHOTO CREDIT: Rachel Garber, courtesy Schwartz’s 
Hidden in the rear of Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen, General Manager Frank Silva shows off one of the 100 objects in Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network’s new project: the smoke house that symbolizes one of the many contributions of Quebec’s Jewish communities. Photo by Rachel Garber, courtesy of Schwartz’s.

What would the face of Quebec’s English-speaking communities look like if 100 objects were collaged to create a portrait of it?

That is what the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN) and its partners are poised to find out in a new project. Organizers of Significant Objects for Telling Identity: English-speaking Quebec Through 100 Cultural Artifacts have received 99 submissions from across Quebec so far — large and small, far and wide, old and new.

Now, QAHN is on the hunt for the last object, something that symbolizes life today for English-speaking people in Quebec. QAHN invites suggestions from the public.

The 100th object could be something that has endured from the past or a 21st century development that helps characterize today’s English-speaking communities in Quebec.

“It could be something unique to Anglophones, or it could be something that we share with French-speaking Quebecers,” said Rachel Garber, the project’s co-manager. “Part of our identity is how we are similar to other Quebecers, and maybe a little different from English speakers in the ROC, the rest of Canada.”

Heather Darch, curator of the Missisquoi Museum in Stanstead East, is the project’s other co-manager.

Important features of our life
Garber said the first question people should ask when thinking of artifacts to submit is: “What is an important feature of our life as a community or as individuals? And then: What object could symbolize that feature?”

Artifacts are wanted, rather than photographs. For example, in the project’s collection is a boat helm symbolizing the importance of river travel, rather than a photograph of it.

The photos and essays will be showcased on a new website, QAHN.org/100objects, to be launched March 26. DVDs will also be distributed to libraries across Canada, to help foster greater understanding of the cultural, historical and artistic achievements of English-speaking Quebecers.

Matthew Farfan, QAHN’s executive director, said the project, supported by the federal Department of Canadian Heritage, has received objects from many of Quebec’s corners. “Our goal is to promote dialogue and encourage a cohesive sense of identity among the disparate English-speaking communities of Quebec,” he said.

What would you suggest? Send your idea to 100objects@qahn.org. Please include your name and contact information as well as an explanation in a paragraph or two on why you think it should be the 100th object in the portrait of English-speaking Quebec.

Suggestions can also be mailed to:
100th Object, QAHN, 400-257 Queen St.,
Sherbrooke (Lennoxville) QC J1M 1K7.

The deadline for receipt is Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. For more information, visit QAHN.org or call Heather Darch at 450-248-3153, or Rachel Garber at 819-300-2374.

Research Project Builds Knowledge For and About Seniors

In December, the steering committee for the QCGN-led study on English-speaking seniors in Quebec chose the three research priorities which will guide the project for the next two years. They are: access to, and awareness of, information and communication in the English language; knowledge of social support networks and living conditions in the communities in which English-speaking seniors reside; and what creates an effective voice for English-speaking seniors and knowledge of best practices and models for future development?

The project, entitled Building Research Capacity Related to Quebec’s English-speaking Seniors, is a province-wide, community-based initiative led by the QCGN in partnership with the Quebec English-Speaking Communities Research Network (QUESCREN).  The project is funded by the Soutien aux initiatives visant le respect des aînés (SIRA) project of the provincial Ministère de la Famille et des Aînés.  Initiated in 2012, this project will conclude in March, 2015.

A ground-breaking project in terms of its design and scope, the driving goal of this study is to improve Quebec’s English-speaking seniors’ lives.  Using a participatory action approach to research, the project is intended to improve the evidence-based decision-making and practices of the many groups and people that shape Quebec’s English-speaking seniors’ experiences.  This includes community organizations, caregivers, service providers, researchers, policy makers and — most importantly — seniors themselves.

Identifying Needs and Priorities
This project builds on a series of QCGN-led initiatives since 2009 through support from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program and SIRA which have focused on identifying the needs and priorities of English-speaking seniors and their communities. 

The QCGN believes that in order for English-speaking seniors to mobilize themselves, to have a collective “voice” and — crucially — to have that voice heard by decision makers, there needs to be an accurate portrait of who they are, where they are, and what their day-to-day lives are like.  There is currently no credible or reliable province-wide research base or statistical portrait that focuses specifically on English-speaking seniors across the province of Quebec. This project will fill in these gaps, while at the same time increase seniors’ capacity by actively bringing them together and involving them in the research design, implementation and dissemination of findings.  

The QCGN has been fortunate to have many dedicated community members and researchers involved with this project. 

In the summer of 2012, Celine Cooper joined QCGN as the seniors research project manager to coordinate the project and consultant David Cohen was hired to develop a logic model and ongoing evaluation. Lorraine O’Donnell at QUESCREN has also played a key role in helping to shape and direct this project. Joanne Pocock, one of Canada’s leading experts in the field of linguistic minorities in Quebec with an expertise in English-speaking seniors, came on board as the lead researcher in October.

The steering committee was established in October 2012, and continues to play a vital role in moving the project forward in a participatory manner.  In addition to the core team listed above, the steering committee consists of: Sylvia Martin-Laforge, director general at QCGN and committee co-chair; David Cassidy, president of Seniors Action Quebec and committee co-chair; Cheryl Henry-Leggo, Vision Gaspe-Percé Now; Kevin Erskine-Henry, chair of South Shore Community Partners Network; Premela Pearson, secretary of the Indian Women’s Circle; Jim Colmer, president, James Colmer Consultation Inc; Jan Anderson-Toupin, Jeffery Hale Community Partners; Al Abdon, Filipino Association of Montreal and Suburbs;  and Suzanne Garon, professor at University of Sherbrooke’s Centre for Aging. 

We are currently in the final stages of the planning and organization, and laying the groundwork for the data collection phase which is set to begin in March.

Pocock is in the process of finalizing the project design. In the next couple of months, we will be putting things into action as we move into the communities to begin data collection and research training with English-speaking seniors.  You will be hearing much more from us over the next two years as the project progresses — another good reason to keep an eye out for Network News!

Notre Home Touring Schools Across the Province

In January, the QCGN received funding for its Notre Home Tour from Jean-François Lisée, the minister responsible for relations with the English-speaking community.

Singer-songwriter David Hodges, who penned the Notre Home anthem for a QCGN community development conference last March, will be visiting schools throughout Quebec’s regions to address issues such as identity and a sense of belonging among young English-speaking Quebecers.

Over the past few weeks, the QCGN has reached out to its member organizations which have worked with their schools and school boards to book appearances by Hodges. The response has been very positive. The Notre Home tour will be visiting about 10 regions and more than 30 schools between now and May.

In the meantime, Hodges asked the QCGN to help him share what the Notre Home project means to him and what he aims to accomplish by going on tour. We produced a video that would allow him to tell his story. We invite you to visit the Notre Home YouTube channel to watch his interview, created in both languages.

We also invite you to visit the website at www.notrehome.ca where you will find the Tour calendar as well as links to our social networks. Throughout the tour, we will be posting videos, photos and blog articles online so that fans can follow our work in the schools in real time.

In addition to the tour, the song is being commercialized. English and French versions of the song will be launched simultaneously this Tuesday on iTunes and Zik.ca and will be sold for 99 cents. Profits from the song will be transferred to a foundation that fund projects that support the vitality of Quebec’s English-speaking community.

For any additional information about Notre Home, please contact Roseline Joyal-Guillot at (514) 868-9044, ext. 257.

Non-Profits Need to Prepare for Change

The Quebec Community Groups Network would like to remind all organizations that we are federally incorporated under Part II of the Canada Corporations Act and important changes are coming into effect with the passage of Bill C-4, the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act.

Known as the NFP Act, it establishes a new set of rules for incorporated not-for-profit organizations (NFPO) aimed to allow NFPOs to “take advantage of the protections afforded by incorporation and the predictability and accountability offered by a modern corporate governance framework,” according to Industry Canada. “The bill’s primary purposes are to modernize and improve corporate governance in [NFPOs] eliminate unnecessary regulation, and offer flexibility to meet the needs of the non-profit sector.”

The bill came into effect on Oct. 17, 2011 and replaces CCA Part II.

As part of the act, every federally incorporated NFPO will have to take action to comply with the NFP Act before Oct. 17, 2014. A detailed process has been outlined in which organizations must replace letters patent and by-laws with new charter documents. Organizations that do not make the transition by the deadline will be assumed to be inactive and will be dissolved.

NFPOs can be incorporated at the provincial or the federal level. If you are not sure that your organization was incorporated federally, you can perform a search of the database at Search for a Federal Corporation here.

Organizations are encouraged to consult the Corporations Canada section of the Industry Canada website here for further information relative to the legislation and the complete transition process. You will find information such as:  The Transition Guide that will walk you through the transition process here and questions and answers about the transition process here.

As well, Corporations Canada advises that organizations with questions can contact them in any of several ways to seek further clarification or guidance. Please feel free use this support by telephone at 1-866-333-5556 (toll free) or by email at corporationscanada@ic.gc.ca.

The QCGN encourages organizations to share this information widely within their networks and to start reviewing how they will handle the transition process.  Giving yourself the maximum opportunity to make the necessary changes may also allow your organization to initiate other governance improvements that are in keeping with the NFP Act.