QCGN Hopeful About Opportunities for Official Language Minority Communities in Federal Budget

Montreal – March 23, 2017 – The Quebec Community Groups Network is cautiously optimistic about opportunities for Quebec’s English-speaking Community contained in this week’s federal budget.

“The budget’s emphasis on skills development, innovation, and job growth are a good fit to our community’s strategic development goals of economic prosperity,” commented QCGN President James Shea. “We know that achieving economic prosperity – a key component of our collective vitality – depends on greater access to employment and educational opportunities for youth and adults alike, especially through skills training, and encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship.

“English-speaking Quebecers have reason to be excited about the possibilities contained in today’s federal budget, particularly those aspects promoting skill acquisition, innovation and employment,” Shea added. “We are especially hopeful about the Community Educational Infrastructure Program, investments that could see the construction of vital spaces like early childhood, community, and cultural centres. We hope that the Governments of Quebec and Canada can work together to ensure English-speaking Quebec can equitably access and benefit from this marvelous initiative.”

The QCGN has developed relationships with the key federal institutions who will be delivering on the skills, innovation, employment and community building aspects of the budget.

“The QCGN is well placed to help the Government of Canada work directly with our community, or in partnership with the Government of Quebec to bring the promise the 2017 budget to English-speaking Quebec,” said QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge.  “We also look forward to next year’s budget and its anticipated inclusion of resources to implement the Government of Canada’s new Action Plan on Official Languages and the positive impacts that will have on our community.”

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Community Innovation Fund announces shortlisted projects

Montreal – March 21, 2017

The independent selection committee for the Community Innovation Fund (CIF) met last week and has come up with a shortlist of organizations that will be invited to submit a full application. The selection committee, chaired by Grace Hogg, Grants Coordinator of the George Hogg Family Foundation, has shortlisted 11 projects that improve employability or basic socioeconomic security for vulnerable youth, seniors/caregivers, and/or newcomers. Some tackle more than one of these vulnerable populations that are targeted by the fund which was set up to finance social initiatives for community organizations providing direct support to English-speaking Quebecers.

The projects, from six regions of Quebec, include eight that address the needs of English-speaking youth, including youth with special needs; two that address the needs of seniors; and two that address the needs of newcomers. Financed by the Government of Canada through the Social Partnership Initiative in Official Language Minority Communities, and managed by the QCGN, the Community Innovation Fund (CIF) is a new resource to put social innovation in action. Between April 2017 and March 2019, the fund will invest more than $1 million in social initiatives while building partnerships to increase funds that will be injected into the community.

View the list on the Community Innovation Fund webpage

For more information on the Community Innovation Fund, please contact Maria Rivas-Rivero at 514-868-9044, ext 230 or Maria.Rivas-Rivero@qcgn.ca.

QCGN to Host Conference on Community Engagement and the Integration of Newcomers

Montreal – March 13, 2017 – 

On March 15, 2017, the Quebec Community Groups Network will be hosting a one-day conference entitled Community Engagement and the Successful Integration of Newcomers. The one-day event on the eve of the National Metropolis Conference will bring together dozens of representatives from various sectors and regions to discuss how newcomers – immigrants, refugees and migrants – integrate into Quebec society through the province’s English-speaking communities and institutions.

Sponsored by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the one-day conference kicks with a workshop/panel entitled Faith-based Organizations as Integrating Factors for Newcomers that will discuss how churches, synagogues, and faith-based groups are integrating newcomers into our communities. This panel was organized in cooperation with the English-speaking Catholic Council.

Read the full press release here

View the conference’s website for details and registration

Bilingual Young Quebecers Leading the Way to Canada’s Future

Montreal – March 10, 2017

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation. What does that mean to Quebec’s youth? What are the hot issues for youth with regards to Canadian identity, social issues, the environment, the economy, Canada’s role in the world? How do they see the future of this country and their role in it?

Interesting discussions and lively debates on these themes are anticipated as dozens of youth aged 15 to 25 descend upon the National Capital Region this weekend for the third and final Young Quebecers Leading the Way forum from March 10 to 12.

On Saturday, more than 80 bilingual youths from six regions of the province will interact with a dozen notable workshops leaders including prominent politicians like NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Native MP Romeo Saganash; well-informed journalists including CBC national reporter/producer Nick Gamache; National Observer managing editor Mike de Souza; and Canadian Press Bureau Chief Heather Scoffield; as well as other experts including former diplomat Todd Kuiak and Christopher Neal, a former communications consultant with the Canadian International Development Agency and the World Bank,

Remaining on theme, presenters will also include a number of prominent youth leaders including Elyse Tremblay-Longchamps, vice-president of the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ) who was recently named as a member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council. Co-leading the workshop on Canadian Identity are NDP Youth Critic Anne-Minh Thu Quach and Dafina Savic, a Roma rights activist who is also the Human Rights Coordinator at the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre. Savic was last year’s winner of the Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award and will participate in the launch for the call for nominations for this year’s award at noon on Saturday.

The two-day forum kicks off with a keynote speech delivered by Désirée McGraw, the first female president of BC’s Pearson College. McGraw, who is passionate about the civic engagement of young Canadians, is the former executive director and president of the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation and the Sauvé Scholars Foundation, whose mission is to connect, engage and empower a new generation of public leadership in Canada and around the world to address key global challenges. A co-founder of the Canadian branch of Al Gore’s Climate Project, she was a youth activist in the ’80s when the arms race was at its peak.

The event will wrap up on Parliament Hill Sunday after lunch with a closing ceremony where participants will present youth declaration on their vision of Canada over the next 50 years, that they spent the weekend researching and writing. Both the federal and provincial parliamentary youth secretaries, Peter Schiefke and Karine Vallières, will be on hand to comment on their work.

“We are excited about this year’s lineup of speakers and presenters and look forward to seeing how our participants will be inspired to declare their vision of Canada’s future,” commented project leader Lisanne Gamelin, explaining that over the past two months participating youths attended regional workshops run by six youth coordinators.

Most of them of travelled to Ottawa/Gatineau by train courtesy of Via Rail, who along with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages and CBC Quebec, are the project’s main sponsors. The weekend’s ceremonies are being emceed by CBC Quebec’s roving reporter Marika Wheeler, who travels across the province telling people’s stories to listeners.

Young Quebecers Leading the Way is a three-year project launched by the Quebec Community Groups Network to include young Quebecers in the lead up to Canada’s sesquicentennial. Funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Youth Take Charge program, the QCGN has organized three annual forums in partnership with the Institut du Nouveau Monde (INM) and the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS).

The first forum, which looked at Canada’s past, was held in Quebec City in 2015. The second, which focused on present-day Canada, was held last year at Concordia University. This year, youths have travelled to the nation’s capital region to wrap it up. More detail about Young Quebecers Leading the Way on the QCGN website at http://youthleadingway150.org/

Download a copy of the press release

Quebec must drop plans to abandon the riding of Westmount-Saint-Louis

Montreal – February 10, 2016 –

The QCGN is disappointed that the Commission de la représentation électorale du Québec (CRE) apparently failed to follow the criteria related to the delimitation of electoral divisions by eliminating the Westmount-Saint Louis electoral division.

“The proposed electoral divisions of Ville Marie and Westmount-Notre-Dame-De-Grace will not provide effective representation for the natural community of Westmount, whose unquestionable cultural and historical heritage goes back generations,” commented Geoffrey Chambers, Vice-president of the QCGN.

The democratic rights of Quebecers are clear: Effective representation in the National Assembly is achieved by electoral districts that balance voter parity with minority representation and cultural identity. For a community that is already underrepresented in the National Assembly, the loss of the provincial riding of Westmount-Saint Louis means the loss of an English-speaking constituency and the MNA charged with representing its interest.

“Setting electoral boundaries is not a cold calculation of numbers. The courts have made clear that electoral boundaries must reflect effective representation, that involves a balance of voter parity, as the primary factor, with countervailing criteria that may include minority representation and cultural identity,” said Chambers, adding that the Commission de la représentation électorale du Québec must balance of these criteria to assess effective representation. “The Commission clearly failed to ensure this balance in its latest proposals to eliminate Westmount-Saint Louis.”

The QCGN believes the Commission’s recommendation related to Westmount-Saint Louis must be abandoned to ensure Westmount citizens are afforded effective representation in the National Assembly, which must in turn represent the diversity of Quebec’s social mosaic.

Download the full press release here

View the proposed electoral division

QCGN Welcomes Resurrection of Independent Court Challenges Program

Montreal – February 7, 2017 –

The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) is pleased with the reinstatement of the Court Challenges Program of Canada and delighted that the Government of Canada is establishing an independent program in which funding for linguistic rights cases will be protected.

“The defense and advancement of Constitutional equality and linguistic rights benefits all Canadians, and this program will provide the financial assistance necessary for ordinary people to fight for these rights,” said QCGN President James Shea, who was on hand today in Ottawa for the joint announcement by Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Read our full press release here

QCGN Demands Apology From Prime Minister Trudeau

Montreal – January 18, 2016 – 

The Quebec Community Groups Network is shocked and appalled that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau steadfastly refused to speak English during a stop in Quebec’s Eastern Townships yesterday and is demanding an immediate apology and a meeting.

During a town hall meeting in Sherbrooke, Que., Trudeau did not utter a single word of English, even when questions were addressed to him in the language of Shakespeare. Responding to one woman who asked what the federal government intended to do to address the lack of mental health services for English-speaking Townshippers, he replied in French: “Thank you for your use of both official language, but we’re in a French province so I will answer in French.”

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English-speaking Quebec Must Have a Stronger Voice in Conversation About Official Languages

Montreal – December 15, 2016 – The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) is generally pleased with the House Standing Committee on Official Languages’ report Toward a New Action Plan for Official Languages and Building Momentum for Immigration in Francophone Minority Communities however it is concerned that our community was somewhat sidelined by the study and one of its major recommendations.

“We are particularly pleased to see the Committee’s recommendations related to transparency, accountability, and involvement of official language minority communities in the Government of Canada’s official languages’ strategy,” said QCGN President James Shea. “The federal government must partner with linguistic minority communities in a real way. After all, this strategy is for the support of community vitality, and must therefore be developed and implemented by the community sector providing direct services to individuals. We want a seat at the table.”

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Bishop’s University Will Hold Civic Leadership Institute for Quebec’s English-speaking Youth

Sherbrooke, December 12, 2016 – 

In August 2017 Bishop’ University will welcome young English-speaking Quebecers to its Lennoxville campus for a week-long Civic Leadership Institute. This initiative is being supported by the Quebec Government as part of its Stratégie d’action jeunesse 2016-2021.

The Institute, which is part of the action plan announced on Monday by Premier Philippe Couillard and Karine Vallières, Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier (Youth) and MNA for Richmond, is being led by Bishop’s Dean of Education, Marie-Josée Berger with the support of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).

Read the full press release from Bishop’s University

QCGN Advocates for More Flexible Regulations for Provision of Federal Minority Language Services

Montreal – November 17, 2016 –

The Quebec Community Groups Network is pleased with today’s announcement by Treasury Board President Scott Brison and Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly that the government will undertake a review of the regulations pertaining to the Official Languages Act which deal with communicating to the public.

“It is particularly appropriate that representatives from Canada’s official language minority communities have been invited to today’s announcement, demonstrating the intimate links that exist between all parts of the Official Languages Act, which aims to ensure respect for English and French as the official languages of Canada, and support the development of our nation’s English and French linguistic minority communities,” commented QCGN President James Shea, who was on hand for the announcement.

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Community Innovation Fund Seeking Proposals to Better Serve Vulnerable Youth, Seniors/Caregivers or Newcomers in Quebec’s English-language communities

Montreal, November 11, 2016

The Quebec Community Groups Network today invited non-profit organizations that serve English-speaking Quebecers to announce their intention to apply for the Community Innovation Fund (CIF) which will finance social initiatives to improve employability or secure basic socioeconomic security for vulnerable youth, seniors/caregivers or newcomers in Quebec’s English-language communities.

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QCGN Discusses Concerns of English-speaking Community with Premier Couillard

Quebec City, November 8, 2016 – 

At a first-ever meeting with Premier Philippe Couillard at the National Assembly Tuesday afternoon representatives from the Quebec Community Groups Network had a frank and positive discussion about Quebec’s support to its English-speaking minority community.

Top of mind were reforms to education and health and social service networks that had major impacts on our institutions; the scarcity of English-speaking Quebecers in the provincial civil service; as well as the importance of retaining youth so they can bolster our communities, support our elders and make positive contributions to the future of Quebec.

Crédit photo: Claude Hurens

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Educational Institutions Must Tie Their Activities to the Vitality of the Communities They Serve

Montreal, September 21, 2016 

The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) recognizes that schools are a cornerstone of the vitality of English-speaking communities and believes that Education Act should enhance the responsibility of our educational institutions to serve their communities.

In a brief submitted to the Committee on Culture and Education this week, the QCGN argues that school boards, schools, as well as adult and vocational centres must support the development and vitality of their respective communities. QCGN, which represents 48 groups across Quebec, insists that this responsibility should be clearly defined within the Education Act rather than being discretionary on the part of educational institutions.

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Read our Brief on Bill 105

Awards Recognize Exceptional Community Leaders

Montreal –  September 9, 2016

The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) is pleased to announce that Montreal jazz legend Oliver Jones, former social worker and community volunteer Miriam Green and Townshippers’ Association president Gerald Cutting will be honoured with the eighth annual Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award in October. Community advocate Dafina Savic will receive the second annual Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award.

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Read the Montreal Gazette article

QCGN issues a statement following the passing of Mauril Bélanger

Montreal – August 17, 2016

The Quebec Community Groups Network today expressed its deep sadness at the passing of MP Mauril Bélanger. a true champion for language rights in Canada.

Bélanger was a beloved politician, winning by landslides in eight successive elections in Ottawa-Vanier. Appointed to Cabinet in 2003, not only did he follow the illustrious footsteps of former Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier in the same riding, but he carried on one of the Senator’s ambitious private member’s bill to amend the Official Languages Act. Under Mauril’s keen leadership, Canadian parliamentarians voted to enhance the Act for the first time since 1988 by amending Part VII in November 2005. As a result of this transformative change, Federal institutions are now obligated to take “positive measures” to translate the government’s commitment to promoting linguistic duality and community development into action. As the Commissioner of Official Languages Graham Fraser noted in this 2006-07 Annual Report at the time “this legislative change ushers in a new era for Official Languages in Canada.”

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