We must protect French – but not at the expense of Quebec’s English-speaking communities

By Marlene Jennings, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network

At the dawn of 2021, English-speaking Quebecers are witnessing the relative language peace we have enjoyed for many years fade.

In Ottawa, Official Languages Minister Mélanie Joly has promised to table a white paper as the basis for protecting and promoting French not only outside of Quebec but also within. Meanwhile, in Quebec City, Simon Jolin-Barrette, minister responsible for the French language, will reinforce the Charter of the French Language (Bill 101).

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Opinion: QCGN to be a crucial, constructive voice in coming debates

By Marlene Jennings  •  Special to Montreal Gazette

Let’s protect French without diminishing the vitality and viability of Quebec’s English-speaking communities, which are increasingly fragile.

The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) and many English-speaking Quebecers are determined to serve as crucial and constructive voices throughout upcoming debates that are bound to prove emotional and sometimes acrimonious. We believe that English-speaking Quebecers are uniquely placed to nurture understanding between English and French Canadians — and to communicate Quebec’s unique character and concerns as well as the needs of francophone minorities to Canada’s English-speaking majority.

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Montrealers to watch in 2021: Jennings ready to rumble for anglo rights

“This whole French-language debate excludes the interests of our community,” says the new president of the Quebec Community Groups Network.

“It’s been non-stop busy,” said Marlene Jennings, looking back on 2020. “I’m still trying to catch my breath; and I haven’t been able to do that yet.”

In September, she ended a whirlwind, one-year stint as trustee of the English Montreal School Board. In that time, she pulled the EMSB out of its dysfunctional state, and helped it transform into an entity equipped to face the future.

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Interview with Former Liberal MP Marlene Jennings

(VIDEO) As a former Liberal MP and someone who has dedicated most of her life to community involvement and public service, Marlene Jennings is now working to unite English-speaking community members in her new roles as president of the Quebec Community Groups Network. In this year in review, Global’s Laura Casella speaks to Jennings about the state of anglophone relations with the CAQ government and her priorities for safeguarding English-speaking right for the future.

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A Look Back and What’s to Come for Former Liberal MP Marlene Jennings

(VIDEO) Marlene Jennings has taken on a new role. She joins Global’s Laura Casella to talk about her vision for the English-speaking communities across Quebec.

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Two candidates vying for QCGN presidency

The president of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) is facing a challenge for his job in an election to be held on Nov. 5.

Geoffrey Chambers, who is completing his first two-year term as president of the Quebec anglophone lobby group, will be up against Marlene Jennings, the current QCGN treasurer and former Liberal MP for the Montreal riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

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Marlene Jennings – a lifetime of community involvement and public service experience now contributing to the Quebec Community Groups Network

Marlene Jennings has an extensive career in public service as a member of the Quebec Police Commission, an elected Member of Parliament, and several community groups. She served as a Trustee for the English Montreal School Board and has recently been elected as President of the Quebec Community Groups Network.

“I grew up in the Jacques Cartier area of Longueuil, and enjoyed a lovely childhood. My parents had six children, and they fostered a two more; who they eventually adopted. We all learned at an early age to be organized – otherwise the house would have been chaotic. My mother used to say; ‘If each of you leaves a glass somewhere, pretty soon we’ll all be living in a mess.’ So it was out of necessity that I leaned to be organized.” That skill would enable Marlene to manage multiple tasks, and eventually enable her to earn her law degree while working full time.

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Marlene Jennings seeks to rekindle connections with English-speaking organizations

December 6, 2020 – Marlene Jennings, a former Liberal MP, is working to unite English-speaking community members in her new role as president of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).

QCGN, a non-profit linking 53 English-language community organizations across the province, was subject to a public rift among its members last fall. Several organizations opted out of the network after butting heads with former president Geoffrey Chambers. But Jennings is in now, and she plans to open up a dialogue with all QCGN members, including those lost last year. à

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Quebec language minister says changes to Bill 101 are not an attack on English

November 24, 2020 – The Coalition Avenir Québec government will soon make changes to Quebec’s French language charter. Simon Jolin-Barrette announced that he will table legislation to modify Bill 101 early in the new year. But as Gobal’s Raquel Fletcher reports, he has revealed few details of what that plan will actually look like, which is causing some anxiety in the English community. Read more

Beloved Montreal holiday book fair pops up online

November 20, 2020 – For arts organizations, as indeed for all of us, 2020 has meant adapting on the fly. Read Quebec: Holiday Book Fest, a joint project of the Association of English-Language Publishers of Quebec and the Quebec Writers’ Federation, is a perfect case in point.

From its launch in 2015, the event initially known as the Holiday Pop-Up Book Fair was a grassroots success, its venues and writer lineups growing every year from intimate beginnings at the Atwater Library. The biggest challenge for organizers was how to keep pace with public demand for an event that quickly became a staple of the local holiday season for readers of English writing in Quebec. Read more