Sylvia Martin-Laforge of the QCGN speaks about the Stats Can admission that its Quebec language numbers were wrong.
Statistics Canada has recognized it made a mistake in its recent calculations on the number of English-speaking Quebecers and will correct the data.
But the fallout from the incident continues with representatives of the English-speaking community saying such “alternative facts” have likely already done lasting damage to their efforts to shore up a fragile minority — especially in the regions.
Quebec Community Groups Network director general Sylvia Martin-Laforge said the erroneous data coupled with other data showing French in decline probably has “fed paranoia” in some circles that English is a bigger threat in Quebec than previously believed.
“Statistics Canada is blaming a computer error for results that indicated a surprising increase in the number of English-speaking people in Quebec. The agency said roughly 61,000 people were misclassified when the results of the 2016 census were compiled.”
English-language groups alerted Statistics Canada to possible discrepancies earlier this week. Most errors were found on a local level in some parts of the province where few English-speakers were reported previously.
The QCGN partnered with Jack Jedwab to compare number of English-speakers to English school enrolment rates and Quebec immigration rates. Jedwab was pleased with the speed at which StatsCan acknowledged the errors.
The group that represents Quebec English-speaking community groups says it’s shocked by and skeptical of new Statistics Canada numbers that show a surge in the number of people who speak English as a mother tongue.
“It was a surprise,” said Sylvia Martin-Laforge. She said the QCGN was anticipating very little growth in the number of anglophones and was shocked when the new Statistics Canada numbers showed some communities have hundreds or even thousands more English-speakers than they did in 2011. “This bowls us over, because that’s not what we were expecting,” she said.
The QCGN partnered with historian and demographic specialist Jack Jedwab to take a closer look at the figures. “The increases, I would say, are impossible,” said Jedwab. “I don’t know where the people are coming from.”
“As the month of August signals the end of vacation for many university students across Quebec, students may be looking to squeeze in a last-minute vacation before hitting the books this fall.”
Some students were selected to partake in the Bishop’s Forum Youth civic institute which is designed to educate self-identified English-speaking Quebecers about civic engagement in Quebec society. Panels will be offered in both French and English, and director James Hughes hopes young people will feel closer and more connected to their province.
The program is funded by the Quebec government’s Stratégie d’action jeunesse, and supported by the Quebec Community Groups Network.
An unexplained increase in the number of English-speaking Quebecers in the regions has raised doubts about the reliability of the 2016 census numbers released last week.
The population with English as their mother tongue, or as language spoken at home, exploded in cities across Quebec according to the 2016 census data analyzed by Montreal researcher Jack Jedwab.
More than half of the increase of 5,325 people in the English-speaking population was reported outside of Montreal, in cities with strong Francophone majorities, such as Rimouski (+164%), Saguenay (+115%), Drummondville (+110%), Trois-Rivières (+69%) or Shawinigan (+77%).
Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, made this surprising discovery while searching through Statistics Canada’s data, which was published online last week. This increase in the English-speaking population in rural areas seems so unlikely that he is calling for an investigation into the reliability of the data.
Read the full article in Le Devoir (in French)
More results from the 2016 census were released last week, and some are finding the Quebec language results hard to believe.
One of them is Jack Jedwab, executive vice-president for the Association for Canadian Studies. Jedwab wasn’t surprised to see a 10 per cent increase in the number of mother tongue anglophones in Quebec over the past five years. The shock came, however, when he dug deeper into where those people were said to be living, and found booms of anglophones outside of metropolitan Montreal.
“A lot of increase in the 100 per cent to 200 per cent, in places that anglophones have never even heard of,” said Jedwab.
The saga surrounding Quebec’s history course for Secondary 4 and 5 students is drawing to a close. Education minister Sébastien Proulx has just approved the final version which will be mandatory in the fall.
According to Raymond Bédard, president of La Société des professeurs d’histoire du Québec, the reform was well received by the majority of teachers who demanded that the content be presented chronologically rather than thematically, as was the case in the former curriculum.
The Quebec Community Groups Network welcomes the changes. “We see that efforts were made, and we are pleased. We can’t ignore the contribution of those who created Quebec,” said QCGN’s Director of Communications, Rita Legault. She noted, however, that the changes to the teacher’s curriculum guide will not be included in textbooks, which were printed several months ago.
Read the full article on TVA Nouvelles’ website (in French)
Some critics say the consultations encourage an ideology of victimhood and demonize the province as inherently racist.
MONTREAL — Quebec is being widely criticized for its plan to launch public consultations on systemic racism, even by those who agree visible minorities face many structural barriers in the province.
Forgotten in the upcoming discussion is Quebec’s anglophone population, said Sylvia Martin-Laforge, director of the Quebec Community Groups Network. She notes how the consultations specifically do not touch on discrimination based on language.
Moreover, she deplored how the government’s documents outlining the consultations have so far been released in French only.
The provincial government has approved a controversial new high school history course following what is being described as minor changes to the curriculum.
The new course was launched by the Parti Quebecois government of 2014 and was supposed to be a more inclusive look at how people of all ethnicities built Quebec. Instead the course rarely mentions non-francophones.
The Quebec Community Groups Network said teachers should still go beyond the basic textbook.
“We still have to be vigilant about this curriculum. This curriculum will be taught well in our English schools because we will have the resources,” said Sylvia Martin-Laforge. “What we would hope to see is that our community, both our community and the Indigenous community, will be well represented in the francophone system as well.”
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