Network News November 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QCGN TAKES ENGLISH-SPEAKING MINORITY COMMUNITY’S CONCERNS TO PARLIAMENT HILL

By Geoffrey Chambers

QCGN President

The Quebec Community Groups Network connected with Members of Parliament and Senators last week as we hosted our annual event on Parliament Hill. This was a unique opportunity for our Parliamentarians to better understand Quebec’s English-speaking community – one of two official language minority communities in Canada. Members of the QCGN Board and Network, as well as stakeholders, took part in the cocktail where community members were able to discuss their needs and concerns with our federal representatives. With multi-partisan representation from the House and Senate, including most of the members of the House of Commons Official Languages Committee, we discussed modernization of the Official Languages Act; the government’s review of the Official Languages Act; as well as the implementation of Canada’s Action Plan for Official Languages. QCGN is advocating for a modernized act that will better serve the interests of English-speaking Quebec and advance official languages in the years to come. We want the act to emphasize the principle of equality of status of English and French and ensure that it adapts to the specific contexts and needs of both official language minority communities. We told our federal representatives that we are pleased with proposed amendments to Official Languages Regulations that were announced by Treasury Board President Scott Brison and Official Languages Minister Mélanie Joly on Oct. 25. These changes would increase the availability of federal government services in English to our community and guarantee the voice of local communities in determining the language obligations of specific points of service. We also encouraged our representatives to support the effective implementation of the federal government’s Action Plan for Official Languages – 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future. Released last March, the plan increased funding available for organizations serving English-speaking Quebec and established a $5-million development fund to help our community organizations find sustainable ways to deliver services to English speakers in various regions and sectors. QCGN and its Priority Setting Steering Committee, were mandated by the Minister of Official Languages to work with the Department of Canadian Heritage to make sure that the Plan is implemented in partnership with the community sector serving English-speaking Quebecers in a way that will meet the needs of our Community of Communities. (Read details further in this newsletter.) Also among our guests were Official Language partners including Commissioner of Official Languages Raymond Théberge, and the top brass of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA) including President Jean Johnson, Board member Justin Johnston and Director General Alain Dupuis. Their presence gave us an opportunity to discuss and condemn the recent decision by Ontario’s Conservative government to abolish the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner and cancel plans to create a new French-language university in Toronto. (More about this later in my column.) The QCGN extends its warm appreciation to Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather and Senator Judith Seidman for inviting their colleagues and helping us host the event on the hill.

 

 

Making Connections in Quebec

The political landscape here in Quebec has changed since our last newsletter in September. For the first time since 1970, a party other than the Liberals and the Parti Québécois is governing Quebec and the QCGN is making connections with our new government to effectively represent English-speaking Quebecers.  Following the election, the QCGN congratulated Premier Legault and said we are ready and willing to work with him and his new government on key issues such as health and education. (Read our press release.) During the campaign, the QCGN and its members met and spoke with many candidates from our new government. That included Sainte-Rose MNA Christopher Skeete, who was subsequently appointed as Premier Legault’s point person with the English-speaking community. We recently met with Skeete, who is the Premier’s Parliamentary Assistant in charge of the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers and offered our assistance so that the new CAQ government can better understand and represent the interests of English-speaking Quebecers across the province. Among the topics we discussed were guarantees that ensure access to health and social services. With the CAQ’s stated goal of eliminating school boards, I also joined Townshippers’ Association Executive Director Rachel Hunting for a meeting with Brome Missisquoi MNA Isabelle Charest, who is the parliamentary assistant to Education Minister Jean-Pierre Roberge. Charest and her team were keen on getting the word out that her new riding team is fully bilingual and encouraged Brome-Missisquoi residents to touch base with them on the issues that are important to them. We also spoke informally about her new responsibilities in education.

 

Working Together with Francophone Minorities

As we continue to work with provincial and federal politicians and stakeholders, the QCGN has been working increasingly with our Francophone partners outside Quebec. The election of populist Conservative leaders in our two neighbouring provinces to the east and to the west have had impacts on our sister communities. How deep those impacts are were made abundantly clear when Ontario’s Conservative government announced plans to trim its deficit by abolishing the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner and cancelling plans to create a French-language university. The QCGN reacted immediately on social media and followed up quickly with a press release that denounced these short-sighted cuts that will do little to pare down the deficit. The next day, The Montreal Gazette followed suit with an editorial reinforcing the message Ontario’s government had delivered a setback to that province’s francophones and to the cause of minority-language rights across the country. Much ink has and continues to flow on this issue which, after years of relative peace on the languages front, has caused linguistic strife across Canada and a backlash against Quebec’s English-speaking minority which some suggest is treated too well. Canada’s Commissioner of Official Languages Raymond Théberge summed it up well in an op-ed published in papers across Canada. Back in 1899, Former Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier stated: “Let us keep English in Quebec, where it is in the minority, and let us keep French in the Dominion, where it is in the minority, and now let us all, English and French, but Canadians ever, let us stand by the rights of minorities everywhere.” Laurier was quoted last week by Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Sœurs MP Marc Miller who along with hundreds of others reacted to the kerfuffle on social media where the issue is playing out more fiercely than in the media. In Ottawa on Friday while francophone partners presented to the House of Commons committee study on the modernization of the Official Language Act, I lent our support to L’Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) which officially launched a resistance campaign to the cuts and announced plans for a wave of demonstrations throughout the province on Dec. 1. Meanwhile in New Brunswick where the assembly is split down the middle, the Progressive Conservative government of Blaine Higgs may need the support of three MLAs elected from the People’s Alliance Party that is antagonistic towards Francophones and official bilingualism. Read this interesting analysis by Ricky Richard, who noted that while English-speaking Quebecers proudly celebrated their first English leaders’ debate, Francophones in New Brunswick felt as though they were used as electoral fodder. Richard goes on to discuss what lessons about minority-language dynamics can Quebec take away from the Acadian experience. Our support of our counterparts in Ontario and New Brunswick did not go unnoticed – especially on Twitter where the thanks from Francophone partners were effusive. (Follow me on Twitter @Gchambers_qcgn. You can also follow @QCGN and our Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge @sylviamlaforge.)

 

QCGN Meets with FCFA

In the middle of the tumult over language, the QCGN was invited to present at a meeting of Fédération des Communautés Francophones et Acadienne du Canada members in mid-October. Our Director General, Sylvia Martin-Laforge, and our Director of Community Development and Engagement, Lynda Giffen, made a presentation on the QCGN’s mandate, history, membership, and priorities to minority language group representatives from other provinces as well as national organizations supporting youth, seniors, jurists, women and parents. Participants acknowledged that the English-speaking minority in Quebec and French-speaking minorities in Canada and were effectively in the ‘same boat.’ Participants discussed opportunities to work together given our similar mandates supporting minority language communities, notably within the framework of the upcoming 50th anniversary and modernization of the Official Languages Act.

  

 

Schools are a Cornerstone of Minority Community Vitality

Speaking of Ontario’s French Language Services Act and the Commissioner for French-Language Services, François Boileau was a recent keynote speaker at the Minority Community Vitality through Education that took place at Concordia University in late October. Commissioner Boileau discussed the lessons that Quebec could learn from Ontario in its support of Francophone communities. The irony! Earlier that day, two of our Francophone partners from outside Quebec – Ali Chaisson, executive director of the Société de l’Acadie du New Brunswick, and Guy Matte, executive director of the Canadian Foundation for Cross-Cultural Dialogue and past executive director of l’Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) – argued that education in the language of the minority is a fundamental element in the transmission of language and identity and essential to fostering community vitality. They noted that the experience of Francophones outside Quebec is that the control and management of our educational facilities is essential for minorities to survive and to thrive. That was also the theme of the forum’s opening address by Canada’s Commissioner of Official Languages, Raymond Théberge. (Read further for a story about the forum and an excerpt from Théberge’s talk.)

 

Later in the forum, I was pleased to participate on one of the panels with Russell Copeman, the new executive director of the Quebec English School Board Association (QESBA) on Oct. 28. Our topic was how to ensure the vitality of our minority language community through education. During the discussion, I said that English-speaking Quebecers are not focused on preserving their language, rather, we are concerned with the role schools play in protecting and preserving our unique culture. Russell noted that education is a key component to maintaining our communities, particularly those that are small and precarious. He said the ingredients needed for our communities to be vital are: a quality education for our young people; and that we prepare our youth to be able to live and work in Quebec through adequate French second language instruction. Russell said the missing ingredients are: more students; more teachers and professionals; curricula better adapted to our reality, and funding that meets the particular needs of our boards. Both Russell and I noted that there is a broad consensus in our community that the continued existence of locally, democratically elected school boards are a necessary and vital element of our community’s vitality.

 

QFHSA Fall Conference

I was also on hand with QGCN’s new Director of Community Development, Lynda Giffen, for the annual conference of the Quebec Federation of Home and Schools Association (QFHSA) at St Thomas High School in Pointe Claire, Que., on Nov. 3. The conference featured an inspiring keynote by Marie Wahba on the re-invention of school libraries by the director of educational services for the Lester B. Pearson School Board. Wahba spoke to the evolving and changing role of schools as places of innovation and the introduction of new technology in the learning environment. Her presentation discussed innovative ways to reinvent library spaces into ‘learning commons’ that incorporate learning spaces and technology in creative ways.

 

 

 

 

QCGN Family Growing

Over the last few months the QCGN has welcomed two new members including the aforementioned Saint Columba House and Catholic Action Montreal. Founded in 2015, Catholic Action Montreal is a service organization whose mission is to match the community’s specific needs with volunteers’ expertise in the English-speaking Catholic community and the community at large. They bring together English faith-based organizations with a common cause and a shared commitment to better serve people in the greater Montreal area. “Serve our Neighbour” is the motto and a vital component of outreach services, requests for assistance, and projects undertaken that have impacted Montreal’s English-speaking Catholic community.  Saint Columba House, a not-for-profit organization that has been serving the English-speaking community of Pointe Saint Charles and beyond for 100 years providing a variety of programs and services to meet the needs of children, youth, families and seniors. Celebrating 100 years of service primarily to the English-speaking community of Pointe Saint-Charles, Saint Columba House is engaged in seeking justice through empowerment, education and social action to address social and economic injustice through actions, reflection and analysis, community organizing and advocacy.

 

QCGN Holiday Open House

 

Our QCGN family will be getting together as the QCGN staff hosts its fifth annual Holiday Open House and Breakfast. This QCGN tradition is coupled with a small fundraising activity for one of our members or partner organizations. This year, staff has chosen to raise funds for the Community Lunch Program at Saint Columba House, QCGN’s newest member. Starting at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 10, our QCGN elves will be brewing coffee, serving homemade goodies to our members, partners and stakeholders who are invited to share some holiday cheer and make a contribution of cash or non-perishable to support the Community Lunch Program. The program offers Point St. Charles residents and guests hot, nutritious and balanced lunches prepared fresh daily by the lunch program staff and volunteers. Up to 125 lunches are served each day to community residents and program participants. For many low-income people, this is often the only nutritious meal they will eat for the entire day. If you cannot attend but want to show your support for St. Columba House you can drop off a donation or send a cheque to 2365 Grand Trunk, Montreal, Que., H3K 1M8. You can also donate online by clicking here. If you are planning to drop in, please click here and let us know.

 

COMMUNITY READY FOR RECOMMENDATIONS TO CANADIAN HERITAGE 

The federal government’s Action Plan for Official Languages – 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future increased funding available for organizations serving English-speaking Quebec and established a $5-million development fund to help our community organizations find sustainable ways to deliver services to organizations dedicated to enhancing the vitality of Quebec’s English-speaking minority communities.

 

The new $5 million fund is in addition to a boost in baseline funding for official language minority organizations across Canada which increases the Cooperation with the Community Sector – Development of Official Languages fund. As English-speaking Quebec’s official interlocutor with the federal Department of Canadian Heritage, the QCGN was asked to identify core principles and priorities of action and a framework for the distribution of the additional funding being made through these envelopes.

 

The Priority Setting Steering Committee (PSSC), a standing committee of the QCGN board composed of community leaders with expertise across various fields that is representative of Quebec’s English-speaking minority community, was handed this important task and has been working diligently over the summer and fall of 2018.

 

With support from the QCGN, the PSSC undertook a two-phase consultation process that included two community-wide surveys, five focus groups, a two-day sense making session with community experts, countless individual conversations, as well as several meetings of the PSSC and affiliated subgroups.

 

Phase one generated a report that summarized key principles and priorities for action, and phase two generated recommendations for a funding distribution framework. A comprehensive second report, which is currently being drafted, will present the Department of Canadian Heritage with final recommendations on both principles and priorities for action as well as a distribution framework for these funds.

 

PSSC chair Gerald Cutting said members of the priority setting committee felt strongly that they needed to produce a report the entire community could see themselves reflected in. He said the result of all the PSSC’s consultations spoke to the need in communities for this new funding.

 

“We need to address sustainability,” said Cutting, noting that a lack of stable funding makes it difficult for organizations to survive and thrive. “Organizations should not be existing from hand to mouth, going from contract to contract. They provide necessary services and they need stable funding.”

 

Last week members of the PSSC met with senior officials of Canadian Heritage to discuss its preliminary findings.

 

“Canadian Heritage commended the committee for its work and recognized the effectiveness of the process whilst looking forward to final recommendations,” said QCGN’s Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge. She said the phase two report is expected to be tabled at a special QCGN board meeting in the next couple of weeks before a final report is submitted to the Minister of Official Languages Mélanie Joly.

 

“While the PSSC is concluding its final report to the Minister, we recognize our work has just begun,” said Cutting. “Our community of communities is varied, large, and as unique as the challenges it faces.”

 

Quebec’s English-speaking minority communities experience large gaps in service provision, said Cutting.

 

“Our communities are lacking the breadth of support offered to French-speaking minorities outside of Quebec,” he explained. He added that our communities also frequently do not hold control of our institutions and do not have adequate policy support in many areas.

 

“The PSSC sees this as an opportunity for Quebec’s English-speaking minority communities to put themselves in the driver’s seat as our community grows, evolves and changes over the next five years and beyond,” Cutting summarized. “With these recommendations, we are not going cap in hand, we’re going with our own agenda. This way we have a robust representation of our agenda that can go anywhere where we set the terms.”

 

GOVERNMENT REVIEWS TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND BROADCASTING ACTS 

On Thursday, October 25, QCGN Board Member Christopher Neal, and the Quebec English-language Production Council (QEPC), represented by Kenneth Hirsch, Arnie Gelbart and Kirwan Cox, presented to the Yale Panel which is studying changes to Canada’s broadcasting and telecommunications laws and regulations.

 

One of our main goals is increasing resources available for the creation of English content. The Canada Media Fund (CMF) dedicates a percentage to the production of French official language minority production but has no reciprocal arrangement for English-speaking Quebec.

 

This review was initiated in June in response to new challenges and opportunities facing Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications, including content creation in the digital age, net neutrality, cultural diversity and the future of Canadian media and Canadian content.

(See Canadian Heritage’s press release. Also see terms of reference for the review.)

 

The review is being led by a panel of external experts, chaired by Janet Yale, which is collecting the views of stakeholders.

 

The panel is looking at four themes: reducing barriers to access by all Canadians to advanced telecommunications networks; supporting creation, production and discoverability of Canadian content; improving the rights of digital consumers; and, renewing the institutional framework for the communications sector.

 

Our community’s delegation, which appeared before the panel on Oct. 25, outlined concerns, expectations and recommendations for the upcoming legislative review.

 

The next step in this process is for QEPC and ELAN to liaise with Francophone stakeholder groups like the Fédération culturelle canadienne-française (FCCF), to coordinate official language minority community positions before submitting an official position.

 

It’s not too late to have a say. The deadline for written submissions to the Yale Panel has been extended to Jan. 11.

 

 

INNOVATIVE PROJECTS ADDRESS NEEDS OF VULNERALBE ENGLISH-SPEAKING YOUTH

By Irwin Block

Assisting young people by enhancing their education with practical training and getting at-risk youth local work experience can strengthen their well-being and strengthen Quebec’s English-speaking communities. These goals are at the heart of two projects by the Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders  and Voice of English-speaking Quebec that are providing educational and work opportunities for youth in the Magdalen Islands and Quebec City.

 

Selected for their innovation and sustainability, these are among the 10 programs sharing in a $1 million Community Innovation Fund, provided by the federal government’s Social Partnership Development Program. The fund is managed by the Quebec Community Groups Network.

 

HANDS-ON LEARNING PROGRAM IN MAGDALEN ISLANDS MOTIVATES VULNERABLE YOUTH TO COMPLETE HIGH SCHOOL

The Magdalen Islands, a five-hour ferry ride from Prince Edward Island, is home to one of the most isolated English-speaking communities in Quebec. It has 675 residents who, in the 2016 Census, gave English as their mother tongue, or 5.7 per cent of the total population.

 

“We’ve been here since the 1800s and most of the population are fishermen or employed by the fishing industry,” says Helena Burke, executive director of the Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders (CAMI), created in 1987 to defend the rights of English speakers. It has since expanded its role to improving the quality of life and vitality of the community, Burke said.

 

The need to expand employment possibilities for young people is a way to maintaining population levels. The prospects are revealed in the declining school population, reflecting much smaller families and departures to the mainland.

 

Burke recalled that when she graduated from high school in 1997 there were 100 students from pre-kindergarten to Secondary V compared to the current total of 45 students.

 

The decline in numbers underlines the importance of programs to encourage youth to find reasons to stay, she noted. More than 90 per cent of English speakers live in Old Harry, Entry Island, or Grosse Île, where Burke grew up and still lives. She has been CAMI’s executive director for 12 years.

 

With its $105,000 grant over two years from the program, supplemented by some local funding, CAMI’s youth program began in June 2017 with two main objectives – to expose young people to careers other than the fishery and use local human resources to provide skills training and possibly future employment. As Burke noted, they already know how to fish.

 

One of the mentoring programs teaches how to build fiberglass boats, which can be useless and profitable during the long winter. Three local firms are always looking for skilled labour. “They’ve got a waiting list a mile long for new boats,” Burke said.

 

Under the program, students also are taught carpentry and small-motor repair. “These are useful hands-on skills,” Burke said. “You might fish for two or three months of the year, but the rest of the time you could be using trade skills,” she added.

Some 15 students have taken part, most in the three last years of high school. Local businesses that are always looking for skilled workers were recruited, and the project made it even more attractive for them to participate

 

“Initially, we paid the businesses to host the students, provide proper training and mentorships, and as part of the deal we asked them to pay the students the minimum wage. This was an added incentive for the students, who have few opportunities for extra work on the islands,” Burke said.

 

A total of four students had remunerated work, with the focus on boat building.

This year the program is incorporated into the regular high-school curriculum, the course where students learn about career options. Since it’s part of the school program, students were not paid. The focus was on carpentry.

 

“They started building benches and will sell them to the community and the money collected will be re-injected into the program to buy materials,” Burke said.

 

Students also built a greenhouse and garden boxes and were taught how to use them to grow vegetables.

 

The project will be looking for additional funding when the fiscal year wraps up March 31.

 

 

QUEBEC CITY PROJECT HELPS FOSTER EMPLOYABILITY SKILLS FOR SPECIAL-NEEDS YOUTH

In Quebec City, the Voice of English-Speaking Quebec (VEQ), founded in 1982 to advocate for and strengthen the community, was awarded a total of $123,640 over two years for its innovation project.

 

Initially the project was designed to foster employability skills for special-needs youth, in partnership with local businesses. It was judged to be the kind of innovative program that was necessary and not available for this community of 15,270 English speakers.

 

VEQ’s Executive Director Brigitte Wellens explained the clientele soon expanded beyond young people on the autism spectrum or with disabilities to include at-risk youth coping with addictions, socio-economic, family, or mental health issues.

In its first year, the project offered 10 work opportunities for four special-needs youth and placements for nine this year so far, project coordinator Dominique Paddack said.

The age range is 16 to 26, and the first work opportunities were in community events such as festivals and the Christmas hamper campaign.

“One high school student got to work 20 hours a week with a residential cleaning company, which gave him eight months of experience last year. Now he’s on to something else – a good example of our making a link with a firm that needed workers and through a social worker at one of the local high schools, to find a part-time opportunity for a student.” The program subsidized the student’s work.

 

As well, four special-needs youth have been employed since June at an annual book fair, sponsored by the Eastern Quebec Learning Centre, an adult vocational education centre in the city’s Ste. Foy borough.

 

The money raised at the book fair was given to the Special Needs Activities and Community Services Entrepreneurs (SNACS) for its activities.

 

The work included sorting and labelling some 25,000 books that were offered for sale. “This type of project gives these students work experience, the chance to earn money, builds their self-esteem, and helps with their socialization,” Paddack said.

 

Some participants may have difficulty speaking French and so these opportunities enable them to work in English.

 

Wellens noted that once special-needs youth are out of the school system, and after the age of 21, there are no more services for them.

 

“For special-needs youth who would either fall under the radar or not be considered employable, there is no other organization within the English-speaking community that can address their needs and find work opportunities for them,” she said.

 

“This work contributes to the community’s vitality, creates awareness, allows employers to make an important social gesture by showing sensitivity to the needs of these individuals. It also provides concrete measures that address some of the needs of these youth that otherwise would not have these experiences,” Wellens concluded.

 

The project fosters employability skills training for special-needs youth.  It encourages on-the-job training in their language of choice and enhances their capacity to fully contribute to their communities. The project is developing new partnerships with local businesses, helping to improve the socioeconomic security of this vulnerable population group.

 

This is the fourth in a series of articles about projects that were funded under the Community Innovation Fund. For further information about the CIF please contact Christine Boyle at 514-868-9044, ext. 257.

 

RAPIDLY EXPANDING PHELPS HELPS OBTAINS CHARITABLE STATUS

Submitted by Phelps Aide Phelps Helps

 

October marked a milestone for QCGN member and Community Innovation Fund recipient, Phelps Aide Phelps Helps. On Oct. 26, Phelps hosted its first formal annual general meeting at its office in Stanstead (272 Dufferin St.) with more than half of the 42 new active members in attendance.

 

Co-founders Catherine Van der Linden and Jeanie Markwick were thrilled to announce that the Canada Revenue Agency had awarded the organization charitable status. After months of hard work, this designation culminates a pivotal realization to achieving the organization’s long-term goals.

 

The AGM was also a time for Phelps to provide an overview of the past year’s work and achievements. The 2017-18 year was one of growth in all aspects: the team grew from four members to seven; volunteer numbers increased to 54; partnerships more than doubled reaching 70 contributors and collaborators; program participation increased from 100 individuals to 160; and even their location underwent significant renovation to accommodate the growing numbers.

 

Executive Director Katie Lowry presented these highlights and more to the members and emphasized that at the heart of Phelps is the quality and enthusiasm of the team and their willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve their participants’ success through now nine designated programs.

 

The board added that the formula works because Phelps Helps supports each participant on an individual path to academic and personal success while instilling the importance of

 

FORUM BUILT AWARENESS OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEM’S ROLE IN BUILDING COMMUNITY IDENTITY

Submitted by the Quebec English-Speaking

Communities Research Network

 

From Oct. 28 – 30, 2018, hundreds of researchers, practitioners, community stakeholders and policymakers gathered at Concordia University for a three-day forum on Minority Community Vitality Through Education.

 

Convened by the Inter-Level Educational Table, a committee of Quebec English-Speaking Communities Research Network (QUESCREN), the objective of the forum was to encourage mobilization around the development of a healthy and sustainable English-language educational offer in Quebec from pre-kindergarten to university that leads to student retention, access to good jobs in Quebec, and a strong sense of identity and belonging.

 

The four keynote addresses were: Education and the Vitality of Official Language Minority Communities by Raymond Théberge, Canada’s Commissioner of Official Languages; The View from Ontario by François Boileau, French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario; Strategic Initiatives for Minority Language Education in the European Union by Colin Williams, Cardiff University, University of Cambridge; and The English-Language School System in Québec: Who Cares? by Kate Le Maistre, Advisory Board on English Education.

 

Presentations addressed themes ranging from early childhood education and culture to English- Quebec studies in the university curriculum. The diversity of Quebec’s English-speaking communities was reflected in topics and speakers reflecting regional, indigenous, ethno-cultural, and visible minority communities’ realities.

 

Among other outcomes, participants obtained increased awareness of the education system’s role in building community identity; new opportunities to network and collaborate and; knowledge of community socio-economic realities including poverty, and networks and resources that can be mobilized to address them.

 

A summary report reflecting the key themes, successful practices and strategic recommendations that emerged from the forum will be publicly available in the new year. What the organizers can say for now is that participants gave some very positive feedback in the post-forum evaluation survey, and ILET hopes to create a second forum in 2020.

The conference program, speaker list and registration page may be viewed here.

 

 

THÉBERGE: SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL BOARDS HAVE A CERTAIN RESPONSIBILITY IN TERMS OF BROADER COMMUNITY VITALITY

Raymond Théberge, Canada’s Commissioner of Official Languages, who opened the Minority Community Vitality through Education forum, compared the situation in Quebec to official language minority communities outside Quebec. Here is an excerpt from this speech:

 

Historically, French-language schools outside of Quebec have been important cornerstones of Francophone community vitality. This has taken on even more significance since the adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 and the subsequent expansion of French-language schools across Canada, along with recognition of community management and control of educational instruction and facilities.

 

Quebec’s English-speaking community has not had the same experience. English-language schools have been well-established in communities throughout its history, so there has been no need to strengthen the ties between the community and its educational institutions. So, what now? What about your collective community, which is a much younger minority in spirit and self-awareness than the French-speaking minority communities outside of Quebec?

 

In my view, the increasingly accepted view that schools and school boards have a certain responsibility in terms of broader community vitality is a sign of growing political maturity and policy sophistication.

 

The past 35 years’ experience of French-language schools outside of Quebec may offer some helpful insights—in terms of community vitality—for the future of English-language schools in Quebec.

 

As most of you know, thanks to the 1982 Charter, hundreds of thousands of young French-speaking Canadians outside of Quebec have had the opportunity to go to school in their language, something that was difficult to do in the past and, despite the progress that’s been made, continues to be an issue in some regions even today.

 

Cases taken to court by official language minority communities play an essential role in defining and defending language rights in Canada. Over the years, court cases involving education rights—such as Mahe, Arsenault-Cameron, Doucet-Boudreau, Solski and Rose-des-Vents—have helped define the scope of the rights of the communities concerned.

 

For example, let’s look at the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1990 decision in the Mahe case. The Court recognized the right of parents belonging to the linguistic minority to manage their own educational institutions where numbers warrant. This decision was an important milestone in the development of French-language minority communities because it clarified the scope of their right to have their own schools and to manage them.

 

Another example is the Doucet-Boudreau case, in which the Supreme Court of Canada retained its jurisdiction to monitor the Nova Scotia government’s progress in building a French-language school.

 

More recently, in the case involving the French-language school in Saint-Paul-de-Kent, the Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick denied the decision of the former Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development to close the school, ruling that the right to do so rests with the school board. What happens next remains to be seen, as the provincial government announced that it will appeal the decision.

 

Closer to home, in Quebec, we’re seeing how the relationship between schools and communities is changing. In addition to the recent changes to the history curriculum, there was also the tabling of Bill 86 by the then Liberal government in December 2015, which proposed to eliminate school board elections in their current form. Education advocates reached out to the communities for help in protesting against the bill, and QCGN was instrumental in helping to mobilize community and media opposition to Bill 86. In May of 2016, the Government of Quebec withdrew the bill.

 

Fast-forward to today, more than two years later. The Liberals were defeated in the Oct. 1 election and have been replaced by François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ). And the new majority CAQ government has publicly said that it wants to abolish school boards altogether and replace them with service centres, controlled by parents.

 

I trust, however, that this is an issue that will once again see education advocates working together with the communities in the shared interest of community vitality in its broadest sense. In the interests of fairness and prudence, I will wait until the new government releases more detailed information before commenting further.

 

Read Commissioner Théberge’s full speech.

 

QUEBEC DRAMA FEDERATION HAS NEW DIGS

The Quebec Drama Federation (QDF) has a new home! To celebrate its new digs, the QDF hosted an open house on Nov. 8, 2018 at its brand new office on St Catherine Street West. Guests enjoyed snacks and sangria as many friends and stakeholders of the QDF came through its doors to celebrate including Guy Rodgers, Executive Director of the English-Language Arts Network (ELAN) (Pictured with Holly Greco, QDF Program Coordinator). QCGN also joined the party; Lynda Giffen, QCGN’s Director of Community Development chatted with Patrick Lloyd Brennan, QDFs new Managing Director on the important role that Arts and Culture has to play in promoting

the vitality of the English speaking Minorities of Quebec and the crucial role the QDF will play in this for years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMUNITY FÊTES 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF QCGN COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP AWARDS

By Bea Vongdouangchanh

 

The Quebec Community Groups Network celebrated the 10th anniversary of its community award program on Nov. 1, recognizing three community leaders and a young Quebecer who’ve made significant contributions to the English-speaking community in the province.

Olga Melikoff, Murielle Parkes and John Rae received the Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Community Service Award. The Goldbloom award celebrates individuals who, like the award’s namesakes, have dedicated their lives to ensuring English-speaking Quebec remains a vibrant community within Quebec and Canada. For many years Sheila and Victor Goldbloom invested their talents and skills for the betterment of the community and inspired others through their contributions.

The Young Quebecer Leading the Way Award, which is sponsored by Quebec Community Groups Network, the Fondation Notre Home Foundation and CBC Quebec, recognizes and celebrates the outstanding achievements of young English-speaking Quebecers who are engaged in innovative initiatives that create change in our communities. This year’s youth leadership award was presented to 23-year-old Hayley Campbell.

 

 

Moms of French Immersion 

In 1963, Olga Melikoff and Murielle Parkes along with their friend the late Valerie Neale, set out to create a French immersion program at Margaret Pendlebury Elementary School in St. Lambert. The province was changing, and they knew that if they wanted their children to have a good future in Quebec, they needed to be able to speak French.

In a tribute video produced by CBC, Melikoff said that the school boards were not behind the idea at first because “it was threatening to them.” She said they told her that if she wanted her children to be educated in French, they should go to the French board.

“Originally they said, ‘We can only give you a piece of the pie,’ and we said, ‘Well we want a different pie,’” Parkes added.

The three did not give up, and their effort changed the face of English-language public education across Canada and helped forge linguistic duality into a defining characteristic of our nation.

Advocacy for French immersion programs in English school boards was a “real community effort,” said Melikoff. But she singled high-profile Montreal Neurologist Wilder Penfield who supported them.

“He wrote us a four-page letter and that meant a lot because a lot of people thought there were a lot of problems with the program, for example, students will lose a year, they’ll have psychological problems,” she said before reading parts of his letter.

“Having read the proposal over, I can only say that if I had young children of my own, I should like to enter them there. If this scheme is established, I’m perfectly certain you will have the parents of young children come to St. Lambert because of it,” Melikoff quoted Penfield. “We need an example of this sort in the province of Quebec and Canada.”

Melikoff noted that Penfield was only wrong about one thing: “Parents didn’t come flocking to St. Lambert, they went to their own school boards and demanded immersion programs across the country.”

In presenting the award to Melikoff and Parkes, QCGN president Geoffrey Chambers said their contribution was “truly historic.”

 

English Community is Strong 

John Rae, a long-time Liberal Party adviser, community advocate and philanthropist, was recognized for his commitment to public service. He’s been involved with many philanthropic causes from education, music and the arts, athletics, social services and youth. In health care he helped to develop and implement a strategy to raise $300 million to build the new McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) hospital at the Glen site.

“Community involvement is how you become something bigger than yourself. You’ll be better for it, and your community will be better for it,” Rae said in a video tribute. “The English community in Quebec is a very strong community. The most important quality they have to embrace is openness. It is confident in itself and its future.”

Rae’s younger brother Bob, former Ontario premier and former interim Liberal leader, sent a message which Chambers read to the audience. He said he was sorry not to be there in person and praised his brother despite his “modesty and reluctance to take credit for what he does.”

Rae said he was humbled because he was in the same category as Parkes and Melikoff.

“Canada is a wonderful country. It’s an impossible but beautiful country and somehow we have a miracle of a country,” he said. “The reason is because when we go from coast to coast to coast, we have common values – if we look back over 50, 60 years, what tremendous progress we’ve made between Canadians of the two language groups, indigenous people and everyone who’s come here. … I’ve always believed that our system works best when the public sector and the private sector and the community sector work together to accomplish great things. This happens over and over and over. I’ve learned in the different elections I’ve conducted that victory lasts a short time, but responsibility lasts a long time. Thank you to everyone who work to better our country.”

 

Youth Willing to Make Change

Shawville resident Hayley Campbell, winner of the 2018 Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award, said that the future of Quebec is opening and welcoming and that her generation is willing to make change.

“It encourages me to continue doing what I’m doing to help make change in our society,” she said. “Shawville may be a small town but it has a big heart. I believe the large heart that Shawville has encourages people to seek ways to contribute to their community. With this award, I hope to inspire other youth to get involved.”

Her message to fellow youth: “It’s important to get involved, find something that really means something to you and seek out the opportunities. Don’t be afraid to give it a shot.”

Comedians and musicians Bowser and Blue performed at the awards ceremony, poking fun at Quebec and federal politics with a song about the Bonjour/Hi controversy and an accurate impression of former prime minister Jean Chrétien.

Rae, who worked with Chrétien for years, said he will be reporting back to him about Bowser and Blue’s presentation. “But knowing him the way I do, he would enjoy that presentation more than anybody,” he said.

 

 

Diverse and Beautiful

Ste-Rose MNA Christopher Skeete, parliamentary secretary to Premier Francois Legault, who is responsible for overseeing the province’s Secretariat for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, attended the ceremony and made introductory remarks.

“This is beautiful, this is awesome,” he said. “This evening is about celebrating the individuals who do a lot for the community. … English-speaking Quebecers are a vibrant community. These communities are diverse and beautiful as they are different and unique.”

Chambers noted that the QCGN has been advocating for years for the rights of English-speaking Quebecers and is happy that the Secretariat will remain under the CAQ government. “We’ll continue to be there to voice our community’s voice to the government of Quebec.”

Other VIPs in attendance included Liberal Opposition leader Pierre Arcand along with MNAs Kathleen Weil, Gregory Kelley and Jennifer Maccarone. Dozens of community leaders and stakeholders were also on hand.

Over the last 10 years, 32 individuals have won the Goldbloom Award and four youth have won the Young Quebecer Leading the Way Award.

 

 

QUEBEC CITY COMMUNITY CHRISTMAS HAMPER CAMPAIGN DELIVERS GOODNESS FOR HOLIDAY SEASON

Since 1995, the Community Christmas Hamper Campaign has been delivering goodness to over 200 homes in the Quebec City region during the holiday season.

The organizing committee of this annual initiative is composed of representatives from 18 organizations from the local English-speaking community, including QCGN member groups Voice of English-speaking Quebec, the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec (Morrin Centre), and Jeffery Hale Community Partners which coordinates the campaign’s central registry of English-speaking community members who need help during the holiday season.

For 23 years now, Quebec City’s English-speaking community has been collaborating towards the success of a Community Christmas Hamper Campaign, which distributes more than 200 Christmas hampers to homes in need in the Quebec City region. It’s an an enormous challenge with a most heart-warming outcome.

You can help deliver some goodness, give to the campaign in any or all of these ways:

  • Food: Drop off non-perishable food at one of several sites around town, including VEQ’s Holiday Happy Hour at the Morrin Centre on Wednesday, December 5.
  • Money: Write a cheque, give cash, or donate online towards the $30,000 annual objective. Funds buy fresh produce and other goods to supplement donated items.
  • Time: Help collect, sort, pack or drive: There are a variety of tasks that need volunteer power right up until delivery day on December 15.

For more details about how you can contribute, please visit qchampers.ca, email give@qchampers.ca or call Hamper Headquarters at 418 684-5333, ext. 1474.

Share your giving or receiving story on Facebook or Twitter at #qchampers.

 

Thank you for reading our regular newsletter. For up-to-date news about the Quebec Community Groups Network you can visit our website at www.qcgn.ca or follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Network News September 2018

ENGLISH-SPEAKING QUEBECERS THE REAL WINNERS IN FIRST EVER TELEVISED ENGLISH LEADERS’ DEBATE

By Geoffrey Chambers 
QCGN President

The countdown to next Monday’s general election in Quebec has begun and the English electorate is being courted more than ever before. Last Monday’s first-ever English-language televised leaders debate was a watershed moment and evidence of a heightened willingness across Quebec’s political class to reach out to English-speaking Quebecers in their own language. It also signalled acknowledgement by all parties that none can afford to ignore our community of more than one million. It’s the first time the English-speaking community has received such attention. While welcome, and gratefully acknowledged, it is also long overdue. Too often, English-speaking Quebecers have been forced to rely on volunteers and agencies run on a shoestring for services elsewhere provided in French by government agencies and public sector staff. It is not sustainable, and it is not acceptable. Read QCGN’s op-ed in The Montreal Gazette. Also read The Gazette’s editorial.

Debate and Secretariat

I wholeheartedly agree with media commentators and other pundits who opined that the real winners in last week’s historic televised English-language leaders debate were English-speaking Quebecers. Members of our community who tuned in to the debate were listening closely for commitments on a variety of issues including access to quality health care and social services in English, the future of our school boards and what a future Quebec government plans to do to stem the exodus of our young graduates. QCGN was pleased that, when asked if they’d keep the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, the leaders of the four major parties said yes. Unfortunately, Coalition Action Québec leader François Legault commented in the post-debate scrums that “I think it’s mostly smoke and mirrors” but that that he’s open to keeping it “if it’s useful.” While not perfect, the secretariat is a hard-won and essential device to open up the operations of the provincial government to our English-speaking community. It must to be a channel for much greater policy input into government ministries as well as an agent acting to open up the civil service to participation and employment of members of our community. We want our politicians to envisage a Secretariat that has the responsibility to ensure government policies, program and services meet the needs of Quebec’s English-speaking minority community and ensure its full development. We need a Secretariat that makes certain that English-speaking Quebecers are served more adequately by the government and its institutions in their own language, not one that strives to replace our active community leadership. Watch the final debate theme on “Anglo relations” and closing remarks here and the post-debate scrums here. See coverage of the debate on CTV Montreal and CBC Montreal and the results of the media team’s fact checking here. Also read this opinion by Global Montreal news director Karen Macdonald.

QCGN’s Election Agenda for English-speaking Quebecers

In 27 ridings, more than 20 per cent of voters are English-speaking, and they represent more than 10 per cent of the voters in another 19 ridings. In many of these ridings, the number of English-speaking voters is larger than the margin of victory in the last general election. These voters can make the difference, especially in close races. Many of those races will be decided by the way the party leaders address the issues vital to our community. Long before the election writ was dropped on August 17, QCGN launched its election campaign with the publication of our Election Issues webpage. After reaching out to member groups and stakeholder organizations representing English-speaking Quebecers over the summer our webpage includes the issues of concern to Quebecers across various regions and sectors. Broken down into 16 themes, the webpage includes issues that concern our community from Education and Health Care to Regional Community Development and Arts, Culture and Heritage. Our Elections Committee strongly encourages members of our community to use our fully bilingual documents to share the critical concerns of our community with your local candidates to get them to commit to positive change for English-speaking Quebecers. You can download it in English or French, or download it off the QCGN webpage. QCGN also reactivated our Vote it Up Facebook page to share news and information about the election from our community’s perspective. And, to engage young English-speaking voters, we have re-energized our Vote it Up Instagram and Twitteraccounts. We encourage you to use the hashtags #AnglosVote and #Qc2018. Our community can really make a difference as we head to the polls in October. Let’s be heard.

Meeting with Mélanie Joly

A midsummer’s cabinet shuffle created some mild confusion about the role of Mélanie Joly, who become Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie. Later in August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau published Joly’s official mandate letter which offers some clarification on her new role. The letter directs Minister Joly to continue to implement the Action Plan for Official Languages; to begin an examination towards modernizing the Official Languages Act; to prepare celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act; to establish a free, online service for learning and retaining English and French as second languages; and, to work with the President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government to ensure that all federal services are delivered in full compliance with the Official Languages Act. During the shuffle, longtime Quebec MP Pablo Rodriguez became Minister of Canadian Heritage. Implementation of the Action Plan was the subject of our discussion with Minister Joly  as we updated her on the progress of the Priority Setting Steering Committee and its consultation related to the new $5 million fund contained in the Action Plan for Official Languages 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future. (see details below). We also discussed modernizing the Official Languages Act as well as the need to strengthen the representation of English-speaking Quebec in the national official languages’ discussion.

English-speaking MP from Quebec on Language Committee

Our long held concern about the lack of English-speaking representative on the House of Commons Official Languages Committee was finally addressed last week as St-Laurent MP Emmanuella Lambropoulos was named to the committee along with St-Jean MP Jean R. Rioux, whose riding is home to 3,600 English-speaking Quebecers mainly living on the military base there. The committee, know in parliamentary circles as LANG, is chaired by Brome-Missisquoi Liberal MP Denis Paradis. The vice-chairs are Alupa Clarke(Conservative) and François Choquette (NDP). Still on the committee are René Arsenault, Mona Fortier, Darrell Samson, Sylvie Boucher and Bernard Généreux. Royal Fundy MP Alaina Lockhart, who was appointed as the new Parliamentary Secretary for Official Languages this summer, sits on the committee as a non-voting member.

Community Receives $7 Million in Funding

On Tuesday, August 14, Minister Kathleen Weil announced $6.9 million from the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers to provide funding for organizations that provide services to English-speaking communities. The provincial funding, which was previously announced in the budget in March, aims to help organizations fulfill their missions, expand the territories they cover, and the diversify their activities. The lion’s share of the money will be channelled through Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN), which is receiving $5.7 million over the next three years to support the community development priorities of more than two dozen local and regional organizations it coordinates as part of the Networking and Partnership Initiative. Three other groups—the English Language Art Network (ELAN), Seniors Action Quebec (SAQ) and Literacy Quebec—will each receive $400,000 over the next three years to maintain their services, to expand their operations in the regions, and to strengthen links with various levels of government. Agreements with two other groups, including the QCGN, were not yet concluded when the announcement came two days before the provincial elections was called. QCGN is still awaiting funding that was pledged for program and policy work around recruitment in the public service, examining the offer of services in the various ministries; as well as community development planning and development activities. Because community development and advocacy go hand in hand, the QCGN asked the Minister to establish a joint engagement committee of the QCGN and the CHSSN to further community development objectives. Minister Weil said the Secretariat is committed to establishing and supporting such as committee to support information sharing and facilitate cooperation in the English-speaking community; to identify and discuss current and future development priorities important to English-speaking Quebecers; and to provide a forum for sharing information, ideas, and activities which contribute to the vitality or English-speaking Quebec. In addition, the Secretariat also announced a call for projects for the Strengthen Community Vitality – Renforcer la vitalité des communautés was launched for the total budget of $9 million over the next three years. Click here for details on the support program, a Q & A section, the application form for funding and the normative framework. See government release (French only). See coverage in The Montreal Gazette, on CTV Montreal on Global Montreal, on CBC and on CJAD News. Also view coverage CTV Montreal’s interview with Minister Weil. While the QCGN welcomed the new funding, it regretted the fact that there was no community-based process to identify what the overall needs of Quebec’s English-speaking community are, how to address them effectively, and, more importantly, to create a platform to advocate for badly needed additional funding.  Read our press release and view my interview with CTV Montreal’s Maya Johnson.

Provincial Access Committee Named

Almost drowned out in reports of the of funding announcement was long-awaited news of the appointment of 11 committed community leaders to the Provincial Committee for the Provision of Health and Social Services in the English Language. Announced via press release on Tuesday afternoon from the offices of Health Minister Gaétan Barrette and Kathleen Weil, the Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, the creation of a new committee is the result of years of hard advocacy by QCGN’s Health and Social Services Committee and its chair, Eric Maldoff that began with the introduction of Bill 10 in 2015. Amendments to the controversial legislation reconfirmed and strengthened regional access committees that continue to have a meaningful involvement in the preparation of access plans for the provision of services in English. Over the past three years, the QCGN in partnership with the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN) worked with Health Minister Barrette and the government of Quebec to revise and update the regulation governing this advisory committee which is mandated it to advise the Minister of Health on the accessibility and quality of health and social services for English-speaking Quebecers. In April, Minister Barrette announced a revamped regulation confers responsibility on the QCGN and the CHSSN for recruiting and proposing committee members to the Minister of Health ensuring that members of the provincial access committee are more representative of Quebec’s English-speaking community. The new process led to a strong committee made up of English-speaking Quebecers who will be able to advocate forcefully in favour of the real and pressing need for English-speaking Quebecers to have proper access to health and social services in our own language. Read the government’s press release (French only). Read QCGN’s press release.

2017-2018 Annual Report

The electronic version of the QCGN’s Annual Report is available online

PRINCIPLES AND PRIORITIES SET FOR NEW ACTION PLAN FUNDS 

During QCGN’s annual meeting on June 15-16, our Network and Community celebrated the federal government’s recently released Action Plan for Official Languages which delivered on our Network request for a dedicated development fund for community organizations working with vulnerable English-speaking minority communities in Quebec.

The federal government’s Action Plan for Official Languages – 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future increased funding available for organizations serving English-speaking Quebec and established a $5-million development fund to help our community organizations find sustainable ways to deliver services to English speakers in various regions and sectors.
The new $5 million fund is over and above a boost to baseline funding for official language minority organizations across Canada which increases the Cooperation with the Community Sector – Development of Official Languages fund in Quebec by $1.24 million over the next five years.

As English-speaking Quebec’s official interlocutor with the Federal Department of Canadian Heritage, the QCGN was asked to identify core principles and priorities of action for the distribution of the additional funding being made through the new development fund and the Cooperation with the Community Sector – Development of Official Languages program.

At the annual general meeting, the QCGN’s Priority Setting Steering Committee (PSSC) was tasked with leading the consultation process to come up with community funding priorities for the additional resources. QCGN Vice-President Gerald Cutting, along with QCGN Board members Sharleen Sullivan and Christopher Neal, were appointed to the PSSC on June 16 and they have been hard at work identifying a group of community individuals with the broadest possible expertise to help lead this process.

The PSSC identified three individuals from the QCGN Network and three stakeholders from the community at large who were willing to dedicate much of their summer to this vital exercise. Representing the Network are Michael Udy (Seniors Action Quebec), who has expertise about seniors, vulnerable youth, and health and social services institutions; Guy Rodgers (English Language Arts Network), who has expertise in Arts, Culture and Heritage; and Mario Clarke (Youth Employment Services) who has expertise in youth, employment, and entrepreneurship, will represent the Network on the committee.

The PSSC also co-opted three members from the community: Tiffany Callendar from the Côte-des-Neiges Black Community Association Inc., who has wide knowledge of vulnerable communities on the Island of Montreal; John Buck, CEO of the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC); and Marlene Jennings, former Liberal MP. Additionally, the committee called upon a number of community and other resources,
Over the summer, some 67 community sector organizations took the time to complete a survey and participate in a series of five focus groups. The PSSC then held a sense-making session to interpret data collected through its broad community consultation. A handful of community experts including longtime PSSC chair Walter Duszara were invited to join the exercise.

Last week, PSSC chair Gerald Cutting submitted the Report of the Priority Setting Steering Committee related to the 2018 Community Consultation. This report reflects the principles and priorities of action set by the English-speaking Community of Quebec related to additional funding.

“We invite all supporting stakeholders at all levels of government to take special note of this report’s contents, which are broad in scope, ambitious in scale, and dependent on collaboration between the community sector and public partners,” said Cutting.

“Our Committee, which has been serving English-speaking Quebec since 2011, is far from finished its work,” he added. “We are now looking at ways to ensure the community has a greater say in how public money is distributed, and how we can most effectively manage the growth of our community sector to service the needs of English-speaking communities across Quebec. As always, we will not be able to complete this work without the community’s active input, so stay tuned!”

QCGN HIRES DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Lynda Giffen, who joined the QCGN as its new director of community development and engagement this week, brings a decade and a half of experience in community development and engagement to Quebec’s English-speaking community.

Last week Lynda said a bittersweet and heartfelt goodbye to the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre in Ottawa where she led advocacy, health equity, social justice, and community development initiatives within the public health sector that aimed to improve the social determinants of health.

But Lynda is excited to join the QCGN and looks forward to engaging with the challenges faced by Quebec’s English-speaking community.

“I have spent 15 years advocating for all sorts of communities, but never my own,” said the fluently bilingual former resident of Pointe Claire and Morin Heights in the Laurentians as she began work on Monday.

“We are thrilled to have Lynda onboard,” commented QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge. “She is lively and energetic and will be a definite asset to our dedicated team here are the QCGN.”

Since receiving her Master of Education in Community Learning and Development from the University of Glasgow in Scotland, Lynda has been involved with a wide range of collegiate, government, public health, community arts, and community justice organizations.

Over her career, Lynda has been invited to deliver seminars and lectures on community development for Carleton University, for the United Way Speakers Bureau, and for the Alliance for Healthier Communities of Ontario. Lynda has led the creation of numerous community development initiatives, including government information campaigns in England, community arts projects both in Canada and in Scotland. She also facilitates community justice, social change theatre, and popular education workshops.

Lynda has led the creation of numerous community development initiatives, including government information campaigns in England, community arts projects both in Canada and in Scotland, award-winning youth educational initiatives across the City of Glasgow, grassroots advocacy campaigns, social equity projects with Ottawa’s Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centres (in a variety of areas such as access to healthy food, right to housing, transportation, urban planning and more) and the creation of guiding principles for community development for the City of Ottawa.

A strong believer in the inextricable link between advocacy and community development, Lynda is an advocate of value-based, anti-discriminatory practice, human rights, and in delivering social change grounded in equity, health and well-being.

QCGN is also pleased to welcome Andrew Palucci aboard our team as our policy intern. Andrew comes to us from the masters of public policy and public administration program at Concordia University and we are excited to have him here as our first official intern.

Andrew will be helping the QCGN to develop policy, liaise with the federal government and provide a youth perspective for English-speaking Quebecers. He is working closely with Stephen Thompson, our director of government relations, policy and research.

QCGN TO PAY TRIBUTE TO FOUR REMARKABLE  LEADERS AT 10TH ANNIVERSARY COMMUNITY AWARDS GALA

 

By Rita Legault
QCGN Director of Communications

Olga Melikoff and Murielle Parkes were the movers and shakers behind the parent-driven experiment in bilingual education. Immersion blossomed into an icoˆnic feature of the English-language public education system in Quebec, and then expanded throughout the rest of Canada.

Some 50 years ago, Melikoff, Parkes and the late Valerie Neale were leaders of a parent group that established Canada’s first French immersion program at the former Margaret Pendlebury Elementary School in the Montreal suburb of St. Lambert.

This formidable trio of stay-at-home mothers recognized during the Quiet Revolution that Quebec was changing, and that English-language public education needed to change with it. Working with bilingualism experts Wallace Lambert and Richard Tucker in 1965-66, the St. Lambert Parents for Bilingual Education created a pioneering French immersion class of 26 students.

This initiative ultimately changed the face of English-language public education across Canada. It has also helped forge linguistic duality into a defining characteristic of our nation.

Over the past four decades, John Rae has proven a quiet benefactor for Quebec’s English-speaking community. He has operated primarily behind the scenes, supporting a wide variety of educational, medical, cultural and community philanthropic endeavours.

Exhibiting a natural ability to bring people together for a cause, Rae has generously provided time, energy, experience, business acumen and financial support for the benefit of hundreds of community organizations and individuals.

Despite the rigorous demands of a career at Power Corporation, Rae has demonstrated exceptional commitment to a variety of community causes. These include the McGill University Foundation, where he served as chair of the Best Care for Life Campaign which raised some $300 million in support of teaching hospitals to foster collaboration and innovation for the benefit of thousands of patients, their families and our community.

Rae and his wife, Phyllis, have also lent their prestige and time to other local causes as diverse as the Montreal Heart Institute, the Centaur Theatre and the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir.

Beginning at a young age, community service has been an important value for Hayley Campbell, winner of this year’s Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award.
Her active involvement has ranged from Scouts and Girl Guides to presiding at the Alpha Phi fraternity at Bishop’s University.

Her long and impressive history of active leadership and involvement within and outside her community has also encompassed Quebec 4-H, the Pontiac County Women’s Institute and a dynamic role at the Shawville Fair.

Among other honours, Hayley was accepted to the Alpha Phi Leadership Fellows Program for her leadership promise and was selected by the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada as a delegate to the International Peace Gardens Scholarship for young women interested in leadership, inspiring others and positive social change.

Launched in 2009, the Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Community Service Award recognizes individuals who have gone above and beyond in contributing to the vitality and reputation of the English-speaking community and who have built bridges of understanding between Quebecers of diverse backgrounds. The Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award was created in 2015 by QCGN, the Fondation Notre Home Foundation and CBC Quebec to acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding achievements of English-speaking Quebecers under the age of 30.

Our winners have been invited to receive their awards at a community celebration Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, at Montreal’s prestigious St-James Club. Entertainment will be provided by the incomparable Bowser and Blue. Co-sponsored by the Fondation Notre Home Foundation, the evening will be emceed by Sean Henry, weekend anchor at CBC News Montreal. Details and tickets at http://qcgn.ca/community-awards/.

INNOVATIVE PROJECTS ASSIST MONTREAL AREA SENIORS WITH COMPUTER SKILLS AND TRANSPORT

By Irwin Block


For English speaking seniors, lacking computer skills can be a major handicap in using social media to connect with family, community, and stay well informed. Because those in the 55-plus demographic often live alone, with family members having moved away, transport and accompaniment to medical appointments is another need.

Two projects targeting these areas, and found to be innovative and sustainable, are among 10 programs in Quebec sharing in a $1 million Community Innovation Fund, provided by the federal government’s Social Partnership Development Program and managed by the Quebec Community Groups Network.

NEW HOPE HELPS SENIORS UPGRADE THEIR COMPUTER SKILLS

The New Hope Senior Citizen’s Centre in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce is using its $87,840 grant over two years to hold classes that help seniors upgrade their computer skills and, in that way, break isolation.

The classes have proven to be popular and well attended. They fit well into the social reality of the area because NDG has one of the highest concentrations of English-speaking seniors in Quebec, an estimated 41 per cent of whom live alone.

Amel Tisier, program coordinator at the centre, says the grant was used to lease laptops, tablets, and digital cameras, and then to hire Gabriel Velasco to teach.

Spreading the word was easy and interest was high among those who use its programs, including the Rendez-Vous series New Hope runs with the NDG YMCA.

“A lot of people had been asking about computer programs. They have their grandkids who are using devices when they come around,” Tisier said. “A lot of family members have left the province and they want to use Skype and send emails.”

In addition, many seniors want help to use increasingly complex smartphones to stay connected with loved ones.

To ensure the classes were successful, the program recruited volunteers to provide one-on-one help. Lessons are 90 minutes long on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The students practice for 90 minutes — with the help of volunteers.

Participation had to be limited to 33 students, most of whom are in the 55-plus demographic. There are two intermediate level classes and one for beginners. The program is free for members of New Hope. Membership costs $24.

“It’s accomplishing more than we had anticipated,” Tisier said. “There is a liveliness that comes with being in a classroom setting, with people learning things that are helping change their lives, and that brings the students together. There is a lot of joy in the classroom, and it’s good for self-esteem, encouraging and hopeful. They can see progress after six weeks.”

Barbara Ann Howard said she enrolled in the program to learn to send emails and improve her Google searches. It was so beneficial that after completing her first six-week session as a beginner, she enrolled in a second one.

“I could receive emails, but I couldn’t send back to my family, who are all over the world. The training we get is excellent. We get individualized help and the teacher is terrific.”
Nicole Wernhart joined as an intermediate, wanting to upgrade her iPad skills.

“I needed to brush up on a lot of things, and it’s been very useful. If you’re confused about something, you get help right away,” she observed.

Instructor Gabriel Valesco says the word is getting out in the community, which is why there are now three classes instead of two. The students themselves decide what they want to learn.
“We just decided that we will be learning about video chatting, to make it easier to have conversation with friends and family who live far away.”

NDG SENIOR CITIZENS COUNCIL HELPS LOW-INCOME SENIORS TO COMBAT ISOLATION

Getting to medical appointments is a challenging and necessary part of life for seniors, especially members of the English-speaking community who, along with financial and mobility issues, may be dealing with dementia.

The NDG Senior Citizens Council, in its 42 years of work to assist low-income area seniors and combat isolation, had been using volunteers to transport people in the 50-plus demographic at no cost, provided they receive the old age supplement.

But several years ago, the group realized it could do a lot more, and in April 2017, thanks to its grant of $119,200 over two years, added full accompaniment for seniors receiving medical attention with another goal of engaging newcomers.

The project involves hiring recently arrived immigrants as drivers to accompany and assist seniors. The response was immediate and positive. New immigrants, such as Zaïd, from Syria, were eager to contribute to their new city and increase their employability by adding this work to their C.V. Often they also help clients navigate the healthcare network.

“A lot of the low-income seniors in our area don’t have family and many are isolated so when it comes to having to get to doctors’ appointments, they can’t go alone,’’ explained Shari Polowin, the council’s director of development.

The new immigrant workers benefited from the integration, practicing their English or French, and becoming more accustomed to Canada.

“The seniors feel like they’re helping the new immigrants, and the new immigrants are helping the seniors – a beautiful combination,” added Polowin.

Action Transport coordinator Anne Mackay explained that when she came on board four years ago, she was overseeing medical transport to medical appointments for about 150 people. Volunteer drivers were paid a minimal stipend, to cover expenses. All had driver’s permits and could communicate in English or French.

Thanks to the funding, the number receiving help with medical transport has more than doubled and drivers’ stipend has slightly increased, although it remains below the minimum wage in Quebec, which is $12 an hour.

In the first year of the program, drivers made 1,314 trips for seniors, and three-quarters of the seniors were given free taxi chits for the return home. A total of 319 seniors were accompanied on their visits and driven home.

In a letter to the council, Action Transport user Yvonne Weiss described the program as “a godsend.” Kathy Jukes wrote from Vancouver to express gratitude for the help given to her mom in Montreal, Julie Ramanoski, who is 92, has health issues, uses a walker, and is hard of hearing.

“All she could talk about was her accompaniment, a young man named Zaïd, who she said, never left her side,” Ramanoski wrote. “He was kind, considerate and knew the Jewish General Hospital very well. He even apologized for making her walk some distance, which was absolutely unavoidable. She needed the walk anyway.”

This is the third in a series of articles about projects that were funded under the Community Innovation Fund. For further information about the CIF please contact Christine Boyle at 514-868-9044, ext. 257.

ELAN THRILLED WITH $7.5 MILLION INVESTMENT IN ARTS AND CULTURE FOR OFFICIAL LANGUAGE MINORITY SCHOOLS

The English-language Arts Network, aka ELAN Quebec, is thrilled to be receiving support from the Government of Canada’s new fund for Official Language Minority Community schools that will fund artistic and cultural activities in 1,000 official language minority schools throughout the country.

As she celebrated Franco-Ontarian Day on Tuesday, Official Languages Minister Mélanie Joly announced that students at official-language minority schools across Canada will be able to enjoy a variety of artistic and cultural activities thanks to an investment of up to $7.5 million starting in 2019–20.

“Our government recognizes how important it is for students in official-language minority communities to be able to enjoy culturally enriching experiences that make them proud of their language and their culture,” said Joly. “We are proud to implement this program, which will not only increase the number of activities offered, but also immerse students at official-language minority schools in the cultural life of their community. Canada’s two official languages are deeply rooted in our history and are key elements of our Canadian identity.”

Thanks to this investment, more than 4,000 cultural activities will take place over the next four years, Joly said, noting that in addition to contributing to the vitality of the community, these activities will allow students to learn more about their culture, thereby helping them build their sense of identity in their first official language. Read the minister’s release.

The Community Cultural Action Micro-Grant Program for Minority Schools offers new micro-grants to support cultural activities in schools. These activities will be managed by two community and cultural organizations: ELAN and the Fédération culturelle canadienne-française (FCCF), their French-language counterpart outside Quebec.

“Providing students in Quebec schools with opportunities to explore their identity through the arts contributes to developing creativity and a sense of belonging,” said Christie Huff, ELAN’s ACE (Arts, Communities, Education) Initiative project manager.

“Artistic and cultural activities in education are a key building block of community vitality in Quebec’s official language minority,” added ELAN president Bettina Forget. “Through these micro-grants, Minister Joly has made an important investment in this vitality.”

ELAN will distribute micro-grants in Quebec to community-based organizations, along with official language minority schools. A transparent, simple, and accessible application process will be developed with Canadian Heritage and the FCCF, and in consultation with ELAN’s community and education partners.

GOVERNMENT OF CANADA TO HOLD SPEED STAFFING RECRUITMENT EVENT

Under Part VI the Official Languages Act, the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that the composition of the work-force of federal institutions reflects the presence our community, which represents 13.7 per cent of Quebec’s total population.
While some institutions meet or exceed this representation, others do not. The QCGN is working with our federal partners to ensure better compliance with Part VI of the Act and increase the number of English-speaking Quebecers employed by federal institutions located here in Quebec.
Last March, the QCGN, along with several other English-speaking organizations, like Youth Employment Services, and post-secondary education institutions, took part in a consultation with the Quebec Federal Council’s official languages’ committee to explore ways to increase the participation of English-speaking Quebecers in the federal public service in Quebec.
The Quebec Federal Council is a standing committee of the senior leaders of federal institutions operating in Quebec. One of the obstacles to recruiting English-speaking Quebecers was the amount of time it takes to make an offer of employment to prospective individuals. As a result, the Public Service Commission proposed a pilot project using technique of “Speed Staffing” in Quebec.
The time between an application for a federal government job and the beginning of the hiring process can range from four to six months following the usual process. This fast-track process will reduce that to four weeks.
“We are very pleased that this speed staffing initiative has been given the green light and will begin next week,” said QCGN Director-General Sylvia Martin-Laforge.
The Public Service Commission will be holding an accelerated recruitment event in Montreal on Saturday, November 3. Individuals invited to the event who successfully complete an interview, will be given a conditional offer of employment on the spot.
A wide range of jobs will be up for grabs form entry level administrative assistants to technical and computer engineers. Other jobs will include mid-level jobs in accounting, finance, auditors, agents, human resources and fiscal evasion investigators. Jobs are available in the Montreal area and throughout the province.
Most of the position require fluence in both official languages. Some candidates take themselves out of the running because they fear their second-language skills are not good enough. If you want to see if your skills meet the mark, you can take this public service self-assessment test online.

Here are the critical dates:
October 2 – 9:  The jobs will be posted on the Government of Canada Jobs site. It is highly recommended that individuals interested in employment with the federal government create an account on this website right away (prior to the jobs being posted).
October 12:  Pre-selection of candidates for speed staffing event.
October 15 – 19:  Invitations will be issued to candidates.
November 3:  Accelerated recruitment interviews.
Stay tuned to QCGN’s Twitter feed and Facebook page for updated information

OCTOBER FORUM AT CONCORDIA TO OFFER INSIGHTS AND STRATEGIES FOR ENGLISH-LANGUAGE COMMUNITY VITALITY THROUGH EDUCATION

Submitted by the Quebec English-Speaking 
Communities Research Network Quebec 

How should education contribute to the vitality of Quebec’s English-speaking minority community? This will be discussed by dozens of researchers, practitioners, community stakeholders and policy makers who will gather at Concordia University for a three-day conference in October.

The Minority Community Vitality through Education forum takes place at Concordia University on October 28-30. It examines the state of Quebec’s English-speaking minority, a community that has been present in Quebec for more than 250 years.

“Educational institutions are the cornerstone of our community and essential to the transmission of the language and unique culture of English-speaking Quebec,” said Dr. Chedly Belkhodja, co-director of the Quebec English-Speaking Communities Research Network (QUESCREN) and a professor at Concordia University. “This diverse community, which is increasingly bilingual and integrated into Quebec society, is committed to continuing excellence in its educational institutions and to taking steps to ensure its vitality.”

Research reveals that the challenges facing English-speaking communities include employment, education, health, culture, access to municipal and provincial services, outmigration and more. Through panels, workshops and discussions, this forum aims to address these challenges and bring forward solutions.

“The overall goal is to encourage mobilization around the development of a healthy and
sustainable English-language educational offer, from pre-K to university, that leads to
student retention, access to good jobs in Quebec and a strong sense of identity and
belonging,” said Dr. Richard Schmid, forum program committee member and professor, Concordia University.

“This forum presents an historic opportunity for researchers, community and institutional leaders and government officials to consider the crucial role that education plays in community vitality,” said William Floch, Assistant Secretary of the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers. “By considering the links between education and community networks and across sectors such as health and social services, arts, culture and heritage and employability, participants will be able to share their experiences and perspectives and contribute to the well-being of English-speaking Quebecers.”

The conference is being organized by the Inter-Level Educational Table (ILET), which brings together representatives of Quebec’s English-language educational institutions and associations, along with community groups and the public sector. ILET is a key initiative of QUESCREN a collaborative network of researchers, stakeholders, and educational and other institutions. Established in 2008 and housed at Concordia University’s School of Community and Public Affairs, QUESCREN aims to improve how Quebec’s English-speaking communities are understood and to promote their vitality.

Funding for this forum comes from several sources including the government of Quebec’s Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers. Canadian Heritage, Concordia University, the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities, Via Rail, Bishop’s University and the Quebec Community Groups Network are also providing support for the Forum.

The conference program, speaker list and registration page may be viewed here.

PROMOTING DIGITAL LITERACY AND ADVANCING EQUALITY AT THE ATWATER LIBRARY

Submitted by the Atwater Library  and Computer Centre

The Atwater Library is working with community groups and schools to engage people in using digital technology productively and creatively, and to advance equality.

“190 years after the Atwater Library’s founding as the Montreal Mechanics’ Institution, we are more active than ever in the community,” commented Lynn Verge, executive director of the Atwater Library and Computer Centre. “We’ve moved with the times and emphasize useful ways of fulfilling our educational and social mission.”

In the early 1980s, the Library established a computer centre in its building on Atwater Avenue near the Atwater Metro station, and started welcoming the public for Internet access, computer use and training. Today the computer centre has 12 up-to-date stations that serve a diversity of people. Regular users include longtime residents who enjoy the building’s atmosphere and refugee claimants staying at the Y Residence next door who need to fill out and submit government forms.

The training roster now includes group sessions in an eight-station classroom and private instruction wherever it suits the clients. The most popular offerings are Introduction to Excel and iPads and iPhones – Tips and Tricks.

Starting in 2007 with pilot funding from Canadian Heritage, the library has been collaborating with community partners on digital literacy training and digital media production. Under the banner Digital Literacy Project, the Library has partnered with more than 60 groups and schools and through them, approximately 4,500 individuals ranging in age from six to 96.

Digital Literacy Project activities depend on project funding. Currently, with support from Concordia University researchers, the Library is engaging seniors in making videos and podcasts that tell stories of people and places in the vicinity.

During the last school year, with funding from RECLAIM Literacy, the Library’s staff worked with students at James Lyng High School. In 2017, with funding to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, the Library and several partner groups helped 150 Montrealers each make a 150-second video about aspects of being Canadian. The 150 videos are on the Library’s website for all to enjoy.

Over the past several years, the Atwater Library has conducted important projects funded by Status of Women Canada, which harnessed the talents of girls and young women to devise strategies for overcoming barriers to their economic self-sufficiency and for eliminating gender-based cyberbullying. Those activities led to a current major project addressing the problem of rape culture on college campuses. Three community leaders — Dr. Shanly Dixon, Dr. Eileen Kerwin-Jones, and Brenda Lamb — are promoting this project at a national level through a pan-Canadian network of 150 women leaders working on a variety of related projects.

For more information, please contact Community Development Librarian Eric Craven at eric@atwaterlibrary.ca.

VEQ FALL FEST BRINGS COMMUNITY TOGETHER

By Shirley Nadeau 
Quebec Chronicle Telegraph

Voice of English-speaking Quebec’s annual Fall Fest is always a much-anticipated event for the members of Quebec City’s English-speaking community. Once again this year, Mother Nature smiled down on those who gathered at St. Vincent Elementary School’s gymnasium and playground on a bright, sunny Saturday, Sept. 15.

While adults visited information tables at the community group and business showcase in the gymnasium, children bounced around on inflatable castles and slides outside.

There was also a Kids’ Zone where youngsters could have their faces painted or do some colouring themselves. The Code Mobile demonstrations attracted many young people who could learn basic coding and practice on laptops. The hit, though, had to be the Be Active Québec zone, where kids could whip up their own smoothies in a blender attached to the back wheel of a stationary bicycle. Quebec High School students barbecued hot dogs and served drinks and other snacks throughout the day.

Entertainment was provided on a stage set up just outside the gymnasium. The first group to perform were the Shannon Irish Dancers, who kicked up their heels to the delight of those gathered around.

A beautifully costumed group of dancers from Studio Danse Mirage gave a demonstration of bharatanatyam and bhangra dances from India.

Members of the Quebec Art Company surprised everyone with a “flash mob” performance of excerpts from their hugely successful spring production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Director Peter Black spoke about upcoming plays, A Streetcar Named Desire in late November and Noises Off in the spring. And after hinting that the next musical, in fall 2019, would be Fiddler On the Roof, the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar burst out singing “Sunrise, Sunset!”
Another troupe of beautifully dressed dancers from the group Communauté Indonesienne et sa Culture à Québec presented dances from Indonesia.

The final stage presentation was storytime, much appreciated by tired youngsters and their parents.

Reprinted with permission from the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph.

Thank you for reading our regular newsletter. For up-to-date news about the Quebec Community Groups Network you can visit our website at www.qcgn.ca or follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Network News June 2018

WORKING TOGETHER FOR QUEBEC’S ENGLISH-SPEAKING COMMUNITIES

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

By Geoffrey Chambers
QCGN President

Not long after I joined the board of the Quebec Community Groups Network, there was a lively discussion on a new tagline for our Network. After months of deliberations, we came to a simple two-word phrase that speaks volumes: Working Together. Working strategically and cooperatively for the benefit of our organizations and communities is what we have all done for the past year and what we will continue to do as we endeavour to ensure the development and vitality of our communities and our cornerstone institutions. Last Friday and Saturday more than 100 of our members and stakeholders from across many sectors and many regions of Quebec gathered for the 23rd annual meeting of the Quebec Community Groups Network in Montreal where I had the distinct pleasure of being acclaimed QCGN’s eighth president.

I want to thank outgoing President James Shea for his two years at the helm. We accomplished a great deal under his leadership and our Network and community owe him a debt of gratitude. I also want to thank departing directors Walter Duszara, our board secretary who aptly led our Priority Setting Steering Committee for four years, and Juan Carlos Quintana, for their years of hard work and dedication to QCGN and the community. The next few years will be pivotal for our Network and Community of Communities. There will be challenges, but we will work together with our steadfast board of directions, our committed members, and our community stakeholders to transform them into opportunities.

First-ever Provincial Minister and Secretariat

At last year’s convention we received word that Premier Philippe Couillard was taking the historic step of recognizing our community by establishing a Secretariat responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebec. He later decided to appoint Kathleen Weil as the first-ever Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers. Weil and D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum, who were on hand for our annual meeting along with Assistant Secretary William Floch, congratulated the QCGN on its perseverance in demanding a structure within government responsible for the needs and priorities of English-speaking Quebecers. Over the past year QCGN and our members were key players in helping the Secretariat and Minister embark on an ambitious strategy to support our community. Our interventions, including a first-ever consultation with the Minister of Finance Carlos Leitao, led to direct benefits to the tune of $24.5 million over the next six years to support community institutions and work to keep young English-speaking Quebecers at home in their province. One of the spinoffs of our work with the province was Minister Weil issuing a large-scale call for applications for positions in the Quebec public service. The recruitment drive sought professionals in a variety of fields, across all administrative regions of Quebec. QCGN worked with the Secretariat and involved members and close community stakeholders to ensure that large numbers of qualified English-speaking Quebecers were made aware of the program. We hope our campaign will encourage people to consider careers in the civil service and ultimately increase the current dismal level of English-speaking Quebecers working for the provincial civil service. Assurances that the Secretariat, which is so essential to our community, survives and is fully enshrined in law is among the priorities of our Network and Community as we head into a provincial election this fall. QCGN and its members have begun working on a comprehensive provincial election strategy discussing what pledges we want to see from all of our political parties. Stay tuned!

Ottawa Boosts Investments in Quebec

Over the past two years, the QCGN led a community effort that saw record numbers of English-speaking Quebecers participate in the federal government’s consultation to build a new federal official languages strategy. We followed up on that work with an aggressive and effective government affairs strategy that significantly raised our profile. This, and the help of a supportive Minister of Canadian Heritage, led to significant gains for English-speaking Quebec in the Government of Canada’s Action Plan for Official Languages – 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future. The plan aims to boost funding to official language minority organizations by $57.37 million and to create a fund of $5.3 million for Quebec’s English-speaking communities. The QCGN will work strategically and cooperatively with our members and stakeholders to ensure our community obtains the maximum benefit from these new funds. This will be the work of the Priority Setting Steering Committee (PSSC) of the QCGN Board, which is currently being renewed under the leadership of QCGN Vice-President Gerald Cutting of Townshippers’ Association. We will keep you posted on the committee and the consultation process in the coming weeks. Together, with support from the PSSC, the QCGN will ensure English-speaking minority communities in Quebec get the maximum benefit from the federal Action Plan – most especially the $5 million that has been earmarked for English-speaking Quebec.

Official Language Partners

Also on hand for our annual meeting were official language allies Raymond Théberge, Canada’s new Commissioner of Official Languages, and Jean Johnson, President of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadiennes (FCFA). We are pleased to note that our relationship with official language partners is blossoming as we work together on a variety of files including the modernization of the Official Languages Act, which turns 50 next year. Recently, the QCGN appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages to present our community’s views on modernizing the Act. (Read our press release and our brief.)  We will continue to work with the Commissioner, whose office is consulting with communities to recommend improvements to the Act, to ensure English-speaking Quebec’s voice and our unique challenges are fully considered as the federal government moves to modernize the Official Languages Act. During his lunchtime speech, we were pleased to hear Commissioner Théberge pledge to defend Canada’s official language minority communities with equal fervor. A week earlier, the Commissioner released his 2017-2018 Annual Report. The QCGN applauded the Commissioner’s priorities work to ensure that official languages and linguistic duality continue to be a fundamentally Canadian value and a national priority. Read our press release.

What is a Positive Measure?

The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL), which intervened in the case, announced Thursday it will be appealing the decision. See OCOL’s press release. On May 23, the Federal Court issued a judgement that should serve as a call to action for the federal government to clarify the meaning of “positive measures” that must be taken by federal institutions under Part VII of the Official Languages Act (on the Promotion of English and French), to enhance the vitality of Official Language Minority Communities (OLMC). The Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique (FFCB) claimed the language rights of the French-speaking community are not being respected by British Columbia’s employment program which is funded by the federal government. In 2008, the Conservative government transferred responsibility for providing employment assistance services and programs to the provinces, while continuing to contribute financially. The result of the transfer was the loss of French services in five employment assistance centres in Kelowna, Penticton, Prince George and Vancouver. The court ruled that since the federal government has not adopted regulations that clarify what constitutes a “positive measure,” the government remains under a general obligation to take action. This is important for Official Language Minority Communities since it sets a low bar for federal institutions. As long as a federal institution takes an action that provides some form of benefit, it can be considered to have taken a “positive measure.” There is no minimum threshold. The court sympathized with the fact that this decision will have the effect of significantly limiting the benefits and protections communities receive under this part of the Official Languages Act. The court concludes its judgement by saying that it is not its place to create rules that clarify what “positive measures” are. Instead it is up to the executive branch of the federal government to provide regulations that make this clear. This is certainly an argument for modernizing the Official Languages Act. For a more detailed breakdown of the decision, click here.

QCGN Successes Showcased

During the annual meeting last week, the incredible work being done by some of our committees and projects was highlighted. Eric Maldoff, chair of the Health and Social Services Committee reported the QCGN and the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN) were mandated by the Health Minister to call for and recommend candidates from our community for appointment to the new Provincial committee on the dispensing of health and social services in the English language. Better known as the Provincial Access Committee, it has the vital role of assisting in the approval, oversight and evaluation of how our health and social services are delivered to English-speaking Quebecers in their own language. Maldoff noted this represents an extraordinary occasion for community members to make a real and lasting difference to improve access to crucial services for our English-speaking communities and build a substantially more solid foundation for our long-term vitality across Quebec. Read our recent press release.

Funded by Justice Canada, QCGN’s Access to Justice in English in Quebec project is developing deeper knowledge of how Quebec’s justice system works. The project is collaborating with multiple experts, community, and justice system stakeholders to develop initiatives that will make a difference for English-speaking Quebecers. Steering committee member Matt Aranson reported the project is building on the success of our April 2018 “No Justice Without Access” Community Forum where participants set starting points to improve access to justice in English in three targeted areas: Seniors and the elderly; Youth in need of protection or interacting with the criminal justice system, and; People seeking justice from administrative entities.

Funded by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program – Children and Families Component, and managed by the QCGN, the Community Innovation Fund has invested more than $1 million over three years in 10 innovative projects that address the needs and priorities of vulnerable English-speaking youth, seniors and newcomers. The ten projects are building partnerships to increase funds that are injected into our communities. Among them are Dare Every Soul to Achieve (DESTA) and Phelps Helps, who are profiled later in this newsletter.

Gap Narrows Between Two Solitudes

During our jam-packed event, Association for Canadian Studies executive vice-president Jack Jedwab was on hand to discuss the results of a Léger Marketing poll commissioned by ACS and the QCGN entitled Bonjour Hi: What French and English Quebecers think about each other and about key issues. The survey on the mutual perceptions of English- and French-speaking Quebec shows there are more and more contacts between the two linguistic groups — nearly 70 per cent of respondents rated the relations between the two language groups as “positive” or “very positive.” However, there are still many myths and areas of misunderstanding on key issues, such as the protection of language and respect for the rights of the minority. Read different takes on the poll results in The Gazette, in Le Devoir and on CTV Montreal. You can also view Jedwab’s interview with CTV’s Tarah Schwartz.

2017-2018 Annual Report

All of our annual meeting presentations, as well as the 2017-2018 Annual Report of the QCGN, are available on the QCGN website. Read our post-AGM press release. See more photos in the library of the QCGN website.

History Curriculum Reform

Quebec’s English-speaking community continues to press for a more inclusive history curriculum in the wake of a recent memo from the Ministry of Education announcing that the secondary three History of Quebec and Canada textbooks distributed to schools in the fall of 2016 were revised and will be reissued in the fall. Quebec’s controversial two-year history course, first introduced in 2016, raised the ire of Quebec’s English-speaking community, Indigenous leaders, and other minority communities for its nationalistic tone and content that virtually ignores and devalues the role of non-francophones in Quebec history. Despite weighty contributions since the 1700s, the English-speaking community of Quebec is barely mentioned. The Committee for the Enhancement of the Curriculum of History of Quebec (ComECH-Quebec), an ad hoc committee created by the English Parents’ Committee Association (EPCA), the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN), the Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations (QFHSA), the Quebec Association of Geography Teachers (QAGT), explains the goal is to include more content on the country’s Indigenous peoples. ComECH-Quebec chair Robert Green noted that while members were pleased to see the Ministry address the concerns of the Indigenous community, they had hoped that the entire curriculum program would be revised and that more calls for action from the Truth and Reconciliation Report, such as an assistant deputy minister dedicated to Indigenous content in education, would be met. And while there will be more content dedicated to First Nations people, ComECH also said it would like to see the positive contributions of minority communities to Quebec society better reflected in the curriculum. Read the article by the Canadian Press as well as coverage by CBC Montreal and Global Montreal.

QCGN Mourns Loss of Kevin Tierney and Earl de la Perralle

 The QCGN family was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Kevin Tierney and Earl De La Perralle, two community stalwarts and laureates of QCGN’s Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Community Distinguished Community Service Award. De La Perralle, who passed away this week, was honoured by the QCGN for his lifelong dedication to Sun Youth and its community sports programs. De La Perralle worked quietly behind the scenes, promoting amateur sports as a means of keeping kids out of trouble and off the streets. Tierney, a filmmaker who passed away in May, was recognized for his unique way of building bridges between English- and French-speaking Quebecers. Bon Cop Bad Cop, which he co-wrote and produced, is perhaps the Canadian film that most successfully transcended the language divide. Tierney also made volunteering an integral part of his life, offering his time and wisdom to the film community and acting as a mentor for emerging filmmakers. Read QCGN’s Community Award features on Tierney as well as De La Perralle and his co-winner Sid Stevens and view their video tributes here  (Global Montreal) and here (CTV Montreal). Read more about Tierney’s remarkable life and career in The Montreal Gazette, on CBC Montreal and CTV Montreal. Read more about De La Perralle and his contribution in The Montreal Gazette and on the websites of CBC Montreal and on CTV Montreal.

Happy Summer Vacation

The QCGN offices will be closed next Monday, June 25 for the St-Jean Baptiste holidayand on Monday, July 2 for Canada Day. Throughout the summer, we will be keeping members and stakeholders updated on a variety of issues, including the Priority Setting Steering Committee consultation on community priorities for spending under the Action Plan as well as our strategy to prepare for the provincial election campaign that begins officially in August. Wishing you a safe and relaxing summer.

QCGN’s 2018-2019 BOARD OF DIRECTORS

During the annual general meeting, members bid a fond farewell to President James Shea, who stepped down after six years, two of them at the helm, as well as longtime board members Secretary Walter Duszara and Director Juan-Carlos Quintana. Geoffrey Chambers, who was nominated by Seniors Action Quebec, was acclaimed along with new vice-president Gerald Cutting, nominated by Townshippers’ Association; and Secretary Eva Ludvig, who was nominated by the Quebec Association of Independent Schools(QAIS). Also acclaimed were new board members Chad Bean from the Eastern Townships, who was nominated by Phelps Helps; Maureen Kiely from Montreal, who was nominated by Contactivity Centre; Sharleen Sullivan, Executive Director of Neighbours Regional Association of Rouyn-Noranda, who was nominated by the Council of Anglophone Magdalen Islanders (CAMI); as well as Christopher Neal from Montreal who was nominated by the Association of English-language Publishers of Quebec (AELAQ). Not up for re-election and returning to the board are Treasurer Joe Rabinovitch and Directors Mary-Ellen Beaulieu, Stella Briand-Kennedy, Dr. Clarence Bayne, Linton Garner, Eric Maldoff, and Elise Moser.

COMMUNITY INNOVATION FUND

By Irwin Block

For English-speaking Quebecers building careers or going to school, getting advice, training or tutoring services close to where they live or work can be invaluable. A helping hand at the right time and in the right place can make all the difference when young entrepreneurs cope with challenges or students strive to upgrade their academic or business skills.

Two groups offering such services are DESTA Black Youth Network and Phelps Helps. DESTA works with mostly English-speaking Blacks in and around Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighbourhood. In Stanstead, 68 kilometers southwest of Sherbrooke, Phelp Helps provides tutoring to improve French language proficiency and offers training and advice.

They are among 10 groups in Quebec sharing in a $1 million Community Innovation Fund, provided by the federal government’s Social Partnership Development Program, and managed by the Quebec Community Groups Network. Projects were selected for being both innovative and sustainable.

Dare Every Soul to Achieve

DESTA’s acronym stands for Dare Every Soul to Achieve and through their CIF grant, DESTA has been able to implement both an entrepreneurship and an employability program.

A partnership was developed with the John Molson School of Business’s community service initiative, whereby MBA students facilitate a 12-week intensive entrepreneurship program on how to start a business. A first cohort completed the program and a second is underway.  The group meets two to three times a week for three hours in the evening.

“A big part of what they do is to peel away the layers of obstacles faced by members of the community,” said program manager Bonnie Zehavi. “We help people identify the challenges in their lives, or obstacles they face, and help them mitigate all of those things, from finding a daycare so they may attend evening classes to helping them get their taxes up to date.”

In addition to the entrepreneurship program, DESTA offers workshops for business owners covering topics such as marketing, social media, finance and accounting.

For those who are seeking employment and encountering challenges, DESTA developed an individualized training program, leveraging the workshops created for the entrepreneurship stream so that more members of the community could participate.
All interventions are tailored to the specific needs of the client, explained Zehavi. “We don’t determine the goals or measure of success for the individual – they tell us what they would like to do.”

On employability, DESTA offers skill-building programs that are flexible and tailored to the individual. It offers help in upgrading French-language skills, improving literacy, coping with socialization challenges, writing CVs and cover letters. It also helps those with criminal records seeking employment.

Imaan Browne, 33, who has operated the Pureluckx clothing brand for six years, came to DESTA to develop a plan to grow his business. He needed advice on improving his income and cash-flow statements, and whether to buy or lease manufacturing equipment and factory space. Completing the John Molson course, and with help from lawyers and accountants, Browne says he has a firmer grip on his business and how it can grow.

“You think you know a business until you’re actually running one. Then you realize how much you don’t know,” said Lance Clarke, 33, who is working on a business plan with help from one of the MBA students. He got advice from a lawyer who was volunteering there about his partnership agreement and relationship with drivers on contract. “The help we got and contacts we made has been priceless.”

Exciting plans are underway to create a ‘work hub’ on the DESTA premises. As many new small business owners do not have the means to rent office space and hire necessary staff, DESTA will provide them with printing facilities, office and conference room space, and marketing support.
“Our goal is to remove obstacles faced by our community members and to provide the tools necessary for them to succeed, for their success is our community’s success,” noted Zehavi.

‘The Little Tutoring Program That Could’

Phelps Helps also has the goal of providing the youth of its community with the tools needed to succeed.

Founded in 2012 by Catherine Van der Lindenand Jeanie Markwick to combat the unacceptably high drop-out rates in the Stanstead area of Quebec, Phelps Helps is a true grassroots organization that gets its name from its original location on Phelps Street where it opened its doors in 2012 to offer tutoring to local youth.

“There was a major problem with dropouts in the region we cover. About 38 per cent of students were leaving school without obtaining a high school diploma,” said executive director Katie Lowry.

Once dubbed ‘The Little Tutoring Program That Could,’ Phelps has grown organically from a single high school tutoring program to seven programs that includes assistance for Grades 3 and up, in both English and French. After the 2016-17 school year, 100 per cent of Phelps participants stayed in high school. One hundred per cent also stated that participating in Phelps ‘gives them a sense of community.’

“There is always someone here to answer my questions. I like that!” said one 15-year-old participant.

Through its activities Phelps Helps discovered two unmet needs: French language skills to graduate high school as well as post-secondary support. The funds from the Community Innovation Fund are being put to work in these areas.

An after-school program offering French tutoring in an immersive French-language milieu has attracted more than 50 students who are coached by 10 tutors on a regular basis. While the program was set up for less than half that number of students, Phelps Helps has been able to meet the extraordinary demand.

“The key to the success of the program has been that the students set their own goals, and we are there to help them achieve them,” said Lowry.
Through the years that Phelps Helps has been helping Stanstead area youth to graduate from high school they have found that many graduates are finding it difficult to take the next step.  The youths have little to no job experience and are unaware of job opportunities in their region. Those continuing their education are overwhelmed by the options and application processes.

Many of their parents did not complete high school and therefore have no experience with student bursaries or post-secondary applications. Enter a new graduate support program.  Through the use of round table and employment panels, along with one-on-one support and a 5 à 7 with 15 local business owners, graduates are becoming better equipped to meet their future. To date, more than 55 students have participated in various aspects of the program.

“The CIF grant has allowed us to develop programs that are making a difference in the lives of the youth of our community,” said Lowry. “We are in a small rural town, but we now have over 18 partners who collaborate with us as we try to meet employer’s needs so our graduates can work locally, thus preserving the vitality of this corner of Quebec.”

This is the second in a series of articles about projects that were funded under the Community Innovation Fund. For further information about the CIF please contact Christine Boyle at 514-868-9044, ext. 257.

COMMUNITY INNOVATION FUND PARTNERS WITH McGILL’S THINKR

The Community Innovation Fund (CIF), through its grants to community organizations, is creating social initiatives aimed at improving employability or securing basic socioeconomic security for vulnerable youth, seniors/caregivers and newcomers in Quebec’s English-language communities.

The CIF has partnered with Thinkr, a consulting initiative of second year McGill University MBA students which offers offer 100 per cent free business consulting services to organizations that need help, but cannot afford it.  Focusing mainly on not-for-profit organizations, they also consider projects with start-ups and social enterprises.

Recently Thinkr teamed up with the Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders(CAMI), a CIF recipient.  CAMI currently operates Grandma’s Bakery, and has recently started manufacturing and selling pickled vegetables, fruit jams and jellies as well as lobster paste.  Experiencing a season that surpassed expectations, CAMI decided to create an independent social enterprise to run the business.  Thinkr stepped in during this winter and developed a comprehensive business plan to get them started.

“Thinkr has given us a lot to think about,” said Helena Burke, executive director of CAMI, who is thrilled at the result. “The team that worked with us over the last few months really got to know us and our goals and has provided us with invaluable information to move forward with our exciting project.”

For more information on Thinkr, please visit their website.

LITERACY QUEBEC MAKING QUEBEC A MORE INCLUSIVE SOCIETY

Submitted by Gabrielle Thomas
Literacy Quebec

Driven by volunteers and community action, Literacy Quebecaims to provide universal access to literacy services across the province and empower individuals with a sense of belonging, ownership and trust in their communities.

“We believe that literacy is a basic human right and a lifelong process,” says Margo Legault, executive director of Literacy Quebec. “Ultimately, a society that invests in literacy is more socially inclusive, safer and creates more vibrant communities for everyone.”

Literacy Quebec is a network that connects and represents community-based literacy organizations to empower people, impact lives and build a stronger society.

Literacy is multi-faceted and can affect all aspects of a person’s life from applying for a new job, to reading to their children, to writing an email.  Thus, Literacy Quebec treats literacy assistance with a holistic approach engaging with family, community, and workplace literacy while maintaining focus on the learner’s needs.

Literacy Quebec currently represents 13 community-based literacy organizations across the province that serve English-speaking families and individuals. As societal needs are evolving, it is adapting our network accordingly.

“Today, we help learners navigate the digitization of everything, the bureaucratization of daily processes, more competitive job markets, and ever-accelerating technological changes,” said Legault. “Our members work closely with learners to facilitate these transitions.”

All in all, people with low literacy skills have faced many hurdles and challenges in their lives. Low literacy skills could prevent one from performing fundamental tasks such as paying a bill, homework help, or filling out a form for a vital flu shot.

Literacy Quebec strives to provide learners with a safety net to overcome these challenges. Each learner is matched with a volunteer tutor who is recruited and trained by one of our member organizations. Together, the learner and their tutor work one-on-one to foster a comfortable, non-judgemental environment where the learner feels free to pursue their learning goals.

Most often, people characterize finding the literacy centre as “a sigh of relief” — a place where they feel supported and a place that helps them open up to the world around them. Maintaining this feeling is one of Literacy Quebec’s top priorities.

For more on Literacy Quebec, visit their website.

 

CELEBRATING HOME AND SCHOOL VOLUNTEERS

Submitted by The Quebec Federation of
Home and School Associations

The Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations (QFHSA) held its 74th annual general meeting at the Novotel Hotel in St Laurent on April 28.

Delegates were welcomed by outgoing president Brian Rock, and then turned their attention to keynote speaker William Floch who offered an update on the recent activities of the Secretariat Responsible for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers.

Floch reported that the Secretariat heard from more than 65 community groups and stakeholders in the English communities of Quebec during a series of consultation townhalls and roundtable discussions. Areas of concern demonstrated by the community included youth retention in the regions and Montreal, access to government employment services and programs, and access to health and social services, better access to French Second Language training and better support for English-speaking Quebecers living in poverty. The Federation offered its assistance in bringing the concerns of the Home and School membership across the province to the Secretariat’s attention.

The following resolutions were adopted by the QFHSA membership at the afternoon business session: Healthy Sleep and School Start Times, Wider Access to English Education and significant changes to the Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations Constitution and By-laws.

New directors were elected to the board along with new 2018-2020 president Linton Garner who had served as executive vice-president from 2016-2018. Garner, who is the executive director of the Regional Association of West Quebecers and a director on the board of the Quebec Community Groups Network, was ready to step into Rock’s shoes. His first duties as president were to present three of the major QFHSA awards at the banquet later that evening.

Receiving the 2018 Gordon Paterson Award was Steve Dubinsky, music teacher at Westwood High school.  The Pat Lewis Environmental Award was presented to the wonderful Willingdon Elementary School community and the Pat Lewis Humanitarian Award was presented to Rhiannon Sparkes, an educator at Dorset Elementary school.

Rickhey Margolese, long time volunteer with Home and School at the local, provincial and national level, received the 2018 Canadian Home and School Federation’s Lifetime Membership Award.

The Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations is an independent, incorporated, not for profit volunteer organization dedicated to enhancing the education and general well-being of children and youth. The QFHSA promotes the involvement of parents, students, educators and the community at large in the advancement of learning and acts as a voice for parents.

In 2019, Home and School will be celebrating the support of parental involvement in education in Quebec for 100 years and the federation will be celebrating 75 years of activity.

For more information on the Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations, visit their website at www.qfhsa.org.

QCGN SEEKS NOMINATIONS FOR 2018 COMMUNITY AWARDS

The Quebec Community Groups Network is welcoming nominations for its Community Awards that were established to honour individuals who contribute to strengthening the English-speaking community and to building bridges between Quebecers of different backgrounds.

Goldbloom Award
The July 31 deadline for the The Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Community Service Award is fast approaching. Candidates for the award must have demonstrated leadership and commitment as a volunteer or as a professional in their chosen field of endeavour. Their contributions can be in any and all regions of Quebec, and in any field from business to academia; from youth to seniors; from health and social services to arts and culture; and any other area such as heritage, the environment, and sports. The guiding principle is that these individuals have provided strong and effective leadership and succeeded in improving the quality life of English-speaking Quebecers and the broader society.  Click here for details on how to nominate someone.

Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award
In 2015, the QCGN joined with the newly created Fondation Notre Home Foundation and CBC Quebec to create a new award to recognize and celebrate young English-speaking Quebecers engaged in initiatives that create positive change in our communities. The main objective of our Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award is to celebrate the leadership and innovative thinking of engaged English-speaking Quebecers aged 30 and under.  The deadline for nominations is August 31, 2018. Click here for details on how to nominate someone.

Recipients of QCGN’s Community Leadership Awards will be invited to receive their awards at a community recognition ceremony on Nov. 1. Full details to come, but please save the date.

WELLNESS CENTRE PARTNERS DISCUSS NEEDS OF QUEBEC CITY’S ENGLISH-SPEAKING COMMUNITY

By Diane Kameen
Jeffery Hale Community Partners 

On June 1, key partners of Quebec City’s Wellness Centre got together to discuss shared objectives and a common vision as to how to best meet the health and social services needs of the local English-speaking community.

In attendance were personnel from Jeffery Hale Community Partners, from Jeffery Hale – Saint Brigid’s (especially its community services sector) and the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN), as well as from Voice of English-speaking Québec.

In addition, Kathleen Weil, the minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, and Gregory Kelley, a political advisor with the recently established provincial secretariat for relations with the English-speaking community, dropped by to talk to the group about their daily realities and concerns about the future.

“It’s so important for all of us to spend this kind of quality time together, so that we can work more effectively together and plan for the future,” said Annabelle Cloutier, director of the Wellness Centre. “Having Ms. Weil join us was an added bonus.”

In the afternoon, staff had the chance to take part in a fun rally to discover more about the English-speaking community they serve, which, of course, included a couple of questions highlighting our beloved Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph.

Reprinted with permission from The Quebec Chronicle Telegraph.

Thank you for reading our regular newsletter. For up-to-date news about the Quebec Community Groups Network you can visit our website at www.qcgn.ca or follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Network News April 2018

ACTION PLAN INVESTS $499.2 MILLION OVER FIVE YEARS IN OFFICIAL LANGUAGE COMMUNITIES

 

On hand for the meeting in the Prime Minister’s office on Parliament Hill were Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly; Justin Johnston, Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française (FJCF) president; QCGN President James Shea; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; Jean Johnson, la Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA) president; and the vice-chair of QCGN’s Access to Justice in English committee, Jonathan Nuss. They are pictured above with Josée Vaillancourt, Director General of the FJCF, Alain Dupuis, Director General of the FCFA; QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge and QCGN Vice-President Geoffrey Chambers.

 

It has been a busy spring for the QCGN with good news aplenty at both the Federal and Provincial level.

I was honoured to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly as well as our Francophone counterparts on March 28 as the government prepared to launch the Action Plan for Official Languages 2018-2023:  Investing in Our Future. A full contingent of QCGN members and staff were on hand in the nation’s capital for the launch of the new federal strategy that plans to invest $499.2 million over the next five years to support Canada’s official language minority communities and to promote bilingualism. Before the press launch members of both official languages communities participated in a technical briefing where we learned the main pillars of the plan from Canadian Heritage officials. The Action Plan is based on three pillars: Strengthening our Communities; Strengthening Access to Service; and Promoting a Bilingual Canada. The launch was held at Mauril Bélanger Primary School in Vanier – a perfect setting since the school was named in honour of the former MP renowned for being a true champion of Official Language communities. Bélanger passed away in August 2016, a week after the QCGN decided to recognize him with a special Community Leadership Award. Read the tribute we prepared for the ceremony. I think it is safe to day that Bélanger, who spent decades advocating for the recognition and support of official language minority communities, would have been pleased with the Action Plan. So were we. Read our press release. See coverage of the Action Plan in the Montreal Gazette and the interview with QCGN Vice-President Geoffrey Chambers on CTV about the Action Plan and the provincial budget.

 

Quebec Budget Delivers Good News to English-speaking Quebecers

The QCGN heartily welcomed new measures for English-speaking Quebecers that were included in the provincial budget on March 27. QCGN had high expectations for the Quebec’s 2018-2019 budget, following our community’s first-ever pre-budget consultation with the Minister of Finance in February. Finance Minister Carlos Leitao delivered $24.5 million over six years for the activities of the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers. The funding will be used to support non-profit organizations and institutions in areas of activity related to the Secretariat’s mission; to disseminate data that supports the vitality of English-speaking communities; and to help keep young English-speaking Quebecers in the province through employment. We are encouraged by the budget’s commitment for community support in health and social services and we are hopeful some of the funding for community organizations will go to meet pressing needs in English-speaking Quebec. The budget also includes an additional $46 million to support community organizations operating outside the health and social services sector that our community will be eligible to apply for. Read our press release. Also see coverage in the Montreal Gazette.

Community and Gazette Celebrate Newfound Attention

A week of good news did not go unnoticed by many, including the Montreal Gazette which published an editorial celebrating the fact English-speaking Quebecers are, at last, on the radar of both the federal and provincial governments and that both took welcome steps to provide us with much-needed support. The Gazette noted that persuading fellow Quebecers that our community has rights and vulnerabilities has been an ongoing challenge. Like our community’s newspaper of record, the QCGN welcomed the provincial budget and federal Action Plan on Official Languages that provide genuine opportunities for greater assistance — but the work to ensure the money is delivered and that it looks after the real needs and priorities of our community of communities is just beginning. Over the coming months and years, we must ensure that the provincial secretariat, which received badly needed additional funding in Quebec’s 2018-2019 budget, does its job ensuring our community’s priorities, needs and interests are represented to government ministries and agencies. We will also have to ensure the Secretariat and the new funding is maintained following the fall election. Meanwhile on the federal front, the QCGN will be making representations to the federal government, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and other departments funded under the new action plan, to ensure they provide fair consideration and funding to English-speaking Quebec as it divvies up the program funding.

Community Gains Stronger Voice on Access to Health Care 

The QCGN was pleased that a long awaited regulation governing the creation of the Provincial Advisory Committee on the dispensing of health and social services in the English language was published on April 11 in La Gazette officielle du Québec. The regulation ensures that members of the new provincial access committee will be more representative of Quebec’s English-speaking community. It also hands responsibility to the QCGN and the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN) for recruiting and proposing committee members to the Minister of Health. For almost three years, the QCGN and the CHSSN have worked diligently with the minister and the ministry to draw up a new regulation that ensures we have a real say in the delivery, accessibility and quality of health and social services to English-speaking Quebecers. We are grateful to Eric Maldoff, the chair of QCGN’s Health and Social Services Committee, for leading this charge. As Eric stated, our right to health and social services in our language depends on the creation of proper access plans that spell out the services we can access and the quality of those access plans depends on committee members equipped with in-depth knowledge of our community combined with a detailed understanding of the health and social services network. This revamped regulation ensures our community will have meaningful involvement in the creation of provincial and regional access committees, as well as in the preparation of access plans for the provision of services in English. The new rules also ensure new rights to monitor the plans and consult the community on changes to the health and social service network that impact Quebec’s English-speaking community. A committee is being struck to begin recruiting candidates for the provincial advisory committee which needs to be in place by summer. It is now up to our Network and community to find the necessary volunteers to fill the hundreds of volunteer positions that will open in the coming months. Stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, read our press release and see coverage in The Montreal Gazette, on Global Montreal on CTV Montreal and on CJAD. Also view Eric Maldoff’s live interview with CTV Montreal’s Paul Karwatsky.

Secretariat invests $950,000 in community ventures

On Monday, April 23, the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers granted $950,000 of the aforementioned $25 million on five projects that will support the vitality of Quebec’s English-speaking communities. The funds will flow through Concordia University  and the Quebec English-speaking Communities Research Network (QUESCREN), a network of researchers, stakeholders, educational and other institutions housed at Concordia’s School of Community and Public Affairs. Some $350,000 will remain at QUESCREN to support research related to English-speaking communities and support outreach activities. These include the biennial forum of QUESCREN’s Inter-Level Educational Table titled “Minority Community Vitality through Education”, scheduled for the fall. The remaining $600,000 will be distributed to community partners including the Quebec Community Groups Network, which will receive $230,000 to develop and maintain expertise in public policy analysis and research in areas of provincial jurisdiction. As part of these activities, the QCGN will host dialogues between key government and community leaders in priority areas including employment and skills development, regional economic development and institutional vitality. Working with the Secretariat and the community, QCGN will produce a comprehensive demographic and socio-economic portrait of English-speaking Quebec, as well as a gaps analysis to map community stakeholders as well as government and civil society partners with a view to understanding critical areas that require provincial government support. Funds are also being provided to two members of the QCGN family: the English-Language Arts Network (ELAN) for five pilot projects to help create increased and sustainable connections between communities and artists and the Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders (CAMI) to develop a social economy organization that will lead to job creation, youth retention and community vitality for the English-speaking community of the Magdalen Islands. The Eastern Townships Resource Centre (ETRC) will also receive $60,000 to help preserve and promote the rich and unique history of the Eastern Townships. Kathleen Weil, the minister responsible for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers, made the announcement Monday at Concordia University. She also foreshadowed more announcements in the coming months, including a plan to keep English-speaking youth in Quebec. .  For more details, read the Secretariat’s communiqué and QCGN’s press release. See coverage on CTV Montreal, on Global Montreal, on CJAD in The Montreal Gazette and on Concordia’s website. Also view a live interview between QCGN’s Vice President Geoffrey Chambers and CTV Montreal’s Paul Karwatsky.

QCGN SEEKING A FEW GOOD MEN AND WOMEN FOR BOARD OF DIRECTORS 

Are you someone, or do you know someone, who is devoted to the vitality of the English-speaking community?

Do you or do they support the vision and mission of the Quebec Community Groups Network and are you willing to help us achieve our goals?

The QCGN is seeking talented and engaged community leaders willing to stand for election for its board of directors. There will be six vacancies in 2018 including the positions of president, vice-president and secretary. Current President James Shea and Secretary Walter Duszara, as well as Director Juan-Carlos Quintanna are nearing the end of their term limits on the board of directors. Some directors will be running to return to the board.

Nominations for the board of directors are overseen by the nominating committee, whose members were appointed by the QCGN membership during the annual general meeting in June 2017.

Board members are required to participate in regular meetings – usually six per year, two of which are face-to-face – and serve on one or more committees in their areas of interest and expertise.

“Our goal is to assemble a board that is both engaged and engaging,” commented Carole Mackaay, chair of the nominating committee. “Not only do QCGN directors provide oversight on the management of the corporation’s affairs, they also act as ambassadors for the QCGN and Quebec’s English-speaking community.”

The nominating committee must recommend a board that is representative of the Network and balanced in terms of gender and age. It seeks to include regional and sectoral representation (for example, health and social services; education; economic development; justice; arts, culture and heritage). QCGN board members are elected to serve two-year terms and may be re-elected for a maximum of three consecutive terms (six years).

Additionally, board members are expected to remain up to date on public policy issues affecting Quebec’s English-speaking community; remain in contact with member organizations; attend annual general meetings (usually held the second weekend in June); and participate in major QCGN functions including the Goldbloom Awards (held in October).

The deadline for nominations is 5 p.m. on May 7, 2018. Nominations will not be accepted after this time and date. All QCGN member organizations, regardless of category, are invited to nominate qualified individuals to the board of directors. To read the call for nominations, click here.

The nominating committee will review all nominations and will provide QCGN members with a report and a slate of recommended candidates for the six vacancies.

Should you have any questions please contact QCGN’s Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge at 514-868-9044 ext. 225 or sylvia.martin-laforge@qcgn.ca

COMMUNITY INNOVATION FUND PROJECTS HELP NEWCOMERS FIND JOBS

By Irwin Block

 

Helping newcomers to Quebec find work enables them to build productive lives. Two community organizations, one in Park Extension and the other in downtown Montreal, are doing just that.

The organizations are among 10 in Quebec considered to have innovative and sustainable projects. They are sharing in a $1 million Community Innovation Fund, provided by the federal government’s Social Partnership Development Program that is managed by the Quebec Community Groups Network.

 

 

 

 

 

PEYO program trains newcomers to enter food industry quickly 

Jo-An Audrey Jette, Executive Director of Park Extension Youth Organization (PEYO), said it was founded 50 years ago to “get kids off the street, doing something productive.”

PEYO has since grown into a multi-faceted organization that works to improve the quality of life of residents of the Parc-Extension district, with particular emphasis on youth and families. It offers a variety of activities such as a community kitchen, meals on- wheels, a job entry program, computer workshops, sports and recreation, a catering service, street work and collaboration with École Barthélémy-Vimont.

“Our project, called I AM COMPETENT, is for newcomers who want to enter the marketplace fast,” said Jette at the PEYO offices in the basement of the Centre William-Hingston on Saint Roch, in Park Extension.

The I AM: Competent project is aimed at improving employability and socioeconomic security for vulnerable youth and newcomers. It focusses on participants acquiring new skills, with internships via a professional environment in a kitchen within a French immersion/English context.

Over a 10-week period, the project provides adults with training by certified experienced chefs. They also complete 16 hours of online training on food hygiene and safety designed by Quebec’s Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie, upon which they are tested to receive certification. The courses are taught using French terminology so that students can better integrate the work force.

“This puts you ahead of everyone else who is looking for jobs in kitchens,” said Jette.

She said she is proud that graduates of the PEYO program enter the job market quickly. Students learn employability skills such as how to prepare for and conduct interviews, how to dress, and punctuality. “Some have recently immigrated to Canada and may not be used to our codes,” she noted.

Late last month, nine students of the original 12 who started the program took part in a graduation ceremony and prepared the food themselves – 16 different dishes.

“It works!” Jette said. The graduates go on to five-week internships in restaurants and, if they do well, are virtually guaranteed jobs. “I don’t have enough participants for all the restaurants that are looking for interns.”

Sabeen Irfan, 35, originally from Karachi, Pakistan, came in July seeking refugee status with her husband and five children. They had experience in restaurants and catering, and she said she appreciated the training.

“The program is awesome. We are learning how to cook and behave in a team, how to follow the rules, and learning French terms we need in the kitchen.”

 

YES-Montreal helping English-speaking immigrants integrate into Quebec 

Youth Employment Services Montreal (YES Montreal), was founded in 1995 to counter the brain drain of young English-speaking youth moving elsewhere. Today it also serves immigrants who have been here for up to five years. Many have English as their main Canadian language and need support to find work.

The goal of CIF-funded project aims to retain English-speaking newcomers by helping them to integrate into the Quebec economy. It includes targeted employment services such as workshops, mentorship, one-on-one support, peer-to-peer support, and networking events. The project also aims to strengthen the social networks of new arrivals seeking stable and meaningful employment, simultaneously building new partnerships with local businesses and community organizations serving newcomers.

“The focus is to help new arrivals integrate into Quebec, help them find jobs, start small businesses, or whatever it may take to help them make a living in Quebec,” said Iris Unger, Executive Ddirector of YES.

The program, which was developed and publicized in September, includes coaching and workshops on work-related subjects such as preparing a resumé, networking for newcomers, using LinkedIn, and preparing for job interviews.

“We try to create an environment where people are meeting other people, peers, employers, mentors so they have a better understanding of the lay of the land in Quebec and how to use that more effectively,” said Annalise Iten, Job Search Program Director.

One success story is a woman in her 50s who worked for multinational companies as a human resources consultant in China and believed she would be unable to work in that field here.

“We turned that thinking around and she ended obtaining a part-time job in her field,” Iten said. “We helped change her mind-frame, showing that what she thought was impossible was possible — with the right support. She may not have had perfect language skills, but she had the skill sets that companies need.”

Milad Javadi, originally from Iran, arrived in Montreal in March 2016 sponsored by his wife, an aerospace engineer who is completing her PhD in mechanical engineering at Concordia University. He studied French for five semesters in the Quebec government’s language and integration program but needed a boost to find work.

Referred to YES Montreal by a friend, Javadi came to a welcome session in January and was happy to accept help to find a job.

“I met with my counsellor. He went through my background and experience, helped me improve my resumé, use LinkedIn, and identify my goals. I got an interview, went to see him again and he helped me prepare for it,” he said.

Javadi was hired by a logistics and customs brokerage firm which has offices in Montreal. He started work on April 2.

This is the first in a series of articles about projects that were funded under the Community Innovation Fund. For further information about the CIF please contact Christine Boyle at 514-868-9044, ext. 257.

 

COMMUNITY FORUM ON ACCESS TO JUSTICE IN ENGLISH

Entitled No Justice Without Access: Working Together to Ensure Access to Justice in English, the Quebec Community Groups Network engaged a broad cross-section of the English-speaking community, legal experts, and justice system stakeholders to kickstart a conversation between the community and components of our justice system to break down barriers to services for English-speaking Quebecers.

Funded by Justice Canada, QCGN’s Access to Justice in English in Quebec project aims to develop deeper knowledge of how Quebec’s justice system works in targeted areas, to collaborate with multiple community and justice system stakeholders; and to develop plans of action that will make a difference for English-speaking Quebecers.

The Community Forum aimed to initiate dialogue on project priorities and suggest specific collaborative efforts between the community and the justice system that could improve access to justice in English in Quebec. With dozens of participants from the community, as well as lawyers and officials from Justice Canada and Justice Quebec, the forum moved the project forward and set a solid foundation upon which to build on.

Our initiative takes a people-centered approach, explained lawyer Bruce McNiven, Counsel to the DS Law Group in Montreal and Chair of the QCGN’s Access to Justice in English Steering Committee.

“This means we focus our work on serving people first and always. Our work is about improving access to justice in English by conceiving of the justice system from the outside in, as well as the inside out,” McNiven said. “It’s very much about creating a justice system that treats English speakers not just as clients and consumers of public services, but also as bearers of rights and key stakeholders actively involved in shaping a justice system that serves them and is responsive to them.”

“Our perspective of the justice system is broad and inclusive,” McNiven added. “It includes the more traditional elements of the system, like courts, tribunals, judges and lawyers. Our view of the justice system also includes administrative entities and all public authorities who have the power to make decisions about serving English-speaking Quebecers in their language. “

The Access to Justice in English initiative is focused on building dialogue and collaborative relationships between the community and the justice system.  With this approach in mind, the Steering Committee decided to focus on three priority areas: Youth protection and young offenders; access to justice for seniors and the elderly; as well as improved access for individuals seeking justice through administrative tribunals, especially but not exclusively, in the areas of labor relations and employment.

Three work groups were established to begin exploring these areas to see what could be done in the short, medium, and long-term to improve access to justice in English in each of these spaces. Work Groups have been meeting every two weeks since Christmas to carry out their mandates.

Appropriately, the event was held at Batshaw Youth and Family Centre, an institution providing services in one of our three key areas of focus for the community forum. The Centre is part of le Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal

Before participants got down to work, they were treated to a conference on Effective Collaborations Between Community and Complex Public Systems by Richard Walling and Louis Hanrahan, Executive Director and Senior Advisor at Jeffery Hale Community Partners in Quebec City. Walling and Hanrahan shared their experiences in engaging in collaborative dialogue with the Health and Social Services Network.

At lunch there was a lively panel discussion with the Honourable Thomas Mulcair, former NDP Canada Leader and MP for Outremont; Mtre Brian Mitchell, Bâtonnier of the Montreal Bar; and the Honourable Marlene Jennings, former Member of Parliament who discussed their experiences in transforming complex systems.

“The forum was a first opportunity for our community and justice system representatives to explore together how to improve access to justice in English,” added QCGN Vice-President Geoffrey Chambers, who sits on the Access to Justice in English project steering committee. “The integration of the linguistic variable is essential for Quebec’s justice system to be respectful of our rights and responsive to our needs. This is especially true for more vulnerable groups, such as youth and seniors, who need community and justice system support to ensure that they are aware of their rights and helped to exercise their rights to access justice in English.

“With dialogue and collaboration, we want to work with the justice system to build a platform that will help to ensure that English-speakers receive justice” added Chambers, noting the forum was just a first step to pursuing a more comprehensive initiative to explore and address issues related to access to justice in English for our community.

“We will work to equip the community with the knowledge and support it needs to engage in constructive and collaborative dialogue and action with the justice system to enhance access to justice in English,” he added, extended thanks to all the volunteers who have contributed so generously of their time, knowledge, experience, and expertise to help the QCGN move this project forward.

“The knowledge we have acquired through this experience will be extremely useful in taking a longer-term, and a more concrete perspective of the actions we can take together to improve access to justice in English,” said McNiven. “The dialogue and collaborative spirit I witnessed over the past few months, and especially during the forum, makes me very hopeful about improving access to justice in English in Quebec.”

BISHOP’S FORUM: REGISTER NOW FOR SECOND ANNUAL YOUTH LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE

For the second year in a row, dozens of English-speaking youths between the ages of 18 and 24 from across Quebec will gather in the Eastern Townships for a week-long youth leadership institute.

From August 12 to 17, 2018, youth from our communities will converge on the campus of Bishop’s University for a week-long immersion into Quebec’s society. Youth will have opportunity to meet some of Quebec’s movers and shakers and make connections that will last a lifetime.

“The Forum will be a unique opportunity for young leaders in the English-speaking community from across the province to spend a week immersed in the exciting and important conversation about the kind of province Quebec currently is and could possibly be,” said Bishop’s Principal Michael Goldbloom.

“The central concept of this initiative is the idea that if young English-speaking Quebecers can wrap their imaginations around how the business of the Quebec’s major institutions is transacted, they will be better equipped to lead the change from which the whole province can benefit,” Goldbloom added.

“The Bishop’s Forum provides participants with a unique five-day civic leadership boot camp, interacting with Quebec leaders – leaders in change, social justice, community, and government” said Bishop’s Forum Director, Russell Copeman. “We will learn from one another in the hope the experience will catalyze a next generation of doers in our communities and province.”

As well engaging with high profile political and community leaders, participants will work in small groups to identify a key change they want to affect in Quebec society and craft both the case for support. This will culminate in presentation to a mock Parliamentary Commission made up of a blue-ribbon panel of Quebec.

This opportunity is supported by the Quebec government as part of its Stratégie d’action jeunesse 2016-2021.

Remember, the Forum is not only for students. Any English-speaking Quebecer between the ages of 18 and 24 can sign up. Participation in the forum is free of charge. Travel, accommodation and meals are all included.  Register now.

The Forum has a small discretionary fund to help successful applicants who might not otherwise be able to participate in the conference due to financial need. For information, please contact Denise Lauzière at denise.lauziere@ubishops.ca.

There are only a few days left to register. Do not miss out on this unique opportunity!

 QCGN SEEKS NOMINATIONS FOR 2018 COMMUNITY AWARDS

This year the Quebec Community Groups Network will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Community Leadership Awards program and is welcoming nominations for the Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Community Service Award and the Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award.

“We are planning an extra special event this year to mark the anniversary and to recognize praiseworthy individuals who have made a real difference for the QCGN and Quebec’s English-speaking community,” said board member Eva Ludvig, who is overseeing the QCGN Community Awards Committee.

“These awards are designed to honour community leaders who have made significant contributions to Quebec’s English-speaking community,” said Ludvig, noting these are the only provincial level awards that recognize individuals who have contributed to the vitality of English-speaking Quebec.

Goldbloom Award

In 2009, the QCGN established community awards to reward individuals who contributed to strengthening the English-speaking community and to building bridges between Quebecers of different backgrounds. QCGN’s Goldbloom Award celebrates individuals who, like Dr. and Mrs. Goldbloom, dedicated much of their lives to ensuring English-speaking Quebec remains a vibrant community within Quebec and Canada.

Candidates for this award must have demonstrated leadership and commitment as a volunteer or as a professional in their chosen field of endeavour. Their contributions can be in any and all regions of Quebec, and in any field from business to academia; from youth to seniors; from health and social services to arts and culture; and any other area such as heritage, the environment, and sports. The guiding principle is that these individuals have provided strong and effective leadership and succeeded in improving the quality life of English-speaking Quebecers and the broader society.  Click here for details on how to nominate someone.

Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award

The Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award was established in 2015 by Quebec Community Groups Network, the Fondation Notre Home Foundation, and CBC Quebec to recognize and celebrate young English-speaking Quebecers engaged in initiatives that create positive change in our communities.

The main objective of the award is to celebrate the leadership and innovative thinking of engaged young English-speaking Quebecers. Nominations must come from organizations and institutions that serve Quebec’s English-speaking minority community.

To be eligible for QCGN’s Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award, candidates must be under the age of 30 and have demonstrated outstanding leadership to an initiative with measurable impact in their community. Click here for details on how to nominate someone.

Recipients of the QCGN Community Awards will be invited to receive their awards at a community recognition ceremony in the fall. Details here.

 

 

Network News February/March 2018

COMMUNITY SHARES CONCERNS AND EXPECTATIONS WITH MINISTER WEIL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By James Shea

QCGN President

Our community is making incremental but positive steps forward in getting the provincial government to recognize and address longstanding issues facing Quebec’s English-speaking minority. Over the past month the Quebec Community Groups Network, our member organizations, as well as stakeholders from all corners of the province participated in a series of consultations with Kathleen Weil, the new minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers. Minister Weil, who is overseeing the creation of a Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, crisscrossed the province to meet with English-speaking Quebecers and organizations and held a series of eight regional and sector online exchanges with her Assistant Secretary William Floch.

At the forum, Weil reiterated her understanding of the community’s priorities: access to health-care services, employability and retaining the young English-speaking Quebecers to prevent a brain drain that impacts our community, but also the province. These are some of our concerns, but only the tip of the iceberg. QCGN participated in all of the online exchanges and many of the regional consultations and we heard a lot of familiar issues: concerns about access to government services of all kinds – especially health and social services; lots of preoccupations about the socio-economic challenges faced by anglos – high unemployment and poverty rates; worries about youth retention and ensuring opportunities to keep them in Quebec; the vitality or our institutions and maintaining control and management of our schools. Also discussed was the continuing matter of our desperate lack of representation in Quebec’s civil service and our all too frequent absence at government discussions/consultations as the province develops policies and programs.

Our most important expectation out of this exercise is that the Minister and her Secretariat be armed with a visionary but realistic plan to address many of these enduring concerns and ensure that the Secretariat is built to last. We are counting on Minister Weil to come up with an action plan that will make a real difference for English-speaking Quebecers – and one that will last beyond the next election, no matter the result. Given the many myths surrounding our community – we are all rich and we all live in Westmount – we also expect the Secretariat will be armed with data and facts that support effective and evidence-based interventions within the civil service on behalf of our community. Weil announced that Finance Minister Carlos Leitão will be holding hold what appears to be a first-ever pre-budget consultation with our community. The consultation takes place next week at McGill. Our expectations from the new Secretariat are high. We will not be satisfied with sprinkling a little money here and there to appease our community in the short term. See coverage of the forum in The Montreal Gazette , on CJAD News, on Global Montreal, and on CTV News. Also view Premier Couillard’s message to forum participants.

 

Federal Budget Foreshadows Action Plan

Speaking of budgets, we are optimistic about hints dropped in this week’s federal budget concerning the upcoming Action Plan for Official Languages. Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s third budget announced an additional $400 million in new funding over five years to support official language programs critical to the vitality of English-speaking Quebec. Our favourite line in the budget was money for “improved access to services for English-speaking communities in Quebec in their official language.” Morneau announced funding for French and English-language minority community radio stations and newspapers as well as new money for cultural, artistic and heritage activities, including community theatre, art workshops, and activities showcasing local heritage or history. Minority language schools will receive $20 million for a variety of early learning and child care initiatives. There is also new money for community organizations to ensure they can continue to provide services for individuals in their communities, to welcome newcomers, and to foster early childhood development. As noted by our Director General, Sylvia Martin-Laforge, the degree to which English-speaking Quebecers will benefit from the initiatives contained in the federal budget rests on the Government of Quebec’s willingness and commitment to ensure our communities can access them. We are very fortunate that the Government of Quebec chose this year to establish a Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, added our Vice-President Geoffrey Chambers. We will work closely with the province to ensure that English-speaking Quebec receives equitable access to initiatives and await details of the Action Plan for Official Languages. Read our press release.

 

Journal de Montréal Polls English-speaking Quebecers

Earlier this month, Le Journal de Montréal featured a vast poll on English-speaking Quebecers with numerous stories and columns that provided French readers with insights on Quebec’s English-speaking community and its concerns. The poll conducted by Léger for Quebec’s largest daily newspaper indicates that one in three English-speaking Quebecers believe that relations with francophones are bad and that they will deteriorate. Half of those were youth under the age of 35. The poll also found that an alarming 60 per cent of our youth who were surveyed have considered leaving Quebec. On sober second thought, that number is not so surprising considering the mobility of youth in a global marketplace. As the expression goes, the world is their oyster. However, QCGN is concerned that many want to leave because they do not consider their French skills are strong enough to work in Quebec. Poll participants also said it’s time for Bill 101 to be softened. They wanted more bilingual signs and, in the aftermath of the Bonjour-Hi fiasco, to be welcomed in businesses in both languages. QCQN Vice-President

 

Montreal Must Include English-speaking Seniors 

Seniors Action Quebec is leading a coalition of English-language groups demanding that the city of Montreal do better in consulting senior citizens for its age-friendly city program. Kim Sawchuk of the ACT team (Ageing + Communication + Technologies) at Concordia University criticized the process noting that Toronto and Ottawa recently held seniors’ consultations and provided information in multiple languages. The city has struggled to translate part of its website into English and reluctantly agreed to additional consultations in boroughs with larger English-speaking populations. But that’s not enough, said Seniors Action Quebec President Michael Udy, who noted that many seniors and the elderly are not present or active on the Internet. As Sawchuk noted, how can seniors trust the city to create an age-friendly city when they cannot create an age-friendly consultation? Seniors Action Quebec, with support from multiple groups including the QCGN, demanded the consultations be broadened to be more inclusive and include English-speaking seniors and those from a variety of cultural communities. They have also asked that the city extend the consultations by several months to include seniors who have a hard time getting around in the ice and snow and those who flew south for the winter. Demands by Montreal seniors are supported by an in-depth research project conducted by the QCGN in collaboration with the Quebec English-Speaking Communities Research Network (QUESCREN). Funded by the Government of Quebec, Building Research Capacity Related to Quebec’s English-Speaking Seniors was a participatory action research study that produced a solid evidence base supporting issues related to the priorities of English-speaking seniors.

 

Montreal is Canada’s Most Trilingual City

While Quebec nationalists fret over the perception Montreal is becoming too bilingual, data from the 2016 census reveals the city is by far the country’s most trilingual city. Statistics Canada‘s figures indicate more than 21 per cent of Montrealers can speak at least three languages, compared with 11 per cent of Torontonians and 10 per cent of people in Vancouver. Nearly 850,000 Montrealers know at least three languages and more than 40 per cent of the city’s immigrants are trilingual.

 

QCGN’s Sylvia Martin-Laforge Awarded Senate 150 Medal

On behalf of the QCGN, I want to congratulate our Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge for being awarded the Senate’s 150th Anniversary Medal by Senator Judith Seidman. The medal commemorates the first time that senators sat in Parliament, on November 6, 1867 – four months after the creation of Canada. Issued by Senators to commemorate Canada’s Sesquicentennial, the medals were awarded to Canadians or permanent residents actively involved in their communities who, through generosity, dedication, volunteerism and hard work, make their hometowns, communities, regions, provinces or territories a better place to live. “As the Senate celebrates a milestone anniversary of its own, this is an appropriate time to celebrate the volunteer work of Canadians,” commented Senator Serge Joyal, co-chair of the Advisory Working Group on the Senate 150th Anniversary Medal. “Not only are the medals highlighting the contributions of Canadians – from coast to coast, from all walks of life and from varied backgrounds – they also highlight the wide diversity of the people whose efforts make Canada great. Senators each received 12 medals to award. The bronze medal, which was struck at the Canadian Mint, features the Senate’s emblem on one side and the Senate Chamber, along with the recipient’s name, on the other.

 

Father John Walsh Joins Order of Canada

Goldbloom Award winner Father John Walsh was  among 125 Canadians who will be inducted later this year into the Order of Canada, Governor General Julie Payetteannounced in late December. The honour was created in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. Father Walsh, a popular Catholic priest, was awarded for his “ability to forge ties and encourage dialogue between faith communities and for his longstanding commitment to charitable causes.” Father Walsh, who runs an interfaith blog called Faith Blender with an Imam and a Rabbi, says he hopes this honour will draw attention to the importance of interfaith relationships. Other English-speaking Quebecers named to the Order of Canada include actor William Shatner of Star Trek fame; McGill University Vice-Principal of Research and Innovation Martha Crago, an internationally known expert on language acquisition; philanthropist Norman E. Hébert, president of Groupe Park Avenue Inc.; as well as pioneering hockey writer Red Fisher, who passed away in January before he could receive this medal. Before retiring from The Montreal Gazette in 2012, Fisher covered the Montreal Canadiens for nearly 60 years, first for the Montreal Star and then The Gazette. For more on these and other inductees, visit: www.gg.ca/honours.

 

PLANS UNDERWAY FOR SECOND ANNUAL YOUTH FORUM FOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT 

Intensive planning is underway for the second edition of the Bishop’s Forum that will be held from August 12-17, 2018 at Bishop’s University.

Russell Copeman, the former MNA and past borough Mayor of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, has been named Director of the 2018 forum, a week-long civic engagement forum for youths between the ages of 18 and 24.

“I like to think of this as boot camp for civic engagement for young English-speaking Quebecers,” said Copeman, who discussed the Forum and helping English-speaking youth feel more grounded in Quebec in this interviewwith Global Montreal’s Jamie Orchard.

During the second week of August, dozens of English-speaking youth from throughout the province will converge on the campus of Bishop’s University for a week-long immersion into Quebec’s society. The youth will have an opportunity to meet movers and shakers and learn about how Quebec works.

Through the week, participants will meet with a broad cross section of Quebec’s political, community, business and other leaders and will work in teams to identify key changes they would like to effect on Quebec society and make their case to a mock Parliamentary.

“The goal is to motivate our youth to become more active and involved citizens,” said Russell Copeman, who is hard at work planning activities that will help Quebec youths hone their knowledge and leadership skills and work to improve the future for themselves, their community and all of Quebec.

“To borrow a line from Mahatma Gandhi, we want them to be the change they wish to see,” said Copeman, noting the Forum aims to inspire young English-speaking Quebecers and give them an understanding of the inner workings of the fundamental institutions of Quebec and Canadian society.

“The Forum will help our youth better understand our province and get to know the English-speaking community,” he said. “We want them to talk about their future in Quebec and help them feel like they really belong here.”

“We hope our community’s youth will make connections that will last a lifetime,” said QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge, who sits on the advisory board of the Forum. “We need our youth to gain a better understanding of  our history, our contributions and recognize they can have a promising future here in Quebec. Our youth are our future and we must do everything in our power to ensure their economic and social integration into Quebec.”

This Bishop’s Forum is supported by the Quebec government as part of its Stratégie d’action jeunesse 2016-2021. Martin-Laforge said funding for forum is the result of effective lobbying by QCGN’s Intersectoral Youth Table to get the provincial government to recognize that Quebec’s English-speaking youth need specific policies and programs.

Participation in the forum is free of charge. Travel, residence, meals, program content and evening events are included. The Bishop’s Forum has also created a small discretionary fund to help successful applicants who might not otherwise be able to participate in the conference due to financial need.

The application deadline for the Forum is May 5. More information on the Bishop’s Forum can be found at www.bishopsforum.ubishops.ca or call Denise Lauzière at denise.lauziere@ubishops.ca

 

QCGN HOSTING COMMUNITY FORUM ON ACCESS TO JUSTICE IN ENGLISH

Entitled No Justice Without Access: Working Together to Ensure Access to Justice in English, the theme of QCGN’s Community Forum on Access to Justice in English could not be clearer. The forum will begin a collaborative community/justice system conversation on barriers to justice services in English in three specific areas, and what can be done to address them.

Scheduled for April 16 at Batshaw Youth and Family Centres in Westmount, the Community Forum will mobilize expert, community, and justice system stakeholders. Employing a people-centered approach, the project was conceived from outside-in and not inside-out.

“The project’s driving principle is that the people seeking justice services in English in Quebec need to shape the system that serves them,” explained lawyer Bruce McNiven, chair of the steering committee overseeing the forum. “It’s about people first and always. English-speaking Quebecers need to be treated not just as clients and consumers of justice services, but as the bearers of rights.”

Funded by Justice Canada, the QCGN’s Access to Justice in English in Quebec project is currently focused on: youth protection and young offenders; access to justice for seniors and the elderly; and labour relations and employment. The forum is a first opportunity for community and justice system representatives to explore together how to improve access to justice in English.

“This forum is the beginning of a very important conversation. It is a first step in positioning the community to pursue more comprehensive access to justice in English initiatives as the new Official Languages Road Map comes on stream in 2018/2019,” commented QCGN Vice-President Geoffrey Chambers, who sits on the steering committee.

The steering committee also includes private practice lawyers Eric Maldoff (Lapointe, Rosenstein, Marchand, Mélançon), Marlene Jennings, lawyer and former MP, Jonathan Nuss (Dentons) and Matt Aronson (Kenneth S. Adessky Attorneys); Arthur Ayers, lawyer and president of the Regional Association of West Quebecers; Fo Niemi, co-founder/executive director, Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), and Sarah Dougherty, lawyer, writer and plain language specialist at Éducaloi.

For more information on the Community Forum and the link to register, click here.

 

COMMUNITY INNOVATION FUND PROJECTS WELL UNDERWAY

By Rita Legault

QCGN Director of Communications

Ten projects funded under the Community Innovation Fund (CIF) are well underway and beginning to achieve tangible results for vulnerable English-speaking Quebecers.

One program by the Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders (CAMI), is motivating young people to complete high school and providing them with job skills specific to opportunities on the Îles-de-la-Madeleine. Another, run by the NDG Senior Citizens’ Council in the Montreal neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grace, is enhancing the employability of English-speaking baby boomers and newcomers to act as companions and advocates in the health-care sector by accompanying seniors to medical appointments.

“Our CIF projects in urban, rural, and isolated communities are really improving the future prospects for vulnerable English-speaking youth, seniors and newcomers,” said John Buck, co-chair of the CIF Governance committee. “These projects are truly transformative for English-speaking youth, seniors and newcomers who are battling isolation. Many of them are eager to work and contribute to society, but as members of a linguistic minority they face multiple challenges integrating into the workforce.”

 

SOCIAL PARTNERSHIP

The Community Innovation Fund is a pilot project which is part of the Social Partnership Initiative in Official Language Minority Communities of the Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013-2018: Education, Immigration, Communities. It began in May 2016 and runs until May 2019. The fund is injecting $1 million of federal funding into our communities over the next two years.

Administered by the Quebec Community Groups Network, CIF has funded 10 projects from community groups with the goal of improving employability or maintaining basic socioeconomic security for vulnerable youth, seniors or newcomers in English Quebec’s English-language communities.

“We are impressed by how our projects are improving the quality of life for our most vulnerable seniors, youth and for newcomers,” said Ian Kott, co-chair of the CIF Governance committee. “A stirring example is the project partnership developed between DESTA schoooland the Community Service Initiative of Concordia University’s MBA program, whereby workshops and courses in entrepreneurship have been developed for Black youth in Montreal. All the funded projects are truly making a difference in our communities.”

“The buzz being generated by the creation of this fund, along with the new partnerships forged by our community groups, is truly inspirational,” said Christine Boyle, project manager, who has touched base with the projects as they are getting off the ground.

 

KNOWLEDGE SHARING

“The QCGN is working to empower the community groups through knowledge-sharing activities focused on providing the skills needed to build collaborative partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders,” Boyle explained, noting that an important component of the CIF is the development of non-traditional partnerships, that is non-governmental funders, to ensure the sustainability of the projects moving forward. To that end a community of practice has been established, whereby groups are sharing best practices.

Last week Le Journal de Montreal featured Phelps Helps, one of our funded projects that fights high school drop-out rates in the Stanstead area of Quebec, as part of its series on Quebec’s English-speaking community. Read the story here. Over the next year, Network News will be featuring stories about our CIF funded projects showcasing how the fund is making a difference in the lives of vulnerable English-speaking Quebecers.

To read about the Community Innovation Fund, please visit our webpage. For further information about the CIF please contact Christine Boyle at 514-868-9044, ext. 257.

 

SHOULD TÉLÉ-QUÉBEC PRODUCE AND BROADCAST STORIES ABOUT QUEBEC’S ENGLISH-SPEAKING CITIZENS?  

By Guy Rodgers

Executive Director of the English-Language Arts Network

Télé-Québec’s mandate includes ‘promoting Quebec’s artistic and cultural life,’ and ‘reflecting regional realities and the diversity of Québec society.’

The English-Language Arts Network inquired of Marie Collin, CEO of Télé-Québec (TQ), if English-speaking Quebecers are part of that diversity. She replied that TQ recognizes its responsibility to reflect the complete diversity of Quebec society, and that it already takes positive action to do so. For example many English-speaking artists are guests on the popular variety program Belle et Bum.

We are a long way from 1968 when Télé-Québec (originally Radio-Québec) was created in a society bitterly divided along linguistic lines. In 2018 most cultural agencies have developed policies on inclusion, and serious efforts are being made to eradicate the old solitudes. One of the most inspiring examples of this new openness is MAtv, Vidéotron’s community channel, which decided two years ago to devote 20 per cent of its programming to English-language production in response to ELAN’s interventions with the CRTC. Rather than protest the change, francophone viewers have been watching programs produced by their English-speaking neighbours.

Where is a better place to share stories across ethno-cultural-linguistic frontiers than community TV? The only better place is an educational TV station. In this spirit, ELAN submitted an intervention in Télé-Québec’s CRTC licence renewal.

 

PART OF THE CONVERSATION

La Press journalist Vincent Brousseau-Pouliot wrote an article about our desire to see stories about English-speaking communities broadcast on Télé-Quebec. La Presse’s article accurately reflected our message: that it is less important that the programs be filmed in French or English, dubbed or subtitled, than that our stories become part of the public conversation.

Brendan Kelly, on CBC radio, was credulous that ELAN could seriously expect to see stories about English-speaking communities broadcast on Télé-Québec. When La Presse posted its article on social media, the conversation quickly exploded in many directions.

Parti-Québécois culture critic Pascal Bérubé stood up in the National Assembly to accuse ELAN of pressuring the CRTC to allocate funding to English-language productions, and he demanded that Minister of Culture Marie Montpetit ‘shut the door’ on ELAN’s demands. Mme Montpetit replied that ‘Télé-Québec will continue promoting Quebec culture and representing its diversity,’ which did not shut the door to Mr. Bérubé’s satisfaction. (See coverage in Le Journal de Montreal.) He and his colleagues in the Parti-Québécois tabled a motion in the National Assembly demanding that 100 per cent of Télé-Québec’s content be produced in French. (Read the PQ press release.)

The point had been lost that the object of ELAN’s intervention was about how Télé-Québec represents – and includes – diversity: not the language in which it does so.  By the time the Gazette’s Don Macpherson and Pascal Bérubé started trading Twitter barbs, as reported in Le Journal de Montréal, it was a reminder that 1968 is not as distant in the rear-view mirror as we like to think.

It was also a reminder of why Quebec recently created a Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers. The Secretariat’s first public meeting in mid-February may not have signaled the dawn of a new social contract, but it did open up a dialogue with Quebec’s government that is welcome.

 

VOLUNTEERS ARE MUCH APPRECIATED AT THE MORRIN CENTRE

Team Caribou – (standing) Guy Roux, Angelica Montgomery, Jennyfer Plourde, (seated) Wallace Robertson, Diane Bird, Joanne Coleman-Robertson, Caroline Joll and Aiden Roberts – were the winners of the word-game treasure hunt at the Morrin Centre. They sit around the campfire in College Hall to enjoy their fresh new coffee mugs.  (Photo: Shirley Nadeau, Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph)

 

By Shirley Nadeau

Reprinted courtesy of the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph

The staff of Quebec City’s Morrin Centre treasure its volunteers. In fact, they need s’more just like you!

Founded in 1824, the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec is the oldest existing learned society in Canada. The Society led the restoration of the Morrin Cultural Centre, which it now runs.

As an English-language cultural centre located in the historical quarter of Quebec City, the Morrin Centre strives to be a leading cultural institution providing the French- and English-speaking public with rich, engaging programming in the areas of heritage interpretation, education, and the arts.

Building upon the heritage building’s history and key institutions, programming at the Morrin Centre provides historical perspective on Quebec City’s unique French-English heritage, develops educational opportunities for youth, and acts as a springboard for artistic creativity. Through its community outreach, it also serves as a bridge between the French- and English-speaking communities of Quebec City, helping them to understand their common past and envision their future.

The Literary and Historical Society of Quebec is managed by a volunteer council composed of 13 people and it counts on numerous other volunteers to manage activities and events at the Morrin Centre.

 

VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION

Every year the Society shows its appreciation by treating its volunteers to a special evening with dinner, fun and games in College Hall. This year’s event featured a word-game treasure hunt, with volunteers going from the hall to the library to the gaol cells in search of clues to unscramble jumbled letters and test their knowledge of the Morrin Centre’s history.

First the 30 volunteers were divided into three teams which then had to create a name for themselves. The Bookies, the Caribous and the Actual Asses (don’t ask…) then set off on their quest to see which team was the best informed and good at solving puzzles.

The Caribous, who were only one or two points ahead of the other teams, were awarded Morrin Centre insulated coffee mugs. There were some great door prizes just for being there, and everyone went home with a delicious treat, a cellophane wrapped s’more (graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallows) with a tag that read, “We need S’More volunteers like you!”

You too can be a volunteer at the Morrin Centre! Just speak to one of the staff to see where you might fit in or visit the Centre’s website to see a list of areas where you can help. There is also a Volunteer Application Form you can download and fill in.

Then, maybe you can join the party next year!

shirley@qctonline.com

 

EXCEL IN THE ESTRIE ESSAY CHALLENGE GOES DIGITAL!

Submitted by Townshippers’ Association

After six years of encouraging high school seniors to share their educational trials and triumphs, the Excel in the Estrie! essay challenge from Townshippers’ Association’s Make Way for YOUth Estrie project is getting a new twist: the video essay.

The new video category in essay challenge gives high school seniors another way to share success stories and inspire others to persevere in school!

The graduating class of 2018 is being asked to write an essay or shoot a short video that shares (1) any academic, social or personal obstacles they faced on their way to graduation and what they did to overcome them; and (2) what they would like their future to look like in the Townships.

“We were excited to add this new take to our essay challenge in time for the annual Hooked on School Days week (Feb 12 to 16),” said Rachel Hunting, executive director of Townshippers’ Association. “This was a great chance for high school grads to let their personalities shine through, and in the process, remind themselves of what they have managed to accomplish before starting on the next phase of their lives.”

 

CONQUERING OBSTACLES

Essays will be accepted in either a written essay of 500 to 600 words or in a short video of less than three minutes. There’s no fancy equipment required for videos— they can be shot using a cell phone camera, but they must be filmed in landscape/horizontal orientation.

Along with Make Way for YOUth Estrie, the essay challenge partners include Cass Funeral Homes, Global Excel Management, and the Government of Canada. Winning submissions will also be featured in a future edition of Townshippers Journal and students could earn up to $500 towards their post-secondary studies!

The essay challenge is open to all graduating high school seniors in the historical Eastern Townships’ English-speaking community who are attending an English language secondary school, or homeschool, and who have been accepted to a post-secondary institution in the Estrie region. Each entry must include a completed entry form. Entries must be submitted no later than April 20, 2018, at 5:00 p.m., using the online submission form found at Townshippers.org/Essay or emailed to mwfy@townshippers.org, or by mail to Excel in the Estrie! c/o Townshippers’ Association, 100-257 Queen, Sherbrooke, QC J1M 1K7.

For more information, and for the complete guidelines visit Townshippers.org/Essay, or contact Holly McMillan at mwfy@townshippers.org, or call 819-566-5717 (toll-free: 1-866-566-5717).

 

Make Way for YOUth Estrie is an initiative of the province-wide Place aux jeunes en region, which encourages the migration and settlement of youth in areas outside of Quebec’s large city centres and is offered to the English-speaking community by Townshippers’. Activities are made possible thanks to the financial support of the Secrétariat à la Jeunesse du Québec and numerous businesses and organizations throughout the Estrie region.

Townshippers’ Association is a non-profit, non-partisan community organization that has been serving the English-speaking community of the historical Eastern Townships since 1979. For more on the Association and its activities, connect online at Townshippers.org or contact Townshippers’ in Sherbrooke at 100 – 257 Queen St. 819-566-5717, toll-free: 1-866-566-5717 or in Lac-Brome at 3-584 Knowlton Rd. 450-242-4421, toll-free: 1-877-242-4421.

 

Network News December 2017

BONJOUR-HI TO 2018

By Jim Shea
QCGN President

Bonjour-Hi,

It has been busy month leading into the Christmas holiday break, one where outstanding items on QCGN’s wish list – the creation of both a Minister and a Secretariat Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers – were granted before our community was caught in the crossfire of a mischievous elf.

With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore

 

‘Twas the month before Christmas, when all through the province

Two Solitudes were stirring, especially in the legislature;

Our community needs were communicated with care;

In hopes that our government soon would be there;

 

Our community was nestled all snug in success,

While visions of a secretariat danced in our heads;

And Kathleen in her ‘kerchief, and Philippe in his cap,

Were hoping to settle for a short winter’s nap,

 

When from the PQ bench arose such a clatter,

Anglos sprang from their nests to see what was the matter.

Away to the media, Lisée flew like a flash,

We tore open our newspapers, we all were aghast.

 

Now the house is adjourned for the new-fallen snow

But the lustre of the kerfuffle is still aglow,

When, what to our wondering eyes should appear,

But a holiday break, and no motions till next year

 

Now, Philippe! now, Kathleen! now, Geoffrey and David!

On, Jean-François! on François! on, Gabriel and Manon!

Off to your ridings! Take a break from the squall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

 

Needless to say, the Bonjour-Hi motion that was passed unanimously in the National Assembly created considerable negative fallout. It was near impossible for our community not to take the motion as an affront. A lot of ink has flowed in the provincial, national and international press. The fallout has made Pastagate look like a picnic. Some of the diatribes were directed at the government – but unfortunately much of the negativity was directed back at our community which was an innocent bystander as the Parti Québécois attempted to use language as a wedge issue – again. The QCGN office even received calls from cranky French-speaking Quebecers complaining that we are the best-treated minority in the world and that if we are not happy living in a French province, there are nine other provinces to which we could move. In the wake of the motion, the QCGN wrote to Premier Couillard, to our 3 Amigos (Kathleen Weil, Geoffrey Kelley and David Birnbaum), to Parti Québécois leader Jean-François Lisée, and to the leaders of the Coalition Avenir Québec and Québec Solidaire. We expressed our tremendous disappointment. We told the Premier that his government had allowed itself to be outmaneuvered by a cynical wedge tactic. Lisée subsequently admitted to the media that the motion he proposed was a trap for Couillard. We found it hard to believe that the Liberals, who have shown more openness toward our community recently, were so easily duped. Since the motion required unanimous consent, the divisive and hurtful debate was completely unnecessary – even if the Liberals managed to ensure the word “irritant”, first used by Language Minister Marie Montpetit, was removed from the watered-down version that passed unanimously. We told all of the party leaders that with one voice, the National Assembly had conveyed a strong and clear message that the simple speaking of English here is unwelcome. We said that such gestures of scorn are damaging to social peace and that our MNAs modelled divisive behaviour. We concluded that our government representatives can and must do better.

Bonjour Welcome

While the greeting Bonjour-Hi! was causing an unduly disproportionate disturbance in Quebec, many of our neighbours to the west would like to see it used more widely in Ontario. In reply to the hubbub in the Twittersphere, Peter Hominuk, Executive Director at Assemblée de la Francophonie de l’Ontario, tweeted that Franco-Ontarians are rather open to the #bonjourhi that provoked such controversy in Quebec. The French-language website #ONfr, which disseminates political news from Ontario and French Canada, interviewed several Franco-Ontarian leaders on this issue, some noting that it is one of the cornerstones of the concept of “active offer”. (Run by the educational television channel Télévision française de l’Ontario, a provincial Crown corporation, TFO is one of the few French-language broadcasters in Canada headquartered outside Quebec.) According to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL), an active offer of service is an open invitation to the public to use one of Canada’s two official languages—English or French—when communicating with or receiving a service from the federal government. The active offer includes a bilingual greeting, such as “Hello! Bonjour!”, and visual cues, such as signs, that support this invitation. OCOL notes that bilingual greetings respect the language rights of the public to be served in the official language of their choice in designated bilingual offices and allows federal employees to promote Canada’s fundamental values of linguistic duality, diversity, inclusion and respect. AFO, our sister organization in Ontario, runs an ongoing campaign that encourages Ontario residents to make an active offer of service but using the greeting: Bonjour_Welcome. For more information about @Bonjour_Welcome, visit the website or the Facebook page.

Liberal Government Creates Secretariat

Numerous members of the QCGN Board of Directors, senior staff and Network representatives were on hand November 24 for the realization of a long term strategic goal – the creation of a new structure in government to respond to the concerns of Quebec’s English-speaking community. The launch of Quebec’s first-ever provincial government office designated to look  after the interests of our community took place at the historic Morrin Center, an institution of Quebec’s English-speaking community located in Old Quebec just few short blocks from the National Assembly. The new Secretariat Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers has been granted a start-up budget of just over $1 million. The QCGN had proposed to the Premier’s office a Secretariat which would eventually be staffed by more than two dozen people—mostly English-speaking Quebecers who are knowledgeable about our community. While the framework for the Secretariat was much more modest than QCGN might have liked, as the community’s main interlocutor with government entities we fully expect that it will ramp up over the coming months and become a genuine asset that will provide serious and sorely needed policy input from our community into provincial government policies and programs. We look forward to working with our new Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, Kathleen Weil, and her new Assistant Secretary, William Floch, to build a robust and enduring Secretariat that will ensure the interests of our Community of Communities are better understood and acted upon by our provincial government partners. Read the government’s communiqué. Read our press release.

Floch to Lead New Secretariat

The QCGN welcomed the nomination of William Floch, who will lead Quebec’s new Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers. As Assistant Secretary, Floch will act as a liaison between the Secretariat and other government ministries. Floch has spent two decades working for the federal government in the department of Canadian Heritage, most recently as the manager for Research and Policy Development. A graduate of McGill University and Bishops University, Bill also managed the Official Languages Program for the Quebec region, and is a former executive director of the Townshippers’ Association. Bill is very knowledgeable about our community and its challenges. He is also enthusiastic to get to work. “I’m very optimistic. There are really positive signs of openings and of support for this concept. I think there’s already a lot of very important work being done in some key sectors (such as) health and education,” Bill told reporters at the news conference announcing his appointment on Nov. 24. “It will be a matter of figuring out across the sectors and ministries where we can help the most and align with community needs and priorities. There are a lot of other people already working within the government structure for the English-speaking community and it’s a matter of connecting with them.” Bill finished his first week on the job speaking at a November conference in Gatineau on his new role bridging the community and the provincial government. “If you are going to be a bridge, sometimes you have to let people walk over you,” he joked, as he participated in a panel that examined the advocacy efforts that led to the creation of the Secretariat and the benefits this historic breakthrough will entail for our community. Entitled Working Together to Create Space for Quebec’s English-speaking Minority Community, the QCGN-sponsored panel also featured Canada’s former Commissioner of Official Languages Graham Fraser and Ontario’s Commissioner of French Language Services, François Boileau. With vast experience in representing the interests of Canada’s official language minority communities, the two agreed this was a significant and happy advance for both Quebec’s English-speaking community and official language communities across Canada. Speaking from experience, Boileau advised Floch to be patient but relentless, and to be pragmatic, not dogmatic. Floch said that in his first week on the job, he had already received overtures from three offices within the government of Quebec seeking help or advice from the Secretariat. He noted there is a broad set of community and government needs and Job One will be to set  priorities. And he reassured listeners that the Secretariat’s objectives are non-partisan: “We want to ensure this survives whatever party is in government. That will be the test of success.”

QCGN Meets MNAs

 

A few days earlier before the launch of the Secretariat, QCGN was in Quebec City for our annual meeting with Members of the National Assembly. The event was a great success, due to the significant presence of QCGN members from all across the province. Some 50 representatives from the Outaouais to the Magdalen Islands, and from the Eastern Townships to the Abitibi, were on hand, along with most of QCGN’s Board of Directors, to discuss the challenges and priorities of our community with our representatives in the National Assembly. We were delighted that Premier Phillippe Couillard dropped in. Last year before our annual meet with MNAs, the Premier held a historic sit-down meeting in his office with QCGN representatives. The positive fallout from that momentous meeting were clear as Couillard spoke briefly about his commitments to our community. Several ministers were in attendance. They included  Kathleen Weil (our new Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers); Gaetan Barrette (Health); Geoffrey Kelley (Native Affairs); André Fortin (Transport); Pierre Arcand (Treasury Board), as well as Stéphane Billette (Small Business) and Luc Blanchette (Forestry and Mines). Plenty of other elected officials were also on hand, including my Gatineau area MNAs Maryse Gaudreault (Hull) and Marc Carrière (Chapleau). Quebec’s regions were well represented by both QCGN’s member and MNAs including Martin Ouellet from the North Shore; Pierre Reid and Guy Hardy from the Eastern Townships; Guy Bourgeois from Abitibi; and Harold Lebel from Rimouski. While the ridings of most of the elected officials on hand have significant English-speaking populations, but some have few anglophone constituents and the MNAs who attended from those constituencies were simply interested in the concerns of our community. Among Montreal-area MNAs, David Birnbaum (D’Arcy McGee) participated, with colleagues including Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (Gouin); Rita de Santis (Bourassa-Sauvé); Saul Polo (Laval des Rapides); Richard Merlini (La Prairie); Jean Habel (Sainte-Rose) and François Ouimet (Marquette).  Also on hand to discuss community priorities and concerns were Jim Carter from the Community Health and Social Service Network; Jack Jedwab of the Association for Canadian Studies; John Buck from the Community Economic and Employability Corporation (CEDEC); and Richard Walling from Jeffery Hale Community Partners. These were among a handful of community and sector leaders who participated in a first sit-down meeting with QCGN and Minister Weil Nov. 6, to discuss her new role and the Secretariat. As well as everyday concerns about government services in their regions and sectors, much of the evening’s conversations revolved around the creation of the Secretariat for which the QCGN and community leaders hold high hopes. Our op-ed on the subject, signed by QCGN Vice President Geoffrey Chambers and I, was published that morning in The Montreal Gazette.

Raymond Théberge to Take the Helm at Official Languages

An old acquaintance was also granted a wish in the lead-up to the holiday season. A few days ago, Raymond Théberge officially became Canada’s seventh Commission of Official Languages. I worked closely with Raymond when he was the Executive Director of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. He is a dedicated advocate for Canada’s official language minority communities, and I look forward to working with him again. I got a chance to personally extend my congratulations to Raymond when I was on hand Dec. 5 for the start of his confirmation hearing before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages, which unfortunately was interrupted by technical problems with the recording equipment. My Board colleague Eva Ludvig was on hand when the Committee reconvened a few days later. He assured her that a visit to Quebec was a first order of business. The QCGN looks forward to his becoming better acquainted with Quebec’s English-speaking minority community. We are eager to share with him the priorities and challenges of English-speaking Quebec. Read our press release.

New Senate Committee Members Committed to Visiting Quebec

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with the Honourable René Cormier, the new Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages. Senator Cormier, who hails from New Brunswick, reached out to QCGN to introduce himself. He assured us of his Committee’s continued interest in guaranteeing the voice of English-speaking Quebecers in their work. He also confirmed the Committee will be continuing its study on the modernization of the Official Languages Act. This will include a visit to Quebec in April 2018. On the Committee are Rose-May Poirier (New Brunswick), who is the deputy chair; former chair Claudette Tardif (Alberta); Raymonde Gagné (Manitoba); Paul E. McIntyre and Percy Mockler (New Brunswick); Lucie Moncion (Ontario); as well as Ghislain Maltais and Marie-Françoise Mégie from Quebec. The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages has the mandate to study all matters relating to official languages generally and matters relating to the application of the Official Languages Act (OLA) and the regulations and directives made under it. The Committee investigates the respect of Canadians’ language rights and the principle of equality of the two official languages. It examines questions pertaining to the OLA and pays particular attention to the federal government’s role and its commitment to advancing English and French in Canadian society and to enhancing the vitality of the English and French linguistic minority communities. On behalf of the QCGN, I re-affirmed our commitment to assisting the Senate Committee in their work, and added that QCGN looks forward to meeting Senator Cormier in person.

QCGN STAFF HOLIDAY BREAKFAST A SUCCES

Four dozen members and stakeholders of the QCGN were on hand for our Annual Holiday Breakfast and Open House. Among our guests were Kathleen Weil, the new Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, the Assistant Secretary of the Secretariat William Floch and frequent guest D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum. Also on hand were Pierrefonds-Roxboro Borough Mayor Dimitrios Jim Beis, Bonnie Soutar from the NDG Food Depot as well as several members of the QCGN Board of Directors and the staff and boards of our member groups. Our staff-led holiday tradition, which is coupled with a fundraising activity to support one of our member or stakeholder organizations, collected some $400 as well as two boxes full of non-perishable items to support the activities of the NDG Food Depot, which works collaboratively with other community partners to address issues of food security in NDG and the surrounding areas. If you missed the event but want to show your support for the NDG Food Depot, you can donate online by clicking on the button below or drop off a donation of cash or food at 6450 Somerled Ave. in Montreal. To consult the wish list of most needed items, click here.

COMMUNITY MEDIA ALIVE AND THRIVING DESPITE CLOSURES

By Richard Tardif
Quebec Community Newspapers Association

The Quebec Community Newspapers Association (QCNA) and L’Association de la Presse Francophone (APF) recently denounced a deal between Canadian print giants Torstar Corp. and Postmedia Network Inc. to swap newspapers and shut them down, effectively eliminating local newspapers and monopolizing withering advertising markets while cornering readers.

According to a Postmedia press release, the transaction involves 41 community and daily newspapers, eliminating in its wake an estimated 291 jobs. See coverage by CBC, The Globe and Mail, and The Financial Post.  No Quebec papers were affected by the swap of community and daily newspapers. Postmedia operates The Montreal Gazette.

“Although this is not good news, and it’s never easy to see print media close up shop while good people lose their jobs, it’s important to remember what community newspapers stand for. Community media is vibrant, more important than ever, and will continue to act as models for the future of real journalism,” says QCNA President Steve Bonspiel. “We tell our community’s stories, highlight the accomplishments of our neighbours, and stand up for the truth through solid reporting and research. That will never change, but more and more we need the support of our communities and government to ensure our survival.”

The announcement comes two short months after Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, focusing on Canada’s cultural strategies, declared that the government’s approach to Canada’s newspaper industry is not to “bail out industry models that are no longer viable.” The Liberal government, she added, will instead support “innovation, experimentation and transition to digital.”

This was a surprise to many, considering that Joly had conducted a year-long consultation on how to overhaul Canada’s cultural policies and strategies, particularly in the context of community newspapers.

“It is deplorable to see so many English-speaking majority communities lose their newspapers. The layoff of 291 employees will have serious repercussions on the information sector and the community vitality of the targeted regions,” said APF President Francis Sonier. “This situation should be a wake-up call for our governments, especially as a very strong reminder that  minority community media are even more vulnerable and just as important, if not essential, to enable all Canadians from official language communities to fully live in their language.”

The Quebec Community Newspapers Association provides advocacy, government representation, marketing and promotion for 31 Quebec’s English-written community newspapers. Among other activities, it highlights newspaper challenges in official language markets and provides possible solutions and establishes partnerships that will benefit members and the association.

MADE IN ESTRIE ARTISTS NETWORKING EVENT A RESOUNDING SUCCESS

Submitted by Townshippers’ Association

On Nov. 14, the English-Language Arts Network (ELAN) and Townshippers’ Association partnered with the Conseil de la Culture de l’Estrie and the organizer of Shazamfest to host Made in Estrie, a networking evening aimed to bring French- and English-speaking artists together. The evening proved a resounding success!

Organizers and partners included, just shy of 50 people attended the 5 à 7 style event and 14 participated in a special edition “minute market”.

What made this minute market special, you ask?  Participating artists (writers, painters and musicians from the Estrie region) were paired with someone from the other language community and given a short amount of time to introduce themselves and talk about their craft. Each pair then presented the other’s work to the group, using their second language. Once the ice had been broken by a courageous first pairing, the minute market went off without a hitch and accomplished what the organizers had hoped– two artistic solitudes came together and shared their art, their current projects, and some laughs.

The event was held at Irisium in Sherbrooke’s downtown core, a recently opened creative space for musicians and visual artists. Its mission is to foster the development of musicians and artists by providing the facilities, services and support that will help them reach their full potential. This location was very much a natural fit for this networking activity.

Comments from participants have been encouraging. Moving forward, Townshippers’ is looking forward to doing more in partnership with the Conseil de la Culture de l’Estrie. Many thanks to Guy Rodgers and the English-Language Arts Network for helping to get the ball rolling, by lending us their expertise and suggesting such a winning formula.

SIX COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS IN THE TOWNSHIPS HOST FESTIVE OPEN HOUSE

Townshippers of all ages are invited to celebrate the holidays with our community organizations in the Marguerite Knapp Building at the annual Open House Wednesday, Dec. 20, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

 

Meet and mingle with the team behind Townshippers’ Association, a non-profit organization serving the region’s English-speaking community and learn about their many community programs, activities, and projects. Enjoy refreshments while getting to know five other community organizations that share the building including the Lennoxville and District Women’s Centre, Mental Health Estrie, Townshippers’ Foundation, The Townships Sun, and the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN).

Earn some extra “nice” points before the holidays by bringing new hats, underwear, gloves, socks, and scarves, and other warm articles of clothing, to donate toward Mental Health Estrie’s  HUGS campaign. Cash gifts of $10 and more will be used to purchase warm essentials, and their donors will be issued a tax receipt.

QAHN will have copies of the latest issue of Quebec Heritage News, and, in honour of the festive season and the open house, will offer all new members a special holiday membership rate.

Visitors can also take advantage of some last-minute holiday shopping from Townshippers’ Association’s boutique and give someone a taste of the Townships with books, music, cards, and artwork from the Townships Expression collection.

Everyone is welcome to this free event at the Marguerite Knapp building, 257 rue Queen, Sherbrooke (Lennoxville), from 5 to 7 on Wednesday, December 20, 2017. If you’re new to the area, this is a great chance to meet new people and see what these community organizations can do for you. Parking is available behind the building, accessible via Charlotte St.

For more information visit www.Townshippers.org or call 819-566-5717 (toll-free 877-566-5717).

 

VEQ HOLIDAY HAPPY HOUR RAISES FUNDS FOR HAMPERS

Submitted by Voice of English-speaking Quebec

 

On December 6, Voice of English-speaking Quebec (VEQ) held its annual Holiday Happy Hour at the Morrin Centre in Quebec City. More than 140 community members came together in the spirit of the holiday season and in support of the Community Christmas Hamper Campaign. The event was enjoyed by all and was successful in collecting funds and non-perishables for less fortunate members of our community. This year, the campaign will deliver holiday goodness to more than 200 families. Check out www.qchampers.ca for more details on this initiative.

Network News November 2017

QCGN/COMMUNITY LEADERS MEET WITH MINISTER WEIL

By Jim Shea
QCGN President

The QCGN was pleased to host a first major meeting between Kathleen Weil, Quebec’s Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, and community leaders. High on the agenda for the meeting on Nov. 6, was the creation of a Secretariat that will respond to the policy and program needs of Quebec’s English-speaking community. The Secretariat will be an historic first for our community and, as we previously stated, the QCGN is very pleased that Weil, an experienced and capable minister, will be responsible for setting it up. Weil, who sat down with the QCGN’s Government Relations Committee and other QCGN leaders and stakeholders to discuss her new role, thanked our organization for its persistence in advocating for a minister or a mechanism to represent the community in the Quebec government. She also expressed her commitment to making a difference for our community. Throughout the two-hour meeting, the QCGN argued that the dialogue that leads to good policy needs to be founded on good evidence, and we discussed how the QCGN and the community can assist the new Secretariat in establishing a realistic demographic and socio-economic portrait of our community as well as its needs and priorities. Weil recognized that by their very nature, linguistic minority communities require an asymmetrical approach in Quebec. We discussed a number of priorities that we can work on together, including the longstanding need to ensure a larger presence for our community in the provincial civil service. The Minister also acknowledged that community organizations will need resources and capacity to act as an effective partner with the government to realize these goals and projects. This will entail the allocation of material and financial resources in the short and long term. Read our press release.

QCGN Leaders to Meet with MNAs

As the QCGN works with Minister Weil on the creation of a Secretariat, next week the QCGN will be holding its fourth annual information evening for Members of the National Assembly. The event, which will take place in the Library of the National Assembly on Tuesday, aims to bring together community leaders and MNAs from all parties to have an informal discussion about the needs and priorities of Quebec’s English-speaking communities.

Premier Names Weil to Act For and With Our Community

Earlier this fall, the QCGN welcomed the nomination of Kathleen Weil as Quebec’s Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers. The QCGN is pleased that Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, who refused to consider a minister when he was running for the Liberal leadership, has reversed his position. Couillard has acknowledged that our community does not want special treatment, but truly needs a team in place to ensure its needs and priorities are well understood by the government and most especially by the bureaucracy where our community is notoriously underrepresented. Our community has been asking for an interlocutor in government for many years and the Secretariat will be an important mechanism to get serious and sorely-needed policy input from our community. We also note that one of Minister Weil’s first public events was the QCGN’s annual Community Awards banquet on Oct. 26. Read the QCGN’s press release, The Gazette’s editorial as well as reporter Phil Authier’s coverage herehere, and here. Also view and listen to coverage on CBC, CTV, Global and CJAD.

QCGN Meets with Parliamentarians

Meanwhile in Ottawa, the QCGN hosted a cocktail for Parliamentarians in the Commonwealth Room of Centre Block in Ottawa as the new session got underway in the House of Commons on October 16. Enthusiastically attended by more than 30 Members of Parliament and Senators and some of their staff, our event was co-sponsored by Senator Judith Seidman and Mount-Royal MP Anthony Housefather. I was pleased to lead a QCGN/Community delegation that included executive committee members Geoffrey Chambers, Walter Duszara and Eva Ludvig as well as Brian Rock, President of the Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations (QFHSA), Richard Tardif, from the Quebec Community Newspapers Association (QCNA), and Leslie (Laszlo) Acs and John Buck from the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC). QCGN was pleased to bring along some young community leaders including Malcom Lewis Richmond, runner up for our Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award; Chelsea Craig, President of the Young Liberals of Canada (Quebec); and Jonathan Seifert, from the Conservative Club of Concordia University. Also with us to explain the issues faced by our Official Language Minority Community were the Interim Commissioner of Official Languages Ghislaine Saikaley, Assistant Commissioner Mary Donaghy and Quebec Representative David Johnston.

Prior to the evening’s event, I took advantage of our presence in Ottawa to introduce the QCGN to the newest members of the House Standing Committee on Official Languages, Stephanie Kusie (Calgary Midnapore), and Alupa Clarke (Beauport — Limoilou).

Senators Planning Visit to Quebec

The QCGN was contacted recently by the Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages which is planning a visit to the English-speaking community of Quebec in the Spring. The visit, tentatively planned for March, is to do research to support their study regarding the future of the Official Languages Act. The last time the Senate Committee visited our community, Senators produced a seminal report entitled The Vitality of Quebec’s English-Speaking Communities: From Myth To Reality. Replete with useful recommendations, the Senators’ report provided the QCGN, our organizations and our community with a wealth of evidence that has been used in our advocacy efforts with governments at all levels.

Court Challenges Program Expert Panel Selection

Earlier this year, the Government of Canada announced the reinstatement of the Court Challenges Program (CCP).  Since then, the University of Ottawa was chosen to implement and manage the program, and a selection committee was appointed to make recommendations on the composition of two independent expert panels, seven individuals on the linguistic expert panel, and seven on the equality expert panel. Last week, the Department of Canadian Heritage launched the ministerial appointment process to fill these 14 positions. Full details regarding this appointment opportunity are available here. QCGN stakeholders are encouraged to distribute this notice throughout their networks. The QCGN is willing to consider supporting the application of qualified individuals with a proven track-record defending and enhancing the linguistic rights of English-speaking Quebecers.

GUEST EDITORIAL

By Guy Rodgers
English-Language Arts Network

Culture is an unpredictable, volatile business. Just ask any of the three Ministers of Culture and Communications who have held the portfolio in the past 18 months. Hélène David launched Quebec’s first Cultural Policy review in 25 years, then was moved to Higher Education in the 2016 cabinet reshuffle. Luc Fortin made a valiant effort to walk the tightrope of promoting French-language culture while recognizing that English-speaking artists are also part of Quebec’s culture, before being moved to the Family Ministry in October. Now the Cultural Policy dossier has been entrusted to a new face, Marie Montpetit.

The cultural policy review got off to a dubious start when invitations to participate in the process somehow failed to reach the English-speaking arts community. Warning bells tinkled when none of the briefing documents for the cultural policy review mentioned English-language culture.  This was a marked retreat from the positive affirmation made in 1992. The one exception was a question about how to deal with the “problem’ of artists creating work in English – presumably aimed at francophones choosing to tap into the international English-speaking market. Throughout the process, Minister Fortin assured ELAN that despite administrative flaws in the review process, his government was committed to a robust policy recognizing and supporting English-speaking artists. The key point ELAN emphasised in its final presentation for the cultural policy review is that culture in Quebec will always be subject to misunderstandings, questions and suspicions, especially for artists in a minority situation. It is essential for English-speaking artists to have a place to take their questions and complaints.  A designated cultural ombudsman would go a long way toward eliminating an on-going feeling of marginalization shared by many English-speaking artists.

Meanwhile, the optimism surrounding CALQ’s 2016-19 Cultural Diversity Action Plan turned to confusion, disappointment, and anger for many culturally diverse artists and organizations when this summer’s funding results were announced. During the question period at CALQ’s annual information session for arts service organizations in October, I asked CEO Anne-Marie Jean if she was aware of negative responses to funding decisions. She replied that a Cultural Diversity Action Plan does not mean that every culturally diverse organization will be funded. Fair enough. But that doesn’t explain why award-winning culturally diverse artists and organizations were cut or not funded.
Additionally, the Quebec Drama Federation, a venerable arts service organization, has been granted one final year of reduced funding before being cut completely. How could such a drastic decision be made without asking the English theatre community if it collectively benefits from the work QDF does?  CALQ has agreed to meet with QDF and PACT (Professional Association of Canadian Theatres) and ELAN to discuss the complaints. We hope these meetings will restore confidence in how CALQ’s decisions are made.  And we hope that the new Cultural Policy and Action Plan will create a permanent mechanism which can address this kind of grievance quickly and directly.

COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE TO BECOME NEXUS FOR KNOWLEDGE SHARING AND COLLABORATION

By Jordan Black
CIF Fund Coordinator

The 10 groups whose projects were funded through the Community Innovation Fund found out they had more in common than they first thought when they met in early November for the kick-off meeting of the Community of Practice on Sustainability.

A central tenet of the $1 million CIF initiative, the community of practice is designed to create a culture shift in the minority official language community sector by encouraging open collaboration between groups, including the sharing of resources and best practices relating to fundraising, partnership development, social enterprise, service delivery, and organizational capacity building.

The word of the day was diversity, with the groups’ target populations varying from small maritime communities to highly diverse inner-city immigrant populations and organizations from on and off the Island of Montreal. Some are well-established while others are just getting started.

During a round of ice-breakers, it came out that a surprising number of participants had been with their organizations for longer than some of the groups had even existed.

“This wide range of projects and organizations is a sign of the vast potential for social innovation to transform community organizations,” commented Beverly Caplan, a senior adviser on the CIF project. However, many felt it might also represent a challenge in terms of finding common themes around which to unite.

Later, in a series of workshops and activities designed to allow the group to feel their way towards a common sense of purpose, participants discussed the challenges they face in their specific milieus as well as some of the success stories they’ve had so far. Through this exercise, it became apparent that some groups had more in common than they initially thought. For example, when one group from an isolated community mentioned fears about government programs creating perverse incentives for youth, they were met with agreement from inner-city groups who initially seemed to be in quite a different situation.

By meeting face-to-face, the hope is that CIF recipients will be able to build strong bonds of cooperation in order to leverage the overall impact of their joint endeavours to drive greater investment from the private sector, as well as to share ideas around the establishment of social enterprise and alternative revenue generation.

As one participant mentioned during a plenary session, “we’re starting to see where issues we’re having might overlap with some other groups, and hopefully we can find a way to work together on that.” One fortuitous outcome of the community of practice would be for these groups to join forces to push for more tailored service delivery from the government to meet the specific demands of local communities.

The meeting kicked off with a word from QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge, executive sponsor for the CIF initiative. She discussed with candour the years of work that fed into the development of the CIF project.

“Seeing you all gathered here together in this room is the culmination, for me and my team, of more than three years of hard work,” Martin-Laforge said, adding that, as a pilot project funded through Employment and Social Development Canada, various stakeholders will be watching closely to learn from the CIF model.  “We need you to help us make a case for a renewal of this project to ensure that these funds keep coming into our English-speaking community, whether through the QCGN or another intermediary.”

Martin-Laforge said the newly announced provincial Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, to be headed by Minister Kathleen Weil, signalled a turning of the tide for relations with the provincial government. “The QCGN will continue to work for renewed investment in the wider English-speaking community in Quebec from all levels of government,” she said, adding that she hopes the province will agree to match any additional federal funds paid into the CIF program.

Facilitated by Emma Legault and Sarah Manolson, whose expert services were provided to the CIF by Learn Quebec, the meeting concluded with a round of thanks to various stakeholders and a discussion of key takeaways and lessons that will inform the design of the next meeting, to be held in March. The plan is for the community of practice to become a nexus for knowledge sharing and collaboration among various groups serving the needs of the English-speaking and other non-Francophone minority communities in Quebec.

The CIF team received outstanding support from Concordia University. Professor Lorraine O’Donnell, a CIF project partner, arranged a warm and inviting room for the meeting in the School of Community and Public Affairs and lunch was sponsored by the university through the efforts of Marie-Josée Allard, director of hospitality. Victoria Pearson, assistant to the principal, provided much-appreciated technical and logistical support.

EXCEPTIONAL QUEBEC LEADERS FÊTED AT ANNUAL QCGN BANQUET

By Irwin Block

Activists and supporters of Quebec’s English-speaking community, including politicians from three levels of government, gathered on Oct. 26 to pay tribute to five people for their extraordinary contributions to improving the lives of community members and the broader society.

Clifford Lincoln, Sid Stevens and Earl De La Perralle, and James Carter are the winners of this year’s Victor and Sheila Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service awards. They, and Claudia Di Iorio, winner of the Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award, were fêted at a banquet at Montreal’s Club Saint James.

QCGN President James Shea praised this year’s winners as “extraordinary leaders who have made exceptional contributions to our community of communities. All are devoted visionaries who have served their community and their causes.”

The main award was created by the QCGN nine years ago and named for the late physician and political leader Victor Goldbloom and his wife Sheila, a social worker and tireless community volunteer. Speaking at the ceremony, Mrs. Goldbloom singled out two of the award winners for a personal connection: Jim Carter, who had been her student at McGill’s School of Social Work, and Clifford Lincoln, a cabinet colleague of her husband while Robert Bourassa was premier in the late 1980s.

Goldbloom thanked all the winners for how they have helped Quebec and Canada.

Kathleen Weil, the newly named provincial Minister responsible for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers, said she knows first-hand “the enormous impact dedicated volunteers have on society.”

Weil said the creation of a secretariat to deal with issues affecting Quebec’s English-speaking community has “enormous potential” and shows the Liberal government is ready “to bolster our sense of belonging here in Quebec … that everyone should feel that they are part of this great society, part of its future.”

Emcee Mutsumi Takahashi said she has enormous respect for Clifford Lincoln, and cannot forget the moment when he resigned from cabinet in 1989 over his government’s refusal to accept a Supreme Court ruling on the language of commercial signs. “I still can see him standing in the National Assembly, when he said there is no such thing as inside rights and outside rights, rights are rights are rights,” she said.

“He is a man with an unwavering sense of justice, a master in balancing the needs and aspirations of this community,” Takahashi added. “He has made and continues to make a real difference in areas such as English-language rights, the environment, education, public transit, health and social services, and the rights of the intellectually handicapped.”

In response, Lincoln expressed his love for Montreal and Quebec, adding “we are really true Canadians if we are good Quebecers, and good citizens of Montreal.”

Lincoln paid tribute to both Goldblooms, and the late Gretta Chambers, whose recent passing was marked during the awards ceremony. “They are people who crossed thresholds between one community and the other, that believe English- and French-speaking communities belong to each other. There is no way that we should divide ourselves in sterile conflicts.”

Lincoln said he hoped “the young generation will take over from us the old ones, that they will stay here … and show that it is possible to live here, in English, defend our culture and be proud of it, and at the same time be also Québécois, Montréalais, et Canadiens.”

Sid Stevens accepted the award for himself and Sun Youth co-founder Earl De La Perralle, who built and developed the organization since its founding as a community newspaper in 1954.

“The best testimony on how effective Sun Youth is, is the number of people who return as adult volunteers,” said Takahashi. “They were once helped by Sun Youth, they now want to give back.”

Stevens thanked Sun Youth’s 1,500 volunteers and all levels of governments for their support, which he noted was a crucial element in the success of the organization.

The key to its success, he said, is “dedication, determination, pride, teamwork, and discipline” and people ready to make sacrifices to improve the lives of others.

“There are three types of people: those who watch things happen, those who are wondering what’s happening, and the people in this room who have made things happen,” he said, thanking the QCGN for the award.

James Carter, recognized for a lifetime of advocacy for improved access to health and social services in English, was credited for his “determination, vision, patience, and talent as a negotiator over many years. He has the ability to harness the talent and the dedication of individuals within diverse organizations and with a very steady hand empowered them to tackle and assume a prominent leadership role.”

Carter was described as second only to lawyer Eric Maldoff in his knowledge of the legislation and various regulations and practices governing access in English to health and social services in Quebec.

Carter said his credo is “community action for social change” and that the award was a celebration of that credo. He noted that Sheila Goldbloom was an important influence in his development.

The QCGN praised Claudia Di Iorio, winner of the Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award. The QCGN noted the second-year McGill law student, was “brilliant, resilient, courageous, a young woman who has overcome so much to become a highly visible and influential advocate of safe driving.”

Di Iorio recovered from a month-long coma and severe injuries from a car accident seven year ago at the age of 16. She noted that though traffic fatalities in Quebec have been decreasing, almost one person a day dies in a car accident, and that is “one too many.”

Di Iorio described her award as “a symbol of hope, strength, unity, and innovation,” and urged audience members to “be careful on the way home, drive safely, but most importantly, have fun!”

To view the CTV Montreal features on our winners, the awards booklet and more photos of the event, visit our website: https://qcgn.ca/2017-goldbloom-awards/.

McGILL PROFESSOR DEVELOPS TOOL THAT MAKES ROOM FOR ENGLISH-SPEAKING COMMUNITY IN TEACHING OF QUEBEC HISTORY 

Dr. Paul Zanazanian of the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University has developed a pedagogical tool designed to complement the provincial history program and to make room for the diverse presence and contributions of English-speakers to Quebec.

“The tool empowers English-speaking youth to discover who they are, where they come from, and where they are headed,” said Dr. Zanazanian.

Based on a prior study, Zanazanian created an interactive narrative framework that helps teachers engage their students in learning the history of English-speaking Quebec. The main objective is for students to produce their own stories of belonging through investigative historical research.

This pedagogical tool includes a core story line, or underlying narrative pattern, that helps students frame their researched perspectives within a larger understanding of the history of the English-speaking community, thereby strengthening their connection to Quebec.

The key turning points in the history of English-speaking Quebec help structure the tool while two guiding themes — diversification through immigration, and working together to build a common civic project — act as narrative threads.

“Teachers can guide students to develop their own histories by helping them think and weave their stories like historians do,” Zanazanian explained. “This allows students to develop their own opinions about the past rather than soaking in those presented to them by authority figures who may have agendas of their own.”

To help them defend the ideas they put forth, the tool further assists students to situate their stories within larger understandings of how societies use history. “Not only does this allow them to validate their stories of belonging, it also helps them better understand and be more open to the history program they are being taught,” said Zanazanian.

Zanazanian is currently conducting a research study on Secondary 3 and 4 history teachers in English schools. The goal of the new study is to understand how they make room for the presence and contributions of English-speaking Quebecers when teaching Quebec’s history curriculum. He is seeking English-language history teachers for the study. For details contact paul.zanazanian@mcgill.ca.

QFHSA FALL CONFERENCE LOOKS AT NEXTSCHOOL

Submitted by the Quebec Federation
of Home and School Associations

Bringing about culture shifts is not easy. Overhauling a system requires innovation, engagement, and a high degree of risk. This is certainly the case in education, where it is easy to stick with the traditional system that has existed for decades. But educators Noel Burke and Michael Canuel think it is entirely possible.

These two men, both leaders in the field of education in Quebec, delivered the keynote address at the 73rd annual Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations (QFHSA) Fall Conference to an audience of home and school representatives from across the province. Held in Vaudreuil-Dorion on Oct. 28, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary gymnasium was full for the presentation, which focused on ways in which Quebec’s education system is, to state it simply, behind the times.

The architects behind the NEXTSchool project, Burke and Canuel, spoke at length of how the system must change should teachers, parents, and most importantly students, want to succeed in a rapidly changing society.

Canuel, CEO of LEARN Quebec and founder of the Canadian e-learning network, opened the address by discussing the challenges that children face in a globalized society. Burke, an educational consultant, school commissioner, and instructor at McGill University and Concordia University, echoed Canuel’s calls for change in his portion of the presentation.

Burke explained how NEXTSchool project seeks a proactive approach to meeting the needs of students in the classroom. Its primary objective is the decompartmentalization of learning. Student expectations are the focus in this system, with the teacher acting as a navigator. An emphasis is placed on collaboration, autonomy, relevant learning, and a sense of belonging, providing more opportunities for students and staff alike.

Burke described it as giving the students and teachers a voice in what is taught. “It’s like turning the whole thing upside down.”

The conference continued with a series of workshops, some addressing Home and School leadership issues while others addressed parenting concerns. The morning workshops (The Diamond Relation Between Home and School, Governing Board, Administration and School Boards; Online Payments for Home and School Activities and Email Etiquette) addressed issues that can help Home and Schools run more efficiently and effectively. The afternoon workshops (Teen Depression, Art Feels Good and Full of Character) offered information to parents on how to help the psycho-social development of their children.

Three Regional Council Meetings rounded off the day, giving representatives of Home and School associations in different school boards across the province, an opportunity to exchange ideas and concerns. We were especially pleased to have representatives from Baie Comeau Home and School come down for the conference and share their perspectives.

The first Home and School meeting was held in Quebec at Macdonald High School in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue in 1919.  In 1944, the local Home and School Associations formed the Québec Federation of Home and School Associations. Home and School has served, over the years, as a valuable institution for encouraging and supporting parental involvement in education in Quebec.

In 2019, the Québec Federation of Home and School Associations (QFHSA) will be celebrating the centennial (100 years) of its first Home and School meeting in Quebec as well as 75 years of networking as a federation.

FRANÇAIS AND ENGLISH SPOKEN AT VEQ’S LANGUAGE EXCHANGE CAFÉ

By Cassandra Kerwin
Courtesy of the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph

Newcomers improve their pronunciation and enunciation skills in both French and in English at the second Newcomers’ Language Exchange Café presented by the Voice of English-Speaking Quebec (VEQ).

After moving to Quebec City, newcomers have to learn to communicate mainly in French but, if they are not anglophones to begin with, also in English. For the evening, VEQ newcomers’ activity coordinator Jessica Price prepared a series of games specific to each language.

Price welcomed 20 newcomers to Quebec City to the second Language Exchange Café where they gathered to enjoy coffee and bilingual games at the Jeffery Hale Pavilion on Oct. 26. “The goal of tonight is to speak another language,” she said.

People become more anxious and shy, when learning a new language, especially when speaking in front of others, she said.

“Everyone makes mistakes, in English and in French. We all have trouble finding words. Don’t be shy about your accent; we all have one,” said Price. “However, accents and definitions of certain words change from one culture and language to the next.”

She told participants that bilingual volunteers were there to help them learn but also have fun.

Price and her team organized a series of games placed on different tables, half of which were designated as either French or English. Some people had fun sticking to one language, when it was easier and more comfortable to stick to the other.

Throughout the evening, people playing Qui suis-je? or Who/What Am I? had to ask “yes” or “no” questions to determine the name of the person and the object or animal written on a Post-it note placed on their back. At other tables, participants had to find the differences between two photos, or verbally direct their partner to create an image with straws.

Newcomers improved their French and their English as they learned about different cultures.

Listening to them speak, one comes to realize that certain syllables taken for granted in one language are hard to pronounce in a foreign language, with the most evident being the “th” sound in English and the “euil” sound in French. As the evening progressed, levels of anxiety and shyness diminished greatly, while levels of pronunciation and enunciation gradually increased.

VEQ is offering a Winds of Change Workshop for Newcomers on Thursday, Nov. 23, at 6:30 p.m. in the Jeffery Hale Pavilion. For more information and to register, visit www.veq.ca or call Jessica Price at 418-683-2366 ext. 225.

NEIGHBOURS COMMISSION MURAL TO CELEBRATE CULTURAL DIVERSITY OF ROUYN-NORANDA

Submitted by Neighbours Regional
Association of Rouyn-Noranda

As part of the Canada 150 Celebrations, Neighbours Regional Association of Rouyn-Noranda commissioned a mural to highlight the heritage and cultural diversity of the city.

The mural was officially inaugurated during the Canada Cultural Days on Sept. 30. It depicts a red-haired woman hanging out linens as her husband blows her a kiss before going off to work. From the lunch box he is carrying, it is suggested that he works at Noranda Mines.

The premise of the mural is that neighbourhood ladies are getting together for a community picnic and have each supplied a table linen or blanket from their own country of origin; hence flying in the wind on the clothesline you find motifs representing Polish, Ukrainian, French, Scottish, Italian, Russian and German immigrants. The motifs were contributed or approved by Neighbours who are members of that culture.

On hand for the inaugurations were Ghislaine Saikaley, interim Commissioner of Official Languages, James Shea, President of Quebec Community Groups Network and chair of the Western Quebec School Board; Christine Moore, MP for Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Parliamentary Critic for Rural Affairs & Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec; Luc Blanchette, Quebec’s Minister responsible for Forests, Wildlife and Parks and Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue; André Tessier, acting Mayor Ville de Rouyn-Noranda; as well as John Buck and Grant Myers of the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC).

GET READY TO DIVE INTO LOCAL LIT AT THE HOLIDAY POP-UP BOOK FAIR

Submitted by the
Quebec Writers’ Federation

Expect hundreds of new titles for sale, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, books for kids, award-winners and bestsellers as the Association of English-language Publishers of Quebec (AELAQ) and the Quebec Writers’ Federation present their annual Holiday Pop-Up Book Fair at Le Café in the Monument National on Nov. 25 and 26.

The free event encourages booklovers of all ages and interests to browse, buy, and get books signed — just in time for holiday gift-giving. There will also be fun readings, festive celebrations and the chance to meet acclaimed local authors.

“It’s not just about selling books — it’s also about celebrating the vibrant literary scene by bringing together writers, publishers, translators and the public in a two-day feast of local lit,” said Anna Leventhal, executive director of AELAQ. “The book fair is a great way to try out the hundred-mile literary diet. People are very interested in discovering and supporting local culture; for the holidays we want to offer Montrealers an opportunity to give the gift of a book from here.”

“This is a rare occasion for readers to see the impressive output of Quebec’s writers in English over the past year, all in one place, and to meet so many of those writers!” adds Lori Schubert executive director of the Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF).

This year’s special guest is lauded writer Kathleen Winter, author of Lost in September who was shortlisted for the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and QWF’s Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction.

“It’s a joyful, festive and friendly time where indie local publishers and authors share what we love most: story and community,” said Winter, who attended the last two fairs. “It feels impromptu and informal, yet you’ll learn a lot and leave feeling warm and connected.”

Winter will be on hand for a Festive Wine and Cheese where bookworms can meet the acclaimed author and raise a glass to local lit. Winter will be introduced by Montreal Gazette publisher Lucinda Chodan at the event which takes place Saturday, Nov. 25 from 4-6 p.m. Fair-goers will also toast the 50th anniversary of Tundra Books, publisher of Roch Carrier’s iconic The Hockey Sweater. Tundra was founded by Westmounter May Cutler, the first woman publisher of kids’ books in Canada. Birthday cake will be served!

Another festival highlight will be the Rapid-Fire Reading, Ricochet Writing, mRbilia edition that takes place on Sunday, Nov. 26, from 2-3 p.m. During this event, 20 writers celebrate 20 years of the Montreal Review of Books in a fast-paced reading and writing bonanza. Authors read for only two minutes each while the next writer adds a sentence or two to a collectively created text that will be read aloud. Writers representing 20 years of mRb history include Lorina Mapa, Alex Manley, Mary Soderstrom, Sherry Simon, Gillian Sze, Trevor Ferguson, Ariela Freedman, Christopher DiRaddo, John Kalbflesich, Karen Nesbitt, Colleen Curran and more.

Also on hand for this year’s fair will be jia qing wilson-yang, 2017 Lambda Literary Award winner for Transgender Fiction, Small Beauty; Sylvain Neuvel, sci-fi sensation slated to adapt the popular dystopian Black Mirror series into a book; Jocelyn Parr, shortlisted for a 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and the QWF’s Concordia University First Book Prize for Uncertain Weights and Measures; Bonnie Farmer, award-winning children’s author of Oscar Lives Next Door; and Bill Haugland, journalist, former news anchor, and Mystery/Crime author. They will be joined by Guillaume Morissette, Greg Santos, Marcela Huerta, Xue Yiwei, Peter Kirby, Robert Everett-Green, Connie Guzzo-McParland, Jonah Campbell, Mary Soderstrom, Licia Canton, Larissa Andrusyshyn, Carolyn Marie Souaid, Claire Holden Rothman, Cason Sharpe, and Lazer Lederhendler.

Local publishers at the event include McGill-Queen’s University Press, Linda Leith Publishing, Véhicule Press, Metatron, DC Books, Metonymy Press, Black Rose Books, Shoreline Press, Longbridge Books, Baraka Books/QC Fiction and more. “The Fair is exciting for us because we get to actually meet the readers who are interested in the books we publish,” commented Simon Dardick of Véhicule Press.

When asked why people should come to the Holiday Pop-Up Book Fair, author Alejandro Saravia said: “The fair presents new voices and ways to imagine Quebec. In a moment in history in which the winds of ethno-nationalism seem to blow harder in our province, literature and the exercise of imagination may be ways to find strength in diversity.”

“Books open your mind and change the world for the better,” adds writer Rahul Varma.  “Montreal has writers from all over the world; at the book fair you meet writers who show you what you already have inside you.”

“People still have the need for stories, for narratives that help describe their world, their time and place,” said writer Jacob Potashnik. “A book fair is a way to not only touch the paper tapestry but to meet the people who weave it. Book fairs at their best achieve a critical mass of information, excitement and exposure to new stories and ways of seeing.”

Author Branka Petrovic said: “People will not only be supporting local artists, they will be giving (themselves or someone they love) a unique, potentially life-transforming object that can rival the latest iPhone (and they’re less expensive!)… priceless, inexpensive, beautiful things that can be passed down for generations to come. It’s a little like going to the craft fair,” comments writer author Jack Hannan. “I find something that happily surprises me every year.”

As an added bonus, provincial sales tax doesn’t apply to books – considered essential goods – a decision made to encourage literacy and support book publishers in the province.

The 2017 Holiday Pop-Up Book Fair takes place on Saturday, Nov. 25 from noon till 6 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 26 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Le Café in the Monument National, 1182 Blvd St. Laurent. The site is wheelchair accessible and family friendly.

Network News October 2017

QCGN BUSY DOING HOMEWORK BEFORE AND AFTER “LA RENTRÉE”

By Jim Shea
QCGN President

I hope you had a relaxing summer and that “La Rentrée” has been productive. While some of us spent our summers on vacation at the beach or at the cottage, the QCGN office has been busy moving forward on an assortment of files. That included reacting to the mid-summer publication of the long awaited, but less than perfect, regulation governing the committee which advises the Health Minister on plans that guarantee access to health and social services to English-speaking Quebecers in their own language. We also prepared to advise the government on the creation of a new Secretariat for Quebec’s English-speaking community and planned two major advocacy activities this fall where QCGN and other community leaders will meet with MPs, Senators and MNAs to discuss the priorities and needs of our Community of Communities.

QCGN Mourns Loss of Gretta Chambers

In September, we were deeply saddened by the loss of an influential and beloved member of our extended family. Gretta Chambers passed away on Sept. 9 after a lifetime of remarkable achievements. Born of an English father and a French mother in Montreal in 1927, Chambers earned a degree in political science from McGill in 1947. She went on to become a prominent political commentator who was featured in The Gazette, on CBC Radio and on CTV television, then CFCF. Much of her work consisted of explaining French-speaking Quebec to the English-speaking community and building bridges between our Two Solitudes. In 1991, Chambers broke the glass ceiling to become the first female chancellor of McGill University. While serving as chancellor, she chaired a task force on English education in Quebec that led to the creation of the Advisory Board on English Education, which she was named the first chair. Her professional and volunteer commitments also included being chair of the board of directors of the McGill University Research Institute and the Montreal Children’s Hospital, and sitting on McGill’s Board of Governors. She was also actively involved in the Montreal Consortium for Human Rights Advocacy Training at McGill. During her lifetime, Chambers received numerous honours, including QCGN’s very own Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award in 2012. She was also named an Officer of the Ordre National du Quebec in 1993 and a Member of the Order of Canada in 1994 – to which she was later promoted to Companion in 2000. More recently she was named a Commander of the Ordre de Montréal in 2016. Chambers is survived by her brother, prominent philosopher Charles Taylor, five children including QCGN Vice-President Geoffrey Chambers, and eight wonderful grandchildren including Egan Chambers, a Vanier College music student who has been a summer intern at the QCGN for the past two summers. Family, friends and politicians who attended her funeral service last Saturday at the Church of St. Leon de Westmount included Quebec’s Higher Education Minister Hélène David, Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil, D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum, Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée, Federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and former Prime Minister Joe Clark. Read our statement, as well as coverage by The Gazette, the Globe and Mail, CTV Montreal, and CBC Quebec.

Progress on Secretariat

Back in June, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard announced plans to create a new secretariat dedicated to English-speaking Quebecers and opened the door to naming a minister responsible for our community. The creation of such a body is a longstanding priority of our Network which has long believed that our community’s concerns are not being transmitted through Quebec’s bureaucracy where our community is notoriously underrepresented. In fact, exactly four years before Premier Couillard’s announcement, our Network debated the issue and passed a unanimous resolution requesting formal representation within the government of Quebec to give voice to the policy-development interests of the English-speaking community. The impact of our absence was obvious during reforms to health care, which annihilated many of our institutions; and educational reforms, which threatened the constitutional language rights of English-speaking Quebecers. We have opened discussions with the Conseil Exécutif – essentially the Premier’s Ministry – on what a secretariat focused on English-speaking Quebec could look like. We explained the need for such a secretariat and how it could prevent unnecessary conflicts that arise when policies and programs are developed without an understanding of English-speaking Quebec and its institutions. Couillard’s officials have yet to develop a model for the secretariat, although they have studied similar mechanisms within other Canadian jurisdictions – an exercise the QCGN also undertook before developing a proposal that would be most effective for our community. We are also discussing funding for research and community capacity to effectively interface with government and the new secretariat.

Provincial Access Committee

As mentioned in my preamble, we are also active on the health front. In July, Health Minister Gaetan Barrette published a new regulation governing the Comité provincial pour la prestation des services de santé et des services sociaux en langue anglaise aka the Provincial Access Committee in La Gazette Officielle du Québec (French only).  With 45 days to react to the publication, the QCGN’s Standing Committee on Health and Social Services reached out to a small group of members and health and social service stakeholders to examine the regulation and its implications. Under the direction of Committee chair Eric Maldoff, the ad-hoc group worked closely with a lawyer remunerated by QCGN and Jeffery Hale to redraft the regulation to reflect many concerns. These included serious reservations about the composition of the group that would be proposing committee candidates to the Minister; the mandate of the access committee; as well as the role of its secretary.  Our proposed rewrite, which was endorsed by the Board of the Community Health and Social Service Network (CHSSN), strengthens the role of the community in selecting committee members and reinforces their obligation to maintain relations with Quebec’s English-speaking community. It also requires that the committee’s secretary have knowledge of legislative and administrative framework with regards to access to health and social services in English as well as a genuine understanding of the preoccupations of the English-speaking communities. One month later, we are awaiting news on the final regulation.

Bill 101 Turns 40

The adoption of Bill 101, aka the Charter of the French Language, that was embraced by Premier René Lévesque’s Parti Québécois government in August of 1977, marked a major milestone in language politics in Quebec. The law which resolved “to make French the language of Government and the Law, as well as the normal and everyday language of work, instruction, communication, commerce and business,” was commemorated by supporters and critics alike this past summer. It is important to note that Bill 101 was preceded in 1974 by Bill 22 and in 1969 by Bill 63. Championed by Liberal Premier Robert Bourassa, Bill 22 first made French the sole official language of Quebec. Introduced by the Union Nationale government of Jean-Jacques Bertrand, Bill 63 was a reaction to controversy and violence that erupted when the Catholic school board of Saint Leonard insisted that children of mostly Italian immigrants be required to go to French schools. Bill 101 with its assorted regulations and its enabling regulatory bodies, including the Office Québécois de la langue française (once baptized by English media as the language police or tongue troopers) have been the source of much angst in the English-speaking community. Amended more than a half-dozen times over the past four decades, the Charter was extended to include controversial provisions including controls on the use of English on commercial signs and restrictions on enrollment into English schools. Another amendment by PQ Language Minister Gérald Godin included in the Charter’s preamble that enforcing French as the official language of Quebec should be “respectful of the institutions of the English-speaking community of Québec, and respectful of the ethnic minorities, whose valuable contribution to the development of Québec it readily acknowledges.” In June of 2014, QCGN’s membership adopted a Statement of Principles that clearly spells out our Network’s support for the French-speaking majority and our respect for the French language. Then President Dan Lamoureux stated that “while QCGN accepts French as the official language of Quebec, we remain adamant that coercive measures will neither promote nor protect the French language.” Read QCGN’s op-ed signed by Vice-President Geoffrey Chambers and myself in The Gazette.

Parti Québécois and CEGEPs

While on the delicate subject of language, QCGN has strenuously objected to recent suggestions by Parti Québécois hardliners that funding to English CEGEPs be cut to curb the growing enrolment of French-speaking students in English junior colleges which has been on the increase in the past few years. The QCGN argues that coercive measures to prevent Quebec youth from becoming more bilingual are not good for the province. Read stories by The Gazette here and here, by the Canadian Press, and view coverage on CTV Your Morning, CBC Montreal here, here and here, on Global Montreal, as well as QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge’s live interview with CTV Montreal here.

Oops, Census Language Numbers Corrected

On Aug. 2, Statistics Canada released the language data from the 2016 Census. Soon after, anomalies were detected in the mother-tongue data for various regions in Quebec and an in-depth investigation was launched to identify their source. Noted demographer Jack Jedwab, executive vice-president for the Association for Canadian Studies, said he was not surprised to see a 10 per cent increase in the number of mother tongue Anglophones in Quebec over the past five years. He was flabbergasted when he dug deeper into where those people were said to be living, and found booms of English-speaking Quebecers outside of metropolitan Montreal. On Aug. 17, Statistics Canada updated the language data, after correcting computer program errors used to compile these statistics. An in-depth explanation is provided here. Statistical kerfuffle aside, the QCGN notes that while our numbers are not dropping, our community is experiencing decline in almost every other way – high unemployment, declining enrolment in our schools, loss of institutions and institutional governance and so on. Current and future growth in our community’s population is coming from immigration, and these people’s children cannot attend our schools. As a result, enrolment in our schools has fallen 60 per cent since 1971, compared to a 36 per cent drop in enrolment in the French system, and this gap will continue to increase. As the QCGN has always said, the threat to English-speaking Quebec is not numbers, and it is not language retention. It is about social, political, and economic inclusion and maintaining management and control of our institutions. That is why we are more focused on upcoming data releases on education, labour, and language of work that will help us understand if we have made socio-economic progress since the 2011 Census.  While on the subject of the census, note that Statistics Canada has changed the way it calculates ‘corrected mother-tongue’ figures in this Census. People who declared more than one mother tongue or more than one language spoken most often at home are included in more than one category. Therefore, the sum of the categories is greater than the total population. Previously, multiple declarations were evenly distributed between French and English mother tongue groups in the corrected figures. The impact of this change is an increase in the statistical size of French and English mother-tongue populations. Therefore, care must be taken when doing longitudinal analysis of mother-tongue data between censuses. Read coverage in The Gazette, from Presse Canadienne, in Le Devoir on CBC Montreal here, here and here, on CTV Montreal here, and on Global Montreal here. Also read opinion pieces by William Johnson here and here.

In September, Statistics Canada released household income data from the 2016 Census. Although data from the public release was not cross-tabulated to official language variables, the QCGN was able to obtain tables that demonstrate the economic challenges that continue to face our community, including incomes that are more than $3,000 lower than the provincial median. We are negotiating with Statistics Canada to improve the usability of last week’s income data, which was derived from the short-form Census, and the more in-depth long-form data, which will be released in October.

Our Languages Blog

The Language Portal of Canada, the Canadian reference for language, has officially launched its Our Languages blog which aims to provide a meeting place where Canadians can come together to discuss language-related topics, learn more about community initiatives and celebrate their successes with others. Over the coming weeks, the Language Portal will publish posts on difficult points of language, language-related news and events in Canada, English and French language learning, and much more! To stay in the loop, subscribe to their email notification service and follow them on social media. In addition, feel free to comment on blog posts and share them with your network. Additionally, if you would you like to share your passion for language and become a guest blogger contact the Language Portal of Canada team.

FIVE INSPIRING COMMUNITY LEADERS TO BE HONOURED BY QCGN

Remarkable members of the English-speaking community will be honoured in late October for their singular contributions and outstanding community leadership, the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) announced Wednesday. Clifford Lincoln, Sid Stevens and Earl De La Perralle, as well as James Carter have been named winners of QCGN’s ninth annual Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award. In addition, Claudia Di Iorio has been chosen for the third annual Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award.

“In their individual ways, and in far different fields of endeavour, our Community Award winners have proven to be extraordinary leaders who have made exceptional contributions to our Community of Communities,” QCGN President James Shea said. “All have been visionaries, dedicated to their communities and their causes. They not only inspire social change—they embody it through their actions and their commitment”

A passionate and principled advocate for fairness, Clifford Lincoln is a bridge-builder and a consensus maker. He has been an instrumental and inspiring leader, within the ranks of federal and provincial cabinets and far beyond. Driven by his unerring sense of justice, and adept at balancing the needs and aspirations of differing communities, he has made and continues to make a real and lasting difference in such areas as English-language rights; the environment; education; public transit; health and social services; and the rights of the intellectually handicapped.

Since the tender ages of 13 and nine, co-awardees Sid Stevens and Earl De La Perralle have nurtured, built, and led Sun Youth Organization. This unique Montreal community group has, since 1954, developed street-level programs to meet an array of serious and often underserved community needs. These range from sports activities and summer camp for at-risk and other youth to a year-round food bank and other significant support work. The best testimony to this group’s effectiveness is the number of individuals who return to Sun Youth as adult volunteers, to give back of themselves after having received a Sun Youth helping hand during their own youth.

James Carter has been a tireless and exceptionally effective advocate for improved access to health and social services in English. He remains a community pillar, thanks to the determination, vision and negotiating skills he honed over the years. His patience has also proven a hallmark; as a result, his long-term mentoring has exerted quiet, positive influence through English-speaking communities right across Quebec. He strategically harnesses the talent and dedication of individuals within diverse community organizations. With steady guidance, he quietly empowers many to successfully tackle and succeed at leadership roles.

Claudia Di Iorio is a brilliant, resilient and courageous young woman who overcame adversity to become a highly visible and influential proponent for safe driving. Beginning in 2010, during the summer of her 16th birthday, she battled back from devastating injuries caused by an impaired driver. A spokesperson for the Cool Taxi coupon initiative since 2012, she participates in numerous school presentations, documentaries and media interviews and also speaks for the Fondation Neuro-Trauma Marie-Robert. Recognizing her extraordinary road-safety advocacy and inspirational influence, the Quebec government nominated her to the Board of Directors of Quebec’s automobile insurance board, the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ). She thus became the youngest member in Quebec history of the board of directors of a crown corporation.

The Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award honours individuals who have gone above and beyond in contributing to the vitality and reputation of the English-speaking community and who have built bridges of understanding between Quebecers of different backgrounds. The Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award was created in 2015 by QCGN, the Fondation Notre Home Foundation and CBC Quebec to recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements of English-speaking Quebecers under the age of 30.

Winners have been invited to receive their awards at a community celebration taking place Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017, at Montreal’s prestigious St-James Club. Co-sponsored by the Fondation Notre Home Foundation, the evening will be emceed by CTV Montreal lead anchor Mutsumi Takahashi, who was recently honoured with a Radio Television and Digital News Association (RTDNA Canada) lifetime achievement award for more than three decades of journalistic excellence. Details and tickets at https://qcgn.ca/community-awards/

BISHOP’S FORUM YOUTH CONVEYS A SENSE THAT CHANGE IS POSSIBLE FOR QUEBEC 

 

By Rita Legault
QCGN Director of Communications

Awesome, phenomenal, empowering – these are the superlatives youths used to describe their experience at the inaugural Bishop’s Forum, a week-long conference where young English-speaking Quebecers engaged in deep discussions about Quebec society and their role in seeking change.

From Aug. 13 – 18, some 50 young leaders from across the province converged on the campus of Bishop’s University in Lennoxville where they got to engage directly with political, community and business leaders who have helped shape this province.

Politicians on the impressive roster of speakers included former Premier Jean Charest, newly minted Quebec Solidaire MNA Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Senator Joan Fraser, Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, Indigenous MP and activist Roméo Saganash and Richmond MNA Karine Vallières, the Parliamentary Youth Secretary to Premier Philippe Couillard.

Business, community leaders included filmmaker co-founder and CEO of CoPower David Berliner, Lufa Farms co-founder Lauran Rathmell, Quebec filmmaker Kevin Tierney, Ricochet Media founder Ethan Cox, and international human rights lawyer Pearl Eliadis.

“Having access to leaders of this calibre was an opportunity I would never have had had I not participated in the Bishop’s Forum,” said North Hatley resident Chad Bean, a Carleton University graduate who just applied to McGill Law School. “I also got a chance to connect with some really interesting students from across the province.”

“Meeting leaders who have served the community at all levels, from former Premier Jean Charest to our current elected officials, as well as movers and shakers in business and community organizations, showed me and my fellow Forumers that it is possible for English-speaking Quebecers to have a seat at the decision-making tables,” said Michael Forian of Concordia University.

Marissa Matthews, who has just moved from Grosse Ile in the Magdalen Islands to study at Champlain College in Lennoxville, said the Forum was a great experience that helped her come out of her shell. “It was an eye-opening experience to just come here and listen to what these people had to say… how as a society we can change things for the better.”

“The Forum was a wonderful opportunity for young people to connect to their identity as Quebecers and as leaders and to get to know each other and discover their shared vision for the province,” said Dr. Heather Lawford, associate director of the Bishop’s Forum who also coached one of the groups. “As coaches and adult supports, we were privileged to witness the remarkable talents, insights and passions of these young citizens. It was an unforgettable experience!”

In between meetings with prominent leaders, youths met in six working groups to prepare presentations to a mock parliamentary commission on the change they want to see in their communities and in their province. On the final day of the forum, the groups presented a variety of innovative policy suggestions on topics from Indigenous rights to linguistic rights, diversity and immigration to health care and mental health, as well as sustainability and climate change.

Commissioners, who were impressed with youth presentation, included Marie-Claude Bibeau, Federal Minister of International Development and La Francophonie; Rita de Santis, Quebec Minister responsible for Access to Information and the Reform of Democratic Institutions; Russell Copeman, Borough Mayor of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace; Marlene Jennings, former Member of Parliament; Jim Shea, President of the Quebec Community Groups Network; as well as Bishop’s Principal Michael Goldbloom.

“I hope that youth left here feeling more confident that they have the tools, the ability, and the determination to make effective changes in society,” said Goldbloom, chair of the Bishop’s Forum. “I, for one, am convinced that our youth are going to make a profound difference.”

“Bishop’s Forumers are not just the future of our community and our province, they are its present,” said Bishop’s Forum director James Hughes, noting that it was exciting to see so many youths interested in the future of Quebec’s English-speaking community.

“The Bishop’s Forum was clearly an unhyphenated success in terms of giving participants access to the people who have shaped and are shaping the province thereby conveying a true sense of the change that is possible in Quebec”, he said. “There is no question this new conference for English speaking youth is off to a terrific start.”

For more on the Bishop’s Forum, listen to the feature by CBC Sherbrooke reporter Alison Brunette, listen to an interview with James Hughes on Quebec AM’s Marika Wheeler, and read the wrap up feature in The Record.

The Bishop’s Forum has funding for three consecutive years and any member of the English-speaking community aged 18 to 24 are eligible to participate. More information on the Bishop’s Forum can be found at www.bishopsforum.ubishops.ca

WEBSITE SUPPORTS ENGLISH-SPEAKING PATIENTS LEAVING HOME FOR MEDICAL SERVICES

Submitted by the Community Health and Social Service Network

Several members of the Community Health and Social Services Network have developed a website (travel4health.ca) to provide information and support to English-speaking patients who must travel away from home for medical services.

Patients from the eastern regions of Quebec (Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Bas-St-Laurent, Côte-Nord) must often travel to larger centres—such as Quebec City, Rimouski, Sept-Îles and elsewhere— for specialized medical services that are unavailable in their regions.

The regional English-speaking community organizations realized that this can be a difficult experience for English speakers, some of whom are unfamiliar with these larger centres and their hospitals, and may be not sufficiently bilingual to communicate effectively when it comes to medical vocabulary and when under stress.

To better document the situation, community-based action research was carried out from 2015 to 2017, through surveys, focus groups and individual interviews. The results of this study pointed to the need for information to help patients and their loved ones prepare for their trip and navigate the cities and their hospitals. That information has been gathered together on the website, and hard-copy booklets have also been printed for the organizations to hand out to those who prefer to have a paper copy. Those “toolkits” can also be downloaded from the website and printed, if desired.

The information is organized in the following categories: preparing for your trip, local services and support (by region of departure: Lower North Shore, North Shore, Lower Saint-Lawrence, Magdalen Islands, Gaspé Coast), information for each destination (by hospital and city: Quebec City, Rimouski, Sept-Îles + Baie-Comeau, Chicoutimi, Chandler, Blanc-Sablon), information and advice for the stay at the hospital, information and advice before returning home, cost and refunds, and downloads.

As this network works closely with Francophone service providers who may also benefit from this source of centralized information, the website is available in both English and French, as are the booklets (toolkits). In addition, many patients have French-speaking family members who will also be able to find the relevant information for their loved one.

It is hoped that this source of information will improve the experience for “travelling 4 health” away from home for both English speakers and the general population of Quebec’s eastern regions.

If you would like more information, please contact any of the following persons:

Quebec City: Jennifer Johnson, Executive Director, CHSSN at (418) 684-2289, ext. 223, jjohnson@chssn.org

New Carlisle: Cathy Brown, Executive Director, CASA (Committee for Anglophone Social Action) at (418) 752-5995, casa75@globetrotter.net

Gaspé Town: Jessica Synnott, Executive Director, Vision Gaspé Percé Now, at 418-368-3212, j.synnott@vgpn.ca

Grosse-Ile: Helena Burke, Executive Director, CAMI (Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders) at (418) 985-2116 ext. 1, helena@micami.ca

Baie-Comeau: Jody Lessard, Executive Director, North Shore Community Association (NSCA) at (418) 296-1545, nsca@quebecnorthshore.org

Saint Paul’s River: Kim Buffitt, Director of Programing, Coaster’s Association, at (418) 379-2006, hssnpi@globetrotter.net

Métis-sur-mer: Melanie Leblanc, Executive Director, Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence (HLSL) at (418) 740-3339, mleblanc@heritagelsl.ca

CAMI CELEBRATES 30 YEARS AND COMMEMORATES 125TH ANNIVERSARY OF GROSSE ÎLE

The Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders (CAMI) is pleased with the overall success of community celebrations that took place in July to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Anglophone municipality of Grosse Île, the centennial of the St. Peter’s-by-the-Sea church building, and the 30th anniversary of CAMI.

The week began on Monday, July 24th with the opening ceremony and a community picnic at the Grosse Île Recreational Site, which included all kinds of fun activities for the young and young at heart.

On Tuesday, we commemorated the centennial of Old Harry’s St-Peter’s-by-the-Sea church building. Built in 1916, the church was construction of wood from a shipwreck. The entrance doors, called “Gates to Infinity,” are a memorial to Aaron Clarke, a resident of Old-Harry, who was swept out to sea when he tried to rescue some swimmers. The church has been deconsecrated in 2014.

We also celebrated the building’s new vocation and the unveiling of the “A People of the Sea” exhibit. Project coordinator, Nancy Ellen Clark, said the idea was self-imposed, as the building itself was constructed with salvaged lumber. The permanent exhibit presents more than 120 Magdalen Islanders, both Anglophone and Francophone, who have perished by the waters, including shipwrecks.

Its inauguration launched the official celebration day for the 125th anniversary of the Municipality of Grosse-Île, which continued with a ceremony attended by many citizens, visitors and dignitaries, including the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada, Ghislaine Saikaley (centre in above photo).

Visitors also include a number of representatives of the QCGN organizations including Sharleen Sullivan of Neighbours Regional Association of Rouyn-Noranda and Cathy Brown of the Committee for Anglophone Social Action  (CASA) in the Gaspé. They are pictured above with CAMI’s Executive Director Helena Burke, Danielle Azoulay of Canadian Heritage, and Charles Taker a native from the Magdalen Islands who now works for the Commissioner’s Office. The 30th Mayor of Grosse-Île, Rose-Elmonde Clarke, was pleased with the public’s participation.

“A community tour of the village by bus, a beach party and a host of other activities were planned and delivered by the organizing committee, and supported by many volunteers,” said Burke, who thanked staff and volunteers for their commitment in bringing CAMI to where it is today.

On Thursday, Burke, along with the Saikaley, National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier, the MP for Gaspésie—Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, and Îles-de-la-Madeleine MNA Germain Chevarie visited Entry Island which is currently in the process of implementing a revitalization project and having dignitaries from both the federal and provincial government visit the island was a great success. Visits to the community garden, museum, church, and the school were all part of the days’ itinerary.

The festivities ended on Saturday, July 29 with a closing ceremony and a dance at the Grosse Île Community Centre.

A non-profit organization, CAMI has been working in the English-speaking community of the Magdalen Islands since 1987. CAMI works for the community, promoting the rights of Anglophone Magdalen Islanders and ensures that English speakers benefit from the various available programs, across an array of sectors, and that English speakers benefit from these programs in their own language. Health, education, language, culture and heritage are all part of CAMI’s mandate, a mandate that will continue to guide the organization through the years to come.

CANADIAN PARENTS FOR FRENCH TURNS 40

By Marla Williams

CPF-Quebec Coordinator

It is hard to remember a time when French Immersion was not a household name in Canada. Like everything, however, it has an origin. In this case, we need to venture back 51 years to Saint-Lambert, on Montreal’s South Shore, where a dedicated group of English-speaking parents meticulously and tirelessly planned, collaborated, and fought to establish such a program for their children.

In the decade that followed, fledgling French as a second language (FLS) programs cropped up throughout the country in places such as Toronto, Ottawa, Coquitlam B.C., and Sackville N.B., as an increasing number of parents wanted to provide their children with the gift of two languages. Missing, though, was a consistent voice from coast to coast.

Enter Keith Spicer, Canada’s first Commissioner of Official Languages. Eager to promote bilingualism among Canadian youth, Spicer gathered enough money together to organize a national conference entitled Parents’ Conference on French Language and Exchange Opportunities, held in Ottawa in March 1977. Parents were finally able to come together from across the country to discuss how to advance their goals and by the conference’s end, Canadian Parents for French (CPF), the now well-established volunteer-based advocacy group, was founded.

CPF volunteers quickly began advocating for more French Immersion programs throughout the country. Within 10 years, they accomplished many important achievements and created many resources that were indispensable to the sustainability of the French language in Canada, such as:

  • the first comprehensive overview for parents of federal and provincial funding opportunities for FSL education;
  • the first Canadian directory of exchange programs, summer camps, and summer language classes;
  • a directory of French Immersion programs throughout the country; and
  • the first exhaustive Bibliography of Articles and Books on Bilingualism in Education.

CPF also published a book full of articles by researchers, parents and educators entitled So You Want Your Child to Learn French! This collection was the first to offer information to parents who wanted their children to learn French. Several CPF chapters also started actively creating FSL activities for their communities and the Concours d’art oratoire, one of CPF’s most important initiatives, began in 1985.

These concerted efforts on a national scale led to many successes and skyrocketing French immersion numbers. French immersion enrolment grew by about 650 per cent in the decades following the organization’s creation. Some 320,000 students were registered in such programs by the end of the ’90s.

40 years later…

2017 marks a significant year in the history of Canadian Parents for French as we are celebrating our 40th anniversary. Looking back on the past four decades, it is clear there is much to be proud of. Now a proactive national network with 10 branch offices and some 150 chapters in communities coast to coast, CPF is widely recognized as the national network of volunteers which values French as an integral part of Canada and which is dedicated to the promotion and creation of French as a second language learning opportunities for young Canadians.

To this day, the volunteers and staff at CPF continue to work with all levels of government and society to ensure that French Immersion retains its momentum and that the quality of Core French programs is up to par. CPF is also striving to improve access to FSL programs across the country and is working toward ensuring that academically challenged students have equal opportunities to participate and flourish in these programs. CPF volunteers continue to dedicate hundreds of hours throughout Canada to provide students with opportunities to practice their French. You can even find Carnaval and Cabane à sucre activities in some remote Canadian towns!

During this important year, we are celebrating the many people who have come together to promote French opportunities for Canadian youth over the past 40 years. To view video stories and a timeline of important milestones please visit: http://www.cpfnationallegacy.ca/.

In honour of CPF’s 40th anniversary, CPF has launched the 2017 donor campaign: $40 for 40 Years of CPF Success! If you would like to pledge $40 to support linguistic duality and FSL learning opportunities for youth across Canada, please visit: https://cpf.ca/en/donate/.

EASTERN TOWNSHIPS HERITAGE FAIR COMING UP

It stands to reason that the first horseless steam powered car in Canada and the first car accident occurred in the same village.

Find out where in the Eastern Townships these firsts and other notable transportation milestones occurred at the upcoming Eastern Townships Heritage Fair, which is being organized by the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network, in partnership with Townshippers’ Association.

Historical societies and museums from all across the Eastern Townships will gather at the Eaton Corner Museum on Friday, October 13, 2017, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. to share their knowledge of history and genealogy.

Come and meet heritage keepers who can give you tips on protecting your old photographs, guide you in family ancestry projects and let you know all about the rich history of the Townships.

Also on hand will be well-known fiddler Terry Howel, and local author Nick Fonda will sign copies of his new book Richmond Now and Then: An Anecdotal History.

Both QAHN and Townshippers’ will be onsite with information and membership opportunities, so come and say hello and find out more about your local history.

“Autumn is the season for exploring,” said Matthew Farfan, Executive Director of QAHN. “What a glorious time of year to rediscover the Eastern Townships’ history and culture!”

Join the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network and Townshippers’ Association for an afternoon of discovery and exchange at the Eaton Corner Museum which is located at 374 Route 253 in Cookshire-Eaton. Admission is free. For more information, please call 819 564-9595 or visit the QAHN website.

Network News July 2017

QCGN CELEBRATES NEW OPENNESS OF QUEBEC GOVERNMENT TO ENGLISH-SPEAKING QUEBECERS

By Jim Shea
QCGN President

In June, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard announced he is creating a new secretariat dedicated to English-speaking Quebecers. The office, which will be part of the premier’s executive council, will allow our community to voice its concerns at the highest levels of government.

The premier, who has been adamantly opposed to naming a minister responsible for English-speaking Quebecers, said he is also reconsidering that idea.

“I’m not happy that my fellow Quebecers who speak English believe that they’re not always treated as first-class Quebecers, and are taken for granted,” the premier told reporters as the National Assembly prepared to break for the summer. “I’m not happy about this. It makes me sad. I want this to stop.”

An ongoing focus of the QCGN has been the fact that our community’s concerns were not being transmitted through Quebec’s bureaucracy where our community is notoriously underrepresented. The impact of our absence was obvious during recent reforms to health care, which annihilated many of our institutions; and educational reforms, which threatened the constitutional language rights of English-speaking Quebecers.

Four years ago during our annual general meeting, the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) had a debate about this issue and passed a unanimous resolution requesting formal representation within the government of Quebec to give voice to the policy-development interests of the English-speaking community. We are very pleased to see movement on this important issue and we have offered our full support and collaboration for the implementation of an effective structure which, we noted, is an important first step towards a more inclusive Quebec. We also hoped this will help unblock the longstanding bottleneck in the hiring and advancement of English-speaking Quebecers in the provincial civil-service.

Read our press release as well as coverage by The GazetteCTV Montreal, and view an interview of QCGN vice-president Geoffrey Chambers with CTV’s Tara Schwartz.

QCGN is currently looking at policies, programs, legislation and regulation in other provinces that have secretariats and other such structures to support their minority language communities. We will be offering concrete suggestions on how the premier can move forward quickly and effectively to make this a reality.

Quebec Worried About Isolated Anglos

A week earlier, a letter by Couillard’s Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Fournier to federal Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly was leaked to the media. In the reply to a query by Minister Joly about Official Language minority communities, Fournier, who’s also responsible for the Francophonie, said the government is concerned about the isolation of English-speaking communities outside of Montreal.

The letter, written after QCGN offered input to Fournier, expressed concerns about the vitality of those English-speaking communities, citing their shrinking demographic weight, their aging populations and their isolation.

The reality is that we’re losing control over some of the institutions that we built and maintained over generations and we want Quebec to help us bring in more federal money earmarked for the support of Official Language Minority Communities like ours.

Read coverage in The GazetteCTV MontrealCJAD, and Radio Canada.

QCGN Endorses Premier’s Plan to Open Dialogue with Canada

The QCGN has supported the goal of Premier Philippe Couillard’s proposal to open a constructive dialogue with the rest of Canada, welcoming his inclusive vision of Quebec that is set out in Quebecers, Our Way of Being Canadian.

Published a few weeks before the back-to-back celebrations of la Fête Nationale and Canada’s 150th Anniversary, the Policy on Québec Affirmation and Canadian Relationsis receptive towards the English community— one with “deep roots in Quebec” and is an integral part of the “Quebec nation.”

This initiative launched by Premier Couillard is an important but preliminary step in what will inevitably be a complicated, challenging journey aimed at achieving consensus.

QCGN also agrees with the conclusion of The Gazette’s Fête Nationale editorial entitled “Anglos, our way of being Quebecers” (June 23, 2017), which cautiously applauds the government’s more inclusive tone: “For any minority, maintaining one’s identity and playing a full role in the larger society are dual objectives, and they need not conflict. Quebec anglophones increasingly are integrating with the majority culture, and our contributions — historic and ongoing — are evident at every turn. At the same time, defending the interests and ensuring the vitality of this community remain essential.”

QCGN Concerned About Future of MUHC

Over the past two months, the QCGN has expressed concerns about a growing crisis at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in Montreal. On May 8, QCGN Vice-President Geoffrey Chambers and I signed an op-ed in The Gazette saying the super hospital can and must do better for our community and that it must be provided with all the tools it needs to flourish.

This week, ten independent members of the MUHC Board, who have been publicly squabbling with Health Minister Gaetan Barrette, resigned en masse leaving the way open for new leadership. We hope attention will now be focussed on the underlying issues rather than raising anxiety in the community and the QCGN has offered its help.

The QCGN shares the frustrations of MUHC patients and staff and is concerned about this leading world-class institution which, as we have pointed out many times, serves all Quebecers, English and French. As Geoffrey and I stated in our op-ed, we must act now to ensure the MUHC has a first-class future.

recent report in The Gazette overstated our influence in the Minister’s office. We were however pleased with the follow-up story which explains to the community what the QCGN is and enumerates some of our recent positions.

In a number of media interviews, we stated that the QCGN, and more specifically our Health and Social Services Committee, have been meeting with the Minister and the Ministry since Bill 10, the government’s health care reform bill, was introduced in the fall of 2014 and adopted in the spring of 2015. Since then we have been advocating forcefully to ensure guarantees made to Quebec’s English-speaking community are realized.

Recent discussions have centered around ensuring advisory committees, that are responsible for the preservation of the cultural, historic, linguistic, and local characteristics, are put into place in all of our merged institutions. We also pressed for and obtained a new regulation on the provincial access committee responsible for advising the Minister on regional access plans that guarantee services to English-speaking Quebecers in their own language. That regulation was passed by Cabinet last week.

Over the coming days and weeks we will continue to advocate with the Health Minister and Ministry as well as other provincial and federal ministries and departments for the priorities and needs of Quebec’s English-speaking minority community. For all coverage of the QCGN, follow the news blog on the QCGN website at www.qcgn.ca

Selection of Commissioner Must Be More Inclusive

From the middle of May until early June much of QCGN’s attention was focused on the appointment process for a Commissioner of Official Languages to replace Graham Fraserwho left office in mid-December. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that former Ontario Liberal Cabinet Minister Madeleine Meilleur had been appointed to the post in mid-May.

From the outset, QCGN expressed concerns about Meilleur’s lack of knowledge about and commitment to the concerns of English-speaking Quebecers and we invited her to come to Quebec and get to know our community. Meanwhile Meilleur’s nomination hit roadblocks in the House of Commons and the Senate where Parliamentarians expressed concerns about her unfamiliarity with Canada’s English minority communities in Quebec as well as her partisan past and links with the Federal Liberal Party. Faced with mounting controversy, Meilleur withdrew her name from consideration in early June.

Moments before she withdrew, the QCGN joined a growing list of representatives of minority language groups that submitted complaints to the Commissioner of Official Languages regarding the process used by the government to nominate Meilleur. The basis of our complaint was that the Governor in Council had failed to properly consult “the leader of every recognized party in the Senate and House of Commons” as required by the Official Languages Act. We were informed by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages that our complaint will not be investigated because no appointment took place, but we are on record demanding that the process to select Canada’s next Commissioner of Official Languages include consultation with our community.

Throughout the debate, and in the aftermath of her resignation, QCGN and groups representing minority language francophone communities demanded a more open, transparent and inclusive process that seeks informed opinions from all interested parties to choose a Commissioner of Official Languages. We noted that as the end clients of the commissioner’s services it makes sense to consult us and not just representatives of government and the civil service – the two groups the commissioner is called upon to watch over and call to account.

QCGN looks forward to the selection of a new commissioner who will prove to be a non-partisan champion for all official language minority communities across Canada. In the meantime, the mandate of Interim Commissioner Ghislaine Saikaley has been extended. Consult our press releases here and here and listen to QCGN vice-president Geoffrey Chambers’s interview with Susan Campbell of Quebec AM.

QCGN Concerned About Shrinking Media

The QCGN is concerned about the decline in media covering our community and has called on the federal government, which has been studying the issue for more than a year, to come up with some effective solutions, fast. It is also calling on the CRTC to ensure that Bell Media and other broadcasters respect both the letter and the spirit of their broadcasting licence conditions.

Broadcasting giant Bell Media, which eliminated CJAD’s National Assembly news bureau in late 2015, recently announced its decision to kill local sportscasts on CTV Montreal and local sportscasting across the country. (Read our press release.) Other newspapers and broadcast media covering our communities are cutting back and closing.

More than a year ago, the QCGN prepared and submitted a brief entitled Nurturing Media Vitality in Quebec’s English-speaking Minority Communities which discussed the challenge of English-speaking Quebecers to find ways to foster, support and encourage quality media content that is local and relevant even as news consumers turn evermore to digital sources.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, which oversaw the hearings, issued its final report entitled Disruption and Churning in Canada’s Media Landscape in July. Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly said last week she will unveil the Canadian media strategy in September.

Key to our official language minority community would be measures to support our endangered regional and local media that provide the kind of reliable and accountable community news coverage that cannot come from any other source.

QCGN AGM Held on June 15-16

As Premier Couillard was announcing momentous news for our community, the QCGN’s annual meeting kicked off Thursday, June 15, with professional development sessions for the staff and boards of our organizations and stakeholders as well as a “speed dating” event that allowed community participants to meet with representatives of various federal departments and agencies to discuss opportunities for funding and support.

On Friday June 16, we reconvened for a series of policy discussions on issues of importance to Quebec’s English-speaking communities, and applauded the premier’s commitment to creating space for our community at the highest level of Quebec’s government. Discussions ensued on Projections and the Impact on the English-speaking Community of Quebec by Jean-Pierre Corbeil of Statistics Canada; Treasury Board’s Review of the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulationled by Cartsen Quell of Treasury Board Secretariat and the Development of Composite Indicators for Official Language Minority Community Vitality by William Floch, who is retiring from Canadian Heritage. There was also a discussion on the renewal of our Community Development Plan led by QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge. Consult all the presentations.

On Friday afternoon members acclaimed a new board of directors (see photo below) and passed a resolution supporting access to broadband access in rural and isolated communities (see CRTC story below).

Meet Our New Board of Directors

From left to right: Geoffrey Chambers (Vice-president), Juan-Carlos Quintana, Clarence Bayne, Stella Kennedy, Eric Maldoff, Mary-Ellen Beaulieu, James Shea (President), Eva Ludvig, Walter Duszara (Secretary), Elise Moser, Joe Rabinovitch (Treasurer), and Linton Garner. Missing from photo: Kevin Dobie and James Hughes.

QCGN Annual Report Goes Digital

The QCGN released its 2016-2017 Annual Report in time for the annual general meeting. For the first time, it is a fully digital report with links to lots of information and moving parts that provide additional content and photos. A limited number of copies were printed to share with stakeholders. The digital report has been posted on the website and we encourage you to take a look to better understand the overarching cross-regional and cross-sectoral work of the QCGN and its advocacy role for our community of communities.

COMMUNITY ALIGNED WITH SIX STRATEGIC PRIORITIES

By Walter Duszara
Chair of the Priorities Setting Steering Committee

In September 2011, the Quebec Community Groups Networks launched the Strategic Priorities Forum, a five-year process to identify common priorities ensuring a vital and sustainable future for Quebec’s English-speaking communities and to collectively pursue strategies to achieve community goals.

The QCGN established the Priority Setting Steering Committee (PSSC), a permanent committee of QCGN’s board of directors to assist the community with the governance of the Strategic Priorities Forum. The PSSC’s purpose it is to collect, analyze, prioritize and articulate the common needs, priorities and issues of the community and to communicate its findings to partners and stakeholders including government.

In 2011-2012, community groups, individuals and institutions from Quebec’s English-speaking community participated in a consultative process to determine common priorities. In March of 2012, the process culminated in a Community Priority Setting Conference where community leaders achieved consensus on six evolving common development priorities that would contribute to ensuring a vital and sustainable future for the English-speaking Communities of Quebec, namely: Access to Services in English; Community Building; Economic Prosperity; Identity and Renewal; Leadership and Representation, and; Strong Institutions.

Every year the PSSC conducts a survey to see how organizations are linking to the six over-arching priorities; to determine how the community benefitted from and attached to these priorities; and to identify the program and project priorities for the coming year. Survey results provide a portrait of the activities undertaken in the current fiscal year, identify needs that are underserved and sectors of service that are under-developed, and, identify the plans to address these needs.

There remains a high degree of alignment between the six strategic priorities and the vision, mission and mandate of organizations. All six priorities are addressed in substantive ways in the activities offered in 2016-2017.

Community Building rated highest among priorities. Community Building and Leadership and Representation were considered to be a “very important” or “important” priority by all respondents.

Responses were broadly based and statistically significant: Access to Services (90 per cent); Community Building (100 per cent); Economic Prosperity (66 per cent); Identity and Renewal (83 per cent); Leadership and Representation (100 per cent) and Strong Institutions (95 per cent). Three organizations found Economic Prosperity “Not Very Important.” Again, these results represent a strong and unequivocal validation of the relevance, importance, and utility of the six strategic priorities and the alignment of community groups with them.

Community Building and Leadership and Representation projects and activities represent the greatest investment of effort and resources. Activities related to Access to Services and Identity and Renewal represent the next most important group, followed by Strong Institutions and Economic Prosperity.

Planning for fiscal year 2018-2019 reflects a continued engagement in projects and activities offered in 2017-2018. Concern is evident for people experiencing isolation and poverty, and for those young and old with special needs, with a lack of autonomy, lack of education and lack of opportunity.

Central to planning and project development efforts is assuring access to continued and proven services and programs. The multiplicity of needs of diverse English-speaking communities in Quebec represents a persistent challenge. Many organizations raised concerns related to funding stability and adequacy, both current and future. Current capacity is stretched.

There is a broadly-based concern that the youth population (White, Black, Immigrant, Indigenous and Inuit) is underserved. There is concern for access to English services in the general health and mental health, social services and education sectors, for people of all ages. The needs of recent arrivals, youth and young families with children in particular, are of concern. There is also concern for adequate support services for seniors as well as for caregivers.

The retention and attraction of young Anglophones in the regions is of vital importance.  Employment opportunities, in particular for youth, are limited and weigh heavily as concerns for the future vitality of our communities. New arrivals seeking services in English represent a new and growing challenge.

The survey indicated limited access to English-language social and cultural activities in certain regions. There is concern with regards to funding shortfalls, not only for the development of new services but also for the maintenance of existing operations for human resources, facilities, and equipment.

The concerns related to funding from traditional sources are clearly in evidence. These have also been expressed in informal exchanges with various groups throughout the year. In response to the financial constraints felt by many organizations there has been an observed tendency to increased partnerships as well as an engagement with non-traditional funding sources. For collective action to develop further, project funding from traditional sources should acknowledge these trends and encourage and support their development.

Interdepartmental and intradepartmental as well as intergovernmental cooperation continues to be needed to address evidenced gaps in policies and services. There is also a need for greater support for English-speaking community organizations from the provincial government.

ELAN WANTS TO ENSURE THAT REGIONAL ENGLISH COMMUNITIES PROFIT FROM BROADBAND FUND

By Irwin Block

English-speaking Quebecers living in rural and isolated communities are in dire need of high-speed internet access and the CRTC, Canada’s telecom regulator, should ensure that it reaches them.

This is the essential position of the English Language Arts Network (ELAN) in its request to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to testify on expanding its broadband funding regime. Hearings are to be held in the fall.

At a meeting in late March, the CRTC informed ELAN that Telecom Regulatory Policy 2016-496 adds broadband internet access service – both fixed and mobile – to the list of basic telecommunications services that Canadians receive.

“We believe that the vitality, and even the survival of the rural and isolated official language minority communities, depends on prioritizing their communications needs,” ELAN executive director Guy Rodgers, wrote the CRTC. ELAN represents more than 6,000 English-speaking media, visual, theatre and other artists in Quebec and intervenes on broadcasting issues with and on behalf of the Quebec Community Groups Network, the voice of one million English speakers in the province.

The goal, as set out by the group, is to ensure that by 2021, 90 per cent of English-speaking communities in outlying areas will have access to broadband services at 50 Megabits per second, considered fast internet.

The CRTC has declared high-speed internet access is a basic service for all of Canada. The money to extend it is available as part of a new broadband fund of up to $750 million over five years. The CRTC has said it planned to distribute $100 million in the first year, increasing the amount by $25 million annually to up to $200 million.

Getting high-speed internet to outlying areas where English speakers reside reflects the Official Languages Act, which commits Ottawa to “enhancing the vitality of the English and French linguistic minority communities, and supporting and assisting their development,” Rodgers noted.

“We want this to be a condition of licence,” Rodgers said in an interview. “Whoever receives money for high-speed internet upgrade would be obliged to consult with the English-speaking community and provide adequate service for them as well.”

Rural and isolated communities “need those services even more than denser population centres,” he said.

According to Census Canada figures cited by the QCGN, rural Quebec communities with fewer than 10,000 residents total 2.9 million, and of that 6.5 per cent, or 189,143, have English as their first official language spoken.

“This population is in decline and needs access to high-speed internet as soon as feasible,” ELAN emphasized.

Among areas most poorly served, a 2015 survey by the Community Health and Social Services Network and the CROP polling firm found that 34 per cent of respondents in the Outaouais region in western Quebec and 46 per cent in the Laurentides region north of Montreal said they did not have access to high-speed internet.

When it comes to mobile devices, 38 per cent of respondents in the Centre-du-Québec and 52 per cent of respondents on the Côte-Nord said they did not have them. It’s worse in the Lower North Shore sub-region, where four in five are mother-tongue English. They do not have cellular phone service and there is a substantial lack of broadband access. Residents there are mainly dependent on more expensive satellite broadband.

Meanwhile Quebec’s Villages Branchés program prioritized education, health, and municipal services – but did nothing for rural residents and small and medium sized enterprises, ELAN said. As a result, Quebec rural communities are disadvantaged, compared to what is provided by other provincial broadband development programs.

The issue in Quebec, as in the rest of Canada, is urban-rural dichotomy, affecting French and English language minorities to similar degrees, Rodgers observed. “Both minority communities tend to be slightly less educated, slightly poorer than the majority communities around them.”

High-speed internet access can only help residents in these areas, and that is why Quebec’s English speaking community representatives are focussing attention on broadcasting and broadband issues, which had been neglected because other language issues had priority.

Pressure on the CRTC and local broadcasters has resulted in a substantial increase in English-language production, and that is why ELAN is determined to speak out when it comes to high-speed internet access to isolated and rural communities, Rodgers said.

“The fact that we’ve gone to CRTC, and reminded them that this community has special needs, will oblige the people who are implementing these programs to take that into account: It is bound to have a positive effect.”

irblock@hotmail.com

SUMMER YOUTH LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE AT BISHOP’S

Over the week of Aug. 13-18, the Bishop’s Forum will present English-speaking youth from throughout the province with a program of speakers, workshops and activities offering a unique opportunity to understand and reflect upon the realities and promises of Quebec.

Day 1 of the provincial youth civic engagement forum will look at what it means to be a citizen from a number of perspectives including that of Canadian, Quebecer and member of the English-speaking minority in the province, said Bishops’ Forum director James Hughes.

“Exercising political, social and legal rights in the province has changed fundamentally over the last few decades and Quebecers may be in store for further transformation in the years ahead as the world evolves in both intensively local and global ways,” said Hughes, noting our current and future leaders need to understand the process of change in order to lead it.

The Forum will begin with a talk on Citizenship in a Diverse World by Bishop’s philosophy professor Dr. Jamie Crooks, with a view to helping participants understand how the Quebec conversation about minority rights, citizenship and leading change is situated in the larger context of the various forces of identity at work in the world.

Then former Premier Jean Charest will discuss citizenship in Quebec and help youth appreciate the kind and quality of citizenship necessary to make the province richer, greener, smarter and more inclusive. One of Canada’s best known political figures, Charest is recognized for a major initiative for the sustainable development of Northern Quebec called “Le Plan Nord.”

The afternoon program will focus on Quebec’s English-speaking community which has helped this province develop for hundreds of years.

Following an historical and demographic portrait of our community presented by QCGN Policy Director Stephen Thompson, a series of speakers and an interactive panel of English-speaking politicians and leaders will help participants gain a better understanding of the history, contributions and promise of the English-speaking community of Quebec.

“Our community has changed dramatically over the last 40 years and faces both new challenges and opportunities,” said Hughes, noting the Forum will explore what it is to be a member of the English-speaking community today and where and how emerging leadership can be exercised to strengthen both the community and the province.

Panelists will include Eric Maldoff; provincial Native Affairs Minister Geoffrey KelleyMNA David Birnbaum, Parliamentary Assistant to the Ministers of Education; Rachel Hunting, Executive Director of Townshippers’ Association; and Anne Usher a longtime community development activist. The panel will be moderated by Royal Orr, a strategic communications adviser who began his career as the executive director of the Townshippers’ Association before moving on to become a radio host for CJAD and CBC.

On Day 2 youth will delve into the non-profit sector during the morning with a talk entitled The Quebec Non-Profit Sector: Promise and Potential with Kira Page, the communications and membership coordinator for the Centre for Community Organizations (COCo) followed by a discussion on Change through Advocacy with international human rights lawyer Pearl Eliadis.

In the afternoon, there will be a discussion entitled Residential Schools and Reconciliationwhich aims to awaken participants to the realities of residential school and the promise of reconciliation in Quebec. This discussion will be led by Romeo Saganash, the MP for Abitibi-Baie James-Nunavik-Eeyou. Saganash, the first Indigenous lawyer to graduate from the Université du Québec à Montréal, spent his lifetime working to uphold human rights. He was one of the principal authors of La Paix des Braves – a landmark agreement between the James Bay Cree and the Government of Quebec – and he has been a key negotiator for many national and international initiatives, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

After that there will be a discussion on being a young leader in an official language minority community. QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge will introduce her counterpart from French minorities outside Quebec, 28-year-old Alain Dupuis, who now heads the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada.

“The renewal of our English-speaking community is dependant on the engagement of youth and their willingness to assume leadership positions in all regions, all sectors of our community and the greater society around us,” said Martin-Laforge. “Our ability to mobilize our youth is the key to a vital and sustainable future for our community.”

“Quebec’s political system is simultaneously fascinating and frustrating. While having some of the developed world’s most progressive social policies, it is also the fulcrum of debate in Canada around how to address diversity,” commented Hughes, noting that Day 3 of the forum will look at these realities along with the manner in which the media engages in – and influences –political discourse in Quebec.

Richmond MNA Karine Vallières, the Parliamentary Youth Secretary to Premier Philippe Couillard; Vaudreuil-Soulanges MP Peter Schiefke, Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Premier’s Liaison to the English-speaking community Gregory Kelley, will lead off the conversation about the complex processes and numerous players involved in policy development and political change in Quebec. Vallières was one of the architects of the Liberal government’s 15-year youth strategy that finances the forum.

This panel will be followed with two talks by political “changemakers” including Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and the newly elected head of Québec Solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau Dubois. Mulcair, the former provincial Environment Minister who became the first New Democrat ever to be elected in a federal general election, will talk about “How Quebec became the Green Province.” Dubois will give an insider’s view of how student groups led the change to overturn proposed tuition fee hikes, including interactions with politicians, police and media with a talk about what has become known as the Maple Spring.

Day 3 will end with a Media Panel on the role journalism can play in the process of change. The panel will be led by Senator Joan Fraser, former editor of the Montreal Gazette and include Mike Finnerty, Host of CBC Radio’s Daybreak; Ethan Cox, founder of Ricochet Media; Patricia Pleszczynska, Directrice générale of Radio, Audio & Grand Montréal at Radio-Canada and Louise Solomita, City Editor at the Gazette. Bishop’s Principal Michael Goldbloom, a former publisher of the Toronto Star and the Montreal Gazette, will moderate the panel and focus it on the specific example of how the media may impact the defense and promotion of English minority linguistic rights in Quebec.

On Wednesday evening filmmaker Kevin Tierney will present his film “French Immersion” and lead a discussion about culture and Quebec’s English-speaking community.

The Quebec economy is like no other in the country and its uniqueness is due, at least in part, to the nature of the relationship between the business sector and the government and the relatively strong presence of employee unions. These and other key themes including electrification of transport, the sharing economy and social enterprise will be discussed on Day 4.

Speakers on this theme include Annalise Iten from Youth Employment Services Montreal;David Berliner co-founder and CEO of CoPower, Canada’s leading clean energy investment platform; Tereska Gesing, co-founder of Urban Seedling which encourages Montrealers to grow their own food, backyard-to-table; Lauran Rathmell, co-founder of Lufa Farms who oversees all greenhouse operations, research and development; and Blair McIntosh, President of Motrec International.

The youth forum will culminate with presentations to a mock Parliamentary Commission made up of several Quebec leaders including the federal Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau, the provincial Minister for Democratic Reform, Rita de SantisMount Royal MP Anthony Housefather, former MP Marlene Jennings, former MNA Russell Copeman, Mayor of NDG-Cote des Neiges, and QCGN President James Shea. Groups will be asked to put their learning and insight from the first four days on display and answer questions about their proposals on the change they want to see.

The Bishop’s Forum has funding for three consecutive years and any member of the English-speaking community aged 18 to 24 is eligible to apply to be a participant. More information on the Bishop’s Forum can be found at www.bishopsforum.ubishops.ca

QCGN SEEKS NOMINATIONS FOR 2017 COMMUNITY AWARDS

The Quebec Community Groups Network is welcoming nominations for the 2017 Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award and the Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award.

“These awards are designed to honor individuals, young and old, who have made significant contributions to Quebec’s English-speaking community,” said QCGN board member James Hughes, a winner of a Goldbloom Award in 2015, noting these are the only provincial level awards that reward individuals who have contributed to the vitality of English-speaking Quebec.

Goldbloom Awards

QCGN established the Goldbloom Award, which recognizes individuals who have contributed to strengthening the English-speaking community and to building bridges between Quebecers of different backgrounds, in 2009 to celebrate individuals who, like Dr. and Mrs. Goldbloom, dedicated their lives to ensuring English-speaking Quebec remains a vibrant community within Quebec and Canada.

Candidates for the Goldbloom award must have demonstrated leadership and commitment as a volunteer or as a professional in their chosen field of endeavour. Their contributions can be in any and all regions of Quebec, and in any field from business to academia; from youth to seniors; from health and social services to arts and culture; and any other area such as heritage, the environment, and sports. The guiding principle is that these individuals have provided strong and effective leadership and succeeded in improving the quality life of English-speaking Quebecers and the broader society.

Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award

The Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award was established in 2015 by Quebec Community Groups Network, the Fondation Notre Home Foundation and CBC Quebec to recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements of young English-speaking Quebecers who are engaged in innovative initiatives that create change in our communities.

For this award, leadership is defined broadly and not limited to leaders of specific organizations and projects. The main objective of the award is to celebrate the leadership and innovative thinking of engaged young English-speaking Quebecers. Nominations must come from organizations and institutions that serve Quebec’s English-speaking minority community.

To be eligible for a Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award, candidates must be under the age of 30 and have demonstrated outstanding leadership and contributed to an initiative with measurable impact in their community.

Recipients of the Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award and the Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award will be invited to receive their awards at a community recognition ceremony in October.

JEFFERY HALE COMMUNITY PARTNERS ANNUAL REPORT NOW ONLINE

Submitted by Diane Kameen
Jeffery Hale Community Partners

Jeffery Hale Annual Report cover

Learn more about activities available to English speakers in the Quebec City area by consulting the 2016 – 2017 annual report of Jeffery Hale Community Partners (JH Partners). JH Partners is a community-based charitable organization whose mission is to promote and contribute to the health and well-being of the English-speaking population of the Capitale-Nationale (Greater Quebec City region). JH Partners plays a leadership role in the community by helping to ensure that the region’s English-speaking population remains a priority when it comes to organizing health and social services. JH Partners is a catalyst for innovative outreach approaches to help improve community members’ quality of life, including a range of services and activities offered under its Wellness Centre banner.

NEW MEMBERS JOIN THE BOARD OF RAWQ

The annual general meeting of the Regional Association of West Quebecers (RAWQ) held June 7, 2017, represented both renewal and a harbinger of change. In the past, board membership was rather Aylmer-centric in its make-up and the issues it represented. This year RAWQ has a much more regionally diverse board of directors with members from Shawville and Otter Lake. The board of directors (pictured above) includes: Arthur Ayers, president; Alain Guy, vice-president/treasurer; Donna Cushman, secretary; Judith O’Rourke; Stephany Crowley; Sam LaBrecque; Joe Mackevic; Ken Bernard; Chris Judd; Bryan Daly; Citlalli Elizalde and immediate past president James Shea.

CANADIAN PARENTS FOR FRENCH HOSTS 15th CONCOURS D’ART ORATOIRES

By Marla Williams
CPF-Quebec Coordinator

On June 3, 2017, 38 Grade 11 and 12 French second language students – Secondary 5 in Quebec –  met in the National Capital region to participate in the 15th National Concours d’art oratoire finals.

As the top contestants from a total of over 62,000 participants nationwide, winners of the national finals obtained scholarships in excess of $25,000 from the University of OttawaUniversité de MonctonUniversité Sainte-Anne and Université de Saint-Boniface.

CPF in Quebec would like to congratulate Elizabeth Hua from Rosemere, Que., who won second place in the Early French Immersion category.

The Concours d’art oratoire is a public speaking contest organized by Canadian Parents for French for secondary students in French programs across Canada. Every spring, an estimated 80,000 students take part in this annual competition.

Here in Quebec, 44 students from the Lester B. Pearson, Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Western Quebec School Boards, as well as their parents and teachers, took part in the provincial finals on April 29 at the Cosmodome in Laval, Que.

The students were divided into groups based on their grade level, and then each group was further divided into five categories, based on their French speaking ability. Here are the winners of each category:

Secondary 1 & 2 – Core: Matteo Sorgiovanni (Rosemere High School); Enriched: Rachel Becher (Hadley Junior High School, Gatineau); Enriched plus: Aniesha Covey (Philemon Wright High School, Gatineau); Immersion: Cassandra Bedard (Beaconsfield High School); Francophone (Sec 1): James Morand (Rosemere High School); Francophone (Sec 2): Lukka Picklyk (Philemon Wright High School, Gatineau)

Secondary 3 & 3 – Enriched plus: Hope Cornell (Lindsay Place High School, Pointe-Claire); Immersion: Angelica Antonakopoulos (Lindsay Place High School, Pointe-Claire); Francophone: Neve Maltus (Philemon Wright High School, Gatineau)

Secondary 5 Core – Charlie Cockburn (Philemon Wright High School, Gatineau); Enriched plus – Jennifer Hua (Rosemere High School); Immersion: Elizabeth Hua (Rosemere High School); Francophone: Marianne Lavergne (Rosemere High School)

Better French language skills are a key aspiration for Quebec’s non-Francophone youth. The Concours program helps fulfill that aspiration by giving youth a meaningful forum in which to practice and develop confidence in their French language skills.

CPF-Quebec would also like to thank its sponsors including Canadian Heritage, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, French for the Future, Global Montreal, LEARN Quebec and the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).

Network News April 2017

President’s Message

By Jim Shea
QCGN President

As winter turns to spring, the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) has been keeping busy. In March, we held a major conference on the integration of newcomers in Quebec’s English-speaking communities as well as the wrap up of our three-year Young Quebecers Leading the Way project. April promises to be just as busy as we distribute our annual survey of priorities and head into the nominations period for the renewal of our board of directors.

Toasting French at French Toast

Earlier this week I was pleased to represent QCGN at the Canadian Parents for French (CPF) French Toast on Parliament Hill to highlight the excellence of bilingual youth across the country as well as celebrate Canada 150. Hosted by Hull Aylmer MP Greg Fergus, the event provided an opportunity to hear from French Second Language (FSL) advocates including the Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly and other MPs, Senators, representatives from Canadian Heritage and the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages as well as key CPF partners and stakeholders. Minister Joly saluted the champions of French second-language learning and commented on the importance of FSL education not only as a benefit to youth but also in fostering national unity. The CPF Network featured two of its successful projects – French for Life outreach campaign and the Where Are They Now? video series – which helped in the promotion and advancement of linguistic duality throughout Canada. It was great to chat with the Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary for Official Languages Sean Casey, his predecessor Randy Boissonnault and my MP, Greg Fergus.

Access to Justice in Both Official Languages

The QCGN also presented to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages this week for the committee’s study on the Full Implementation of the Official Languages Act in the Canadian Justice System. Accompanied by Michael Bergman of the new Association of English-speaking Jurists of Quebec, QCGN expressed support for a Supreme Court of Canada appointment process that is transparent, inclusive, and accountable to Canadians. We stated there must be a systemic capacity for justices to hear cases and render decisions in both official languages and that the language skills of judges must be sufficient to ensure the evolution of Canadian law. QCGN has three main principles regarding access to justice:

  1. Possessing rights, and having a bilingual judiciary is of limited value if the infrastructure surrounding access to justice is not able to operate to provide services in both languages;
  2. We need a shared working definition for access to justice – especially when discussing and developing evidenced-based public policy; and;
  3. We need stable funding from Justice Canada to help develop the association.

QCGN AGM to be Held on June 15-16

At a recent meeting the QCGN’s board of directors set the date for the 22nd annual meeting of the Quebec Community Groups Network for mid-June. The convention will kick off Thursday June 15 with professional development sessions for the staff and boards of our organizations and stakeholders. Using a speed dating format, the afternoon will allow participants to meet with representatives of various federal departments and agencies to discuss opportunities for funding and support. On Friday June 16, we will reconvene for a series of policy discussions on issues of importance to Quebec’s English-speaking communities, including recent Statistics Canada population projections and their impact on our community and Treasury Board’s current regulatory review of Official Languages regulations (Communications with and Services to the Public). After lunch, we will get down to the business of the Network during the annual general meeting. The convention and annual general meeting will be held in Montreal at Le Nouvel Hotel. Final details of the program will be posted, as they become available, on the QCGN convention microsite where you can also register now to take advantage of early bird rates.

11 Projects Shortlisted for Community Innovation Fund

The independent selection committee for the Community Innovation Fund (CIF) met in mid-March and has come up with a shortlist of organizations that were invited to submit a full application. The selection committee, chaired by Grace Hogg, 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. Financed by the Government of Canada through the Social Partnership Initiative in Official Language Minority Communities, and managed by the QCGN, the fund is a new resource to put social innovation in action. Between April 2017 and March 2019, the fund will invest $1 million in social initiatives while building partnerships to increase funds that will be injected into the community. The CIF also has some new faces. The final application and initial funding process will be managed by Beverly Caplan, who will be ably assisted by Jordan Black in the coming months. Caplan is the former regional manager at Canadian Heritage and one of her main functions was to manage project and program funding for the department. As such, she has the expertise to move this phase of the project forward. Black, an MBA student at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management with a concentration in finance and strategy, will be doing an internship at the QCGN this summer. The project is moving ahead on schedule and we look forward to working with them to make our innovative shortlisted projects get started on the right foot and progress to the benefit of our vulnerable youth, seniors and newcomers and Quebec’s English-speaking communities.

THE 7 KEYS TO CRACKING THE QUEBEC CODE

The QCGN is organizing a conference on Cracking the Quebec Code, the book written by pollster Jean-Marc Léger, marketing professor Jacques Nantel and journalist Pierre Duhamel.

Produced by Léger Research Intelligence Group, the study draws on extensive data to reveal who we are. Part social study, part marketing manual, this book unveils the character of Quebecers, both French and English-speaking. It finds differences between them, and similarities too. English-speaking Quebecers are hybrids, with attitudes a mix of English-Canadian and Québécois-francophone.

Presented by Léger Group Vice-President Christian Bourque, our conference entitled Cracking the Quebec Code: Understanding French-speaking Quebecers and English-speaking Hybrids will give participants insights into our likes and dislikes, hot buttons and soft spots.

Hosted by the QCGN and The Montreal Gazette, the event is presented in partnership with the Fondation Notre Home Foundation, the Association for Canadian Studies, the Quebec English-speaking Communities Research Network (QUESCREN) and the Thomas More Institute.

The conference will take place on Thursday, April 20 at The Montreal Gazette (1010 Ste-Catherine St. W.) This is a free event open to all of our members and stakeholders, but you must register online.

ANNUAL SURVEY ON PRIORITIES

Every year in April the QCGN distributes the Strategic Priorities Forum survey to community groups that provide services to English-speaking Quebecers across the province. The goal of exercise is to gather a list of annual priorities and share them with funders and stakeholders. The task for overseeing this process is undertaken by the QCGN’s Priority Setting Steering Committee (PSSC) which monitors the six overarching common priorities for building community vitality as identified by more than 150 representatives of community sector organizations from across all regions and all sectors of English-speaking Quebec during the Community Priority Setting Conference in March 2012.

At that meeting, participants wrote a declaration of community priorities to ensure a more vital and sustainable future. The six priorities, which remain unchanged, are:

  1. Access to services in English;
  2. Community building;
  3. Economic prosperity;
  4. Identity and renewal;
  5. Leadership and representation; and
  6. Strong institutions

The survey, which is based on the declaration, asks about the annual program and project priorities of community stakeholders and QCGN members. It also looks at how organizations are linking to the priorities established by the English-speaking community and what projects they are working on. The QCGN uses the overarching and annual priorities of the community when advocating for policies and programs that will help us achieve a vital and sustainable community.

The Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH) is committed to using the priorities gathered during this process when analyzing project funding applications and making recommendations on funding allocations to the minister. As always, we strongly encourage groups to align with the annual priorities in their program and project applications to PCH and other government departments, ministries, and other funding partners. The QCGN, its members and stakeholders also employ these priorities to identify development opportunities as well as interdepartmental and intradepartmental initiatives and to engage in discussion with different levels of government and in the broader community.

If you are a representative of a community group and you would like more information or to complete the survey contact the QCGN at info@qcgn.ca.

QCGN IS LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD MEN AND WOMEN

Are you someone, or do you know someone, who is devoted to the vitality of the English-speaking community? Do you or they support the vision and mission of the Quebec Community Groups Network? Are you willing to help us achieve our goals?

We are seeking talented and engaged community leaders who are willing to stand for election for its board of directors in 2017. There will be nine vacancies this year including the position of treasurer. A couple of directors are at the end of their term limits so the QCGN will be saying goodbye to Irene Tschernomor and Cheryl Gosselin. Six other director seats will be up for election or re-election.

Nominations for the board of directors are overseen by the QCGN Nominating Committee, whose members were appointed by the membership during the annual general meeting in June 2016. All member organizations, regardless of category, are invited to nominate qualified individuals to the board of directors.

“The board of directors works as a team to guide the QCGN and community with leadership and vision,” said Carole Mackaay, chair of the Nominating Committee. “They provide oversight on the management of the corporation’s affairs and act as ambassadors for the QCGN and the English-speaking community of Quebec.”

Board members are required to participate in regular meetings of the board of directors usually six per year, two of which are face-to-face — and serve on one or more committees in their areas of interest and expertise.

Additionally, board members are expected to remain up to date on public policy issues affecting Quebec’s English-speaking community; remain in contact with member organizations; attend annual general meetings (usually held the second weekend in June); and participate in major QCGN functions including the Goldbloom Awards (held in October).

Mackaay said the Nominating Committee is seeking to create an engaged board of directors that is representative of the Network and balanced in terms of gender and age. It also seeks to include regional and sectoral representation (e.g. health and social services; education; economic development; justice; arts, culture and heritage; etc.). QCGN board members are elected to serve two-year terms and may be re-elected for a maximum of three consecutive terms (six years).

Directors make a commitment to volunteer an average of 10 hours per month to serve on the QCGN board. Corporate officers with additional responsibilities — that is the president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary — are expected to commit an additional five hours per month as a result of additional responsibilities. All directors are expected to be adept at communicating electronically, including through social media.

The Nominating Committee will consider all nominations properly received, and will provide QCGN Members with a report, and a slate of recommended candidates for the available vacancies, no later than 5 p.m. May 5, 2017.

Should you have any questions please contact QCGN’s Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge 514-868-9044 ext. 225 or sylvia.martin-laforge@qcgn.ca

SUMMER YOUTH LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE AT BISHOP’S

Do you know any young up and coming leaders that want to make their future here in Quebec? Encourage them to participate in the Bishop’s Forum – a week-long youth leadership institute that will take place in the Eastern Townships this summer.

From August 13 to 18, 2017, dozens of English-speaking youth between the ages of 18 and 24 will converge on the campus of Bishop’s University for a week-long immersion into Quebec’s society. The youth will have an opportunity to meet Quebec’s movers and shakers, learn about how the province works and make connections that will last a lifetime.

“The Bishop’s Forum wants to make Quebec better by equipping young English-speaking Quebecers with the ideas, networks, and tools to lead change,” said the Forum’s director James Hughes. “We’re designing the Forum in an engaging and innovative way to help young people put their talents, including their leadership skills, to work to further their own careers and the quality of life in the province.”

“Quebec benefits when its younger citizens are informed and knowledgeable about how its major institutions and systems function,” commented Michael Goldbloom, the principal of Bishop’s University which is hosting the youth leadership institute. “Our goal is to enhance young English-speaking Quebecers’ capacity for and interest in civic engagement.”

This opportunity is supported by the Quebec government as part of its Stratégie d’action jeunesse 2016-2021. A cross section of Quebec’s institutional and organizational leaders will be involved in the program.

The Bishop’s Forum will provide participants an “inside look” at some of Quebec’s fundamental institutions. “Participants will get insight into how the National Assembly, political parties, business, community, not-for-profit organizations and the media influence public discourse and public policy,” Goldbloom said. “The Forum will give participants not only a sense of what it is like to work in these major sectors but also how to influence change.”

As well as meeting and engaging with high profile political, business and community leaders, participants will work in small groups throughout the week to identify a key change they want to affect in Quebec society and craft both the case for support and the road map to transformation. These efforts will culminate in a presentation by each group to a mock Parliamentary Commission made up of a blue-ribbon panel of Quebec changemakers.

The program is in part a result of the QCGN and members participating in the provincial consultation on Quebec’s 15-year youth policy.

“Thanks in large part to those efforts, the government recognized that Quebec’s English speakers need specific policies and programs. One positive result is that the government is funding the youth leadership institute at Bishop’s University,” said QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge

The application deadline for the Forum is May 5. Participation in the forum is free of charge. Travel, residence, meals, program content and evening events are included. The Bishop’s Forum has also created a small discretionary fund to help successful applicants who might not otherwise be able to participate in the conference due to financial need. For information, please contact Denise Lauzière at denise.lauziere@ubishops.ca.

YOUNG QUEBECERS LEADING THE WAY   

The final Young Quebecers Leading the Way forum took place from March 10 to 12 in the National Capital region as five dozen youth from the Gaspésie, Abitibi, Quebec City, Montreal and the Eastern Townships converged in Gatineau/Ottawa for the weekend.

On March 11, youth from various regions of the province were joined by Outaouais area delegates for the opening ceremonies where keynote speaker Désirée McGraw, who has devoted much of her life engaging and empowering a new generation of leaders to tackle global problems, gave an engaging speech.

“There is no magic formula for becoming a leader and no appropriate age at which you are suddenly recognized as a changemaker,” McGraw told youth, adding that each one of them must trace their own path. “It is important to note that all paths have their share of obstacles, curves, unexpected intersections and false shortcuts.”

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.

The final forum, emceed by CBC reporter Marika Wheeler, was launched by councillor Mireille Apollon, who said a few words on behalf of the city of Gatineau, and Hull-Aylmer MP Greg Fergus, who spoke on behalf of Mélanie Joly, the Minister of Canadian Heritage which funded the project.

Following the opening ceremony, participants had the opportunity to meet and talk with some prominent politicians and eminent experts including NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and CBC journalist Nick Gamache (Politics and Democracy); Native leader Romeo Saganash and indigenous columnist Jenn Jefferys (Indigenous Peoples); Canadian Press Ottawa Bureau Chief Heather Scoffield and Global Affairs Canada advisor Marcy Grossman (Economy); former ambassador Todd Kuiack and journalist Christopher Neal (Canada in the World); NDP youth critic Anne Minh-Thu Quach and Roma activist Dafina Savic (Canadian Identity); as well as National Observer managing editor Mike De Souza and student leader Élyse Tremblay-Longchamps (Environment and Social Issues).

The next morning, participants reconvened and split into six groups to draft youth declarations stating their views on the future of Canada based on the six themes discussed throughout the weekend and preparatory regional workshops before the forum.

The high point of the weekend was the presentation of the declarations on Parliament Hill. There was a lot of excitement in the air, given that they were in such a symbolic place.

Welcoming youths to Parliament were Pontiac MP William Amos, whose office helped organize our visit to the Hill, as well as Peter Schiefke, Parliamentary Youth Secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Everything that you spoke of today are ideas that are discussed here (in the House of Commons),” said Schiefke, who commented on the declarations. Following an inspiring speech on civic youth engagement, Schiefke surprised everyone by inviting us to take our group picture in the House of Commons.

“The QCGN was inspired by the quality of our young participants and what they presented,” said QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge. “This weekend proved to us that our young Quebecers are indeed leading the way!”

Martin-Laforge said the QCGN joins with youth participants in extending a special thank you to our six regional coordinators: Anthony Beer, Kelly Lacroix, Alice Lam, Guillaume Lévesque, Olivier Mutegetsi, and Citlalli Zepeda who did a great job at mobilizing the participants before, during and after the forum. “On behalf of all of our youth participants, the QCGN would also like to thank the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Youth Take Charge which funded our program, as well as our project partners the Institut du Nouveau Monde (INM) and the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS).”

The QCGN would like to thank this year’s sponsors including Via Rail Canada, CBC Quebec, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, Neighbours Regional Association of Rouyn-Noranda, the Committee for Anglophone Social Action (CASA), the Morrin Centre, Carleton University, Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ), Tourisme Outaouais, Blue Metropolis, Staples, The National Observer, The Montreal Gazette, and Canadian Parents for French.

Finally, QCGN would like to thank all the MPs and MNAs who contributed financially to our forum including William Amos, Frank Baylis, David Birnbaum, Marc Carrière, Jacques Chagnon, Anju Dhillon, André Fortin, Marc Garneau, Maryse Gaudreault, Anthony Housefather, Angelo Iacono, Alexandre Iracà, Mélanie Joly, Geoffrey Kelley, David Lametti, Alexandra Mendès, Marc Miller, Pablo Rodriguez, Francis Scarpaleggia, Peter Schiefke, and Kathleen Weil.


QCGN SEEKS NOMINATIONS FOR 2017 COMMUNITY AWARDS

The Quebec Community Groups Network is welcoming nominations for the 2017 Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award and the Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award.

“These awards are designed to honor individuals, young and old, who have made significant contributions to Quebec’s English-speaking community,” said QCGN board member James Hughes, a winner of a Goldbloom Award in 2015, noting these are the only provincial level awards that reward individuals who have contributed to the vitality of English-speaking Quebec.

Goldbloom Awards

QCGN established the Goldbloom Award, which recognizes individuals who have contributed to strengthening the English-speaking community and to building bridges between Quebecers of different backgrounds, in 2009 to celebrate individuals who, like Dr. and Mrs. Goldbloom, dedicated their lives to ensuring English-speaking Quebec remains a vibrant community within Quebec and Canada.

Candidates for the Goldbloom award must have demonstrated leadership and commitment as a volunteer or as a professional in their chosen field of endeavour. Their contributions can be in any and all regions of Quebec, and in any field from business to academia; from youth to seniors; from health and social services to arts and culture; and any other area such as heritage, the environment, and sports. The guiding principle is that these individuals have provided strong and effective leadership and succeeded in improving the quality life of English-speaking Quebecers and the broader society.

Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award

The Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award was established in 2015 by Quebec Community Groups Network, the Fondation Notre Home Foundation and CBC Quebec to recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements of young English-speaking Quebecers who are engaged in innovative initiatives that create change in our communities.

For this award, leadership is defined broadly and not limited to leaders of specific organizations and projects. The main objective of the award is to celebrate the leadership and innovative thinking of engaged young English-speaking Quebecers. Nominations must come from organizations and institutions that serve Quebec’s English-speaking minority community.

To be eligible for a Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award, candidates must be under the age of 30 and have demonstrated outstanding leadership and contributed to an initiative with measurable impact in their community.

Recipients of the Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award and the Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award will be invited to receive their awards at a community recognition ceremony in October.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND THE INTEGRATION OF ENGLISH-SPEAKING NEWCOMERS IN QUEBEC

By Rita Legault
Quebec Community Groups Network

On March 15, 2017, the Quebec Community Groups Network held a successful one-day conference on community engagement and the integration of immigrants, refugees, and migrants into Quebec’s English-speaking community.

Even Mother Nature could not stop theenthusiasm for our first major conference entitled Community Engagement and the Integration of English-speaking Newcomers in Quebec. Despite the biggest snowstorm of the season, dozens of participants braved the weather to participate in the conference which gave us an opportunity to not only tell, but to show our government partners how we are successfully integrating newcomers into Quebec. Read coverage in The Montreal Gazette.

This important discussion on how immigrants, refugees and migrants integrate into Quebec society through our English-speaking communities and institutions is a precursor to the work the QCGN is undertaking with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), which sponsored the conference.

“We heard how our language and our community act as an important bridge to ensure immigrants who speak a wide variety of languages – and a little bit of English – can successfully integrate Quebec and, as some pointed out, be included as contributing members to society,” said Sylvia Martin-Laforge, Director General of the QCGN.

The bonus is that successful integration of English-speaking newcomers – immigrants, refugees and migrants from other provinces – will bolster the vitality of our community.

“Over the coming months, we aim to work with IRCC to find innovative ways the department can develop policies, programs, and collaborative initiatives to help foster the vitality of our English-speaking minority communities through the successful integration of newcomers,” said Martin-Laforge. “We also plan to work with them on interdepartmental and intergovernmental initiatives that involve other partners, including our provincial government.”

Following the success of last week’s event, we hope to host an annual “newcomer” event for and about English-speaking communities where our not-for-profit organizations, service providers, and government representatives can get together to reflect on the important role that newcomers play in defining our communities and our society as well as the wide-ranging policy challenges and opportunities that arise from integration and ethnocultural diversity. Stay tuned for more on this file.

Official Minority Community Groups Share Best Practices

QCGN’s immigration and integration conference occurred on the eve of the National Metropolis Conference, a major annual event that brings together hundreds of researchers, policy makers, representatives from community and settlement organizations to share and exchange knowledge and experience in the field of immigration and settlement.

Organized by the  Association for Canadian Studies and the Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration, the 19th annual conference in Montreal, which coincided with Montreal’s 375th and Canada’s 150th anniversary, was the biggest ever.

Among the dozens of workshops and conferences was a bilingual roundtable on Immigration and Community Engagement in Official Language Minority Communities which brought together representatives from Quebec’s English-speaking community and French-speaking communities from the rest of Canada, including QCGN’s national sister organization the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA).

Much of the roundtable discussion by our francophone counterparts centered around the Réseau de soutien à l’immigration, which fosters immigration to Francophone minority communities and is funded by Canadian Heritage through the Interdepartmental Partnership with Official Language Communities (IPOLC).

The French-language immigration network aims to maintain the demographic weight of Francophone communities at a minimal level of 4.4 per cent; to improve the capacity of Francophone minority communities to receive French-speaking newcomers and to strengthen their reception and settlement infrastructures; to ensure the economic integration of French-speaking immigrants into Canadian society and into Francophone minority communities in particular; to ensure the social and cultural integration of French-speaking immigrants into Canadian society and into Francophone minority communities; and to foster the regionalization of Francophone immigration.

“The issues from one minority community to another are very similar, but our challenges here in Quebec are very different,” commented Martin-Laforge, explaining that in Quebec, federal powers are devolved to the province and official efforts to attract immigration are mainly limited to French speakers. “That means the QCGN has to tread delicately as we attempt to influence changes to federal and provincial policy and funding programs.”

Preventing Brain Drain from Quebec

Immigration was certainly a hot topic in mid-March – even outside of the Metropolis convention. As discussion and debates were lively at the conference,  Le Devoir reported how 1,300 immigrants abandon their careers each year due to frustration at having their diplomas and experience not being recognized in Quebec.

Le Devoir reported that of the 4,500 candidates who try to integrate a professional order each year, nearly 3,000 receive recognition for their achievements provided they are trained or participate in a complementary course, however, the demands for the courses are often inaccessible and too long, resulting in an approximate 28 per cent drop-out rate.

That was one of the issues raised during a QCGN-sponsored workshop on factors related to foreign student retention and integration in Quebec and Canada. The results of two new studies were presented including one by Paul Holley, Association for Canadian Studies and another by Kareem El-Assal from the Conference Board of Canada.

The ACS study, entitled Push-Pull Factors Related to Student Retention and Integration in Québec, makes a number of recommendations to encourage foreign students to remain in Quebec. They recommend improved access to French-language instruction for English-speaking students; the creation of social networking opportunities for English-speaking students; improving students’ welcoming experience with the university’s administration. They also suggest developing and improving the foreign credential recognition program for newcomers and making access to permanent residency after studies easier for international students.

The Conference Board study entitled Bringing the World to Quebec: Six Suggestions to Attract and Retain More International Students suggests that international post-secondary students offer much value to Quebec: educational, social, cultural, demographic, and economic.

“To strengthen its economy, Quebec could use more of their skills, knowledge, and global connections. But Quebec’s recruitment and retention of international students could be more effective,” the study says while recommending six ways the province could promote its unique features in the competitive world market for international students and encourage their immigration to Quebec and integration into the workforce.

“It is helpful for our Network to understand the socioeconomic and linguistic factors that drive foreign English-speaking students to leave Quebec upon completing their studies,” commented Martin-Laforge. “We want more of them to remain here since they bolster our community and contribute to the economic prosperity of Quebec.”

RURAL AND ISOLATED REGIONS TO GET BROADBAND ACCESS

A recent policy by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) declares high speed internet access a basic service for all Canadians and sets out the actions the commission must take to help meet the needs of Canadians so that they can participate in the digital economy and society.

“This is big news for QCGN members living in rural and remote communities, and the new broadband fund to support increased internet access is also big – up to $750 million over five years,” said Guy Rodgers, Executive Director of the English Language Arts Network, noting the fund will be launched this spring.

ELAN and the Quebec English-Language Production Council (QEPC) are members of a minority languages working group with the CRTC. At a meeting in late March, the CRTC informed them that Telecom Regulatory Policy 2016-496 adds broadband internet access service – both fixed and mobile – to the list of basic telecommunications services that Canadians receive. View a PowerPoint summary of the CRTC’s strategic objectives.

“It will be essential for our communities to be involved in the validation of this new policy and, more importantly, in its implementation,” said Rodgers, explaining the first step will be a conference call information session.  “You are all busy, but this new policy has major significance for rural and regional communities, so please take a minute to sign up for a conference call information session,” he said.

To participate in a conference call within the next two weeks, contact ELAN at guyrodgers@quebec-elan.org.

The next steps will be to participate in CRTC public hearings and to contact regional internet providers.

CPF LAUNCHES SECOND VIRTUAL CHOIR AND OTHER STUDENT ACTIVITIES

By Marla Williams
CPF-Quebec Coordinator

Following the success of the initial tour, Canadian Parents for French-Quebec (CPF-Quebec), in partnership with Bishop’s University, the Community Learning Centres/LEARN Quebec and the Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations, is pleased to bring you the second French Second Language (FSL) Virtual Choir in the province.

Students from across the program perform Mon ami m’a raconté!, a playful song that was written and arranged by Chantal Gosselin and Jamie Crooks which reminds us of a time before the internet existed.

The Virtual Choir project was created to foster an appreciation of the French language and culture among the English-speaking and Allophone communities in a fun and meaningful way, as well as to bring diverse communities together through song.

Students had fun with this song, which got them to think about how we could manage without the internet or electricity.

Susana Elmaliotis, music teacher at Parkdale Elementary School, said her students had a thought-provoking conversation about times when they had experienced power outages during extreme weather events and enjoyed delving into questions about their own social media use.

For more on the Virtual Choir project, please click here.

2017 Quebec Concours d’art oratoire

CPF Quebec’s provincial Concours d’art oratoire will take place on April 29 at the Cosmodome in Laval.

The Concours d’art oratoire is a French-speaking competition for secondary students throughout the province for which students write an original three to five-minute speech on a topic of their choice, and present it in front of a panel of judges, parents and peers.

Students may participate through their schools or as independent contestants. Participants are grouped according to their level of French and have the chance to win several prizes and scholarships.

Open to high school students from across the province, Secondary V winners are invited to participate at the National Concours finals in Ottawa on June 3, where they will spend a weekend with French-second language students from across the country. During the finals participants compete against Provincial Concours winners from across Canada for a chance to win scholarships to the University of Ottawa and other Canadian universities (some in excess of $20,000).

Posters are currently available for secondary schools. For more details, please contact Marla Williams mwilliams@cpf.ca or Gabrielle Guillon gguillon@cpf.ca.

O’Poesie – CPF-Quebec Launches its First Poetry Contest

O’Poésie is a French as a Second Language poetry contest open to youth in Quebec aged 10 to 17. This provincial poetry contest provides an opportunity to foster social emotional learning, and for FSL students to share their experiences by using words creatively and to use the French language in an entirely new way.

Send your poem by May 12, 2017, by mail or email to Gabrielle Guillon at gguillon@cpf.ca (with O’Poesie Contest in the subject heading). For more details and rules, please visit http://qc.cpf.ca/opoesie/.

I READ THEREFORE I AM – MEGANTIC AREA YOUTH LAUNCH COLLECTION OF STORIES

MCDC Book Launches

Submitted by Megantic English-speaking Community Development Corporation

The Megantic English-speaking Community Development Corporation, (MCDC) is proud to announce the official launch of a collective book I read therefore I am aimed at promoting literacy among the youth. The book was produced in collaboration with St. Patrick Elementary and A.S. Johnson High School in Thetford Mines.

The book is a collection of stories written by the students. Each student from Kindergarten to Secondary V contributed to the book either by drawing a picture (for the little ones) or by writing a story based on one of themes suggested by their teacher.

Additionally, students in the art class were asked to illustrate each section of the book. It was a complete collective effort by all involved – students, teachers, the school, MCDC staff and volunteers – to make this book come true.

In addition to the book, other activities took place during the year to promote literacy and encourage students to read. This included volunteers (students and seniors) reading stories to little ones, visiting the “Salon du Livre” in Quebec City, and attending a conference by Literacy Quebec.

“MCDC is so proud to have initiated this project in collaboration with the school. In this age of electronic devices and social media, fewer and fewer young people read. Yet, good reading skills play such an important role in pursuing post-secondary studies and find good employment,” said MCDC President Ann Marie Laughrea Powell. “We really hope that our project has contributed, at least to some degree, to give the desire to read to our youth and to help them experience the joy that a good book can bring.”

“This book, the culmination of a year-long literacy project, has given our students advanced opportunities to listen, speak, write and read,” added Stephen Renaud, Principal at St. Patrick Elementary and A.S. Johnson High School. “I can’t thank MCDC enough for allowing every St. Patrick’s and ASJ student the opportunity to publish their work. “

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book for $10, contact Estelle at MCDC (418-332-3851) or Brenda at the English school (418-335-5366).

MCDC is grateful to the Government of Canada for providing the funding that made this project possible. We also thank St. Patrick Elementary and A.S. Johnson High School students and teaching staff, Principal Renaud, and the volunteers who read to young students for their enthusiastic participation in this project.

QCGN MEMBERS BRING AWARENESS TO PARKINSON’S DISEASE

Parkinson Canada – Québec, a relatively new member of the Quebec Community Groups Network, is working with member organizations and stakeholders to bring more awareness about the neurodegenerative disease to the public.

Parkinson Canada, which joined the Network in September 2016, is a pan-Canadian, bilingual organization servicing the Parkinson community since 1965. It has eight regional offices including one in Montreal that serves the province of Quebec in both English and French.
Last week, the organization worked with D’Arcy-McGee MNA David Birnbaum to bring Parkinson’s awareness to the National Assembly.

On April 6, the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education and the Minister of Higher Education, made a declaration in support of Parkinson Canada for Parkinson Awareness Month. The statement discussed the 200th anniversary of the first report of the disease by James Parkinson, the far-reaching effects of this condition and Parkinson Canada’s initiatives to help people in Quebec living with the disease.

“Parkinson’s is the second most important neurodegenerative disease and the population affected by it is expected to double within the next 15 years,” Birnbaum said. “I thought it necessary to put on the record of the National Assembly this vital concern and to apprise Quebecers of the importance of research and treatment.”

Some 100,000 Canadians, including 25,000 Quebecers, live with Parkinson’s disease. One out of five of them is under 50 and more than half will need formal or informal assistance for their daily living. Health care professionals from a dozen specialties may be needed to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Motor symptoms include: rigidity, slowness, posture and gait changes as well as tremors. There are about 20 possible non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, ranging from sleep disorders, depression and incontinence to speaking and swallowing difficulties.

Also for Parkinson Awareness Month, Parkinson Canada and the Cummings Center will be hosting a bilingual symposium for people with Parkinson’s and their loved ones. The conference, which was funded in part by Canadian Heritage, will focus on medications used to treat Parkinson’s and the impact of exercise on managing symptoms. The symposium will be held at the Gelber Conference Centre in Montreal on April 26, 2017. Details at www.parkinson.ca/qc426.

The Quebec chapter of Parkinson Canada recently presented an information session on Parkinson’s disease in Chateauguay, hosted by Montérégie West Community Network and will present another in Greenfield Park, hosted by the South Shore Community Partners Network on April 13.

Parkinson Canada offers phone and email information and referral services for persons with the disease, members of their family, and/or their caregivers; monthly support groups; education and awareness through conferences and training sessions. Its vision is a better life for Canadians living with Parkinson’s today; a world without Parkinson’s tomorrow.

VEQ SPRING FEST KICKS WINTER TO THE CURB

On Thursday, March 30, 70 people shared some good food and good conversation during the Voice of English-speaking Québec’s Spring Fest. Community members were invited to the 5 à 7 to kick winter to the curb and to celebrate the culmination of the Collaborative Community Mural and the Digital Memories projects, both funded by Canadian Heritage. A real size replica of the mural was on site for people to view and copies of a commemorative book created along with the paintings was handed out. The Digital Memories DVD was also distributed and the video was viewed during the event which was a great success.