CBC Sherbrooke’s Alison Brunette spent some time chatting with speakers and youth participants at the Bishop’s Forum on Civic Engagement that took place August 13-18, 2017. Youths said they discovered a lot about Quebec’s English-speaking community as they met with counterparts from across the province. They also had that chance to speak with a wide range of leaders including former Premier Jean Charest and Federal MP and indigenous rights champion Romeo Saganash. Listen to her report that aired on Quebec AM.
Watch Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge’s interview at CTV News Montreal at Noon.http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1188587&binId=1.1332485&playlistPageNum=1
During an interview for Quebec AM with Marika Wheeler, James Hughes talks about Bishop’s Forum.
“Devant les membres de la Commission-Jeunesse de son parti, Philippe Couillard a lancé, dimanche, un appel aux anglophones du Québec. « We need you », a-t-il clamé dans son discours de clôture. Son gouvernement n’a pourtant aucune solution pour contrer le déclin du réseau scolaire anglais. Aux anglophones comme aux francophones, son message est le même : l’équilibre linguistique est atteint. En matière de langue, l’inaction s’impose.”
The rejection of a proposition made by the Young Quebec Liberals to allow French-speakers to English schools inspired Robert Dutrisac to observe enrolment decline in English school boards. Although French school boards also face slow demographic growth, Bill 101 limits free access to English schools. However, he states the vitality of the English-speaking community isn’t threatened because universities and CEGEPs are well frequented.
Even the QCGN hasn’t suggested to allow more French-speaking Quebecers in English schools to limit its enrolment decline. The QCGN rather wants Bill 101 to allow Commonwealth residents that immigrated to Quebec in English schools.
“Working together with the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), Bishop’s University (BU) has organized a week-long forum gathering nearly 60 English speaking students and over two dozen guest speakers set to start this Sunday night. During the forum, the youths will be learning about the type of society they live in and how to get involved within it.”
Bishop’s principal, Michael Goldbloom, is very excited about the forum which is completely free for its participants. He hopes that the forum will give participating youth a better appreciation of how Quebec institutions work.
QCGN’s main focus in working on the forum was to foster more English-speaking representations in positions of power in the province, said Sylvia Martin-Laforge.
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.
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