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.