Network News – February 2017

President’s Message

By Jim Shea
QCGN President
I am very happy to report that the QCGN have just received a letter from the Prime Minister unequivocally reiterating his personal commitment to the rights of our English language minority community and to those of the French language minority outside Quebec. The letter was gracious and heartening, as it was clear our Prime Minister understands the importance of speaking to minority language communities in their own language. You can read the letter here. The QCGN has in turn responded to the Prime Minister’s letter expressing gratitude for his continuing support and the collaboration demonstrated by the Government. We have also extended an invitation on the community’s behalf to meet at his convenience to discuss the special challenges English-speaking Quebec faces. I understand that the letter will be shared with the Liberal caucus and I encourage you to share it with other members of the English-speaking community.

Government of Canada Restores and Expands Court Challenges Program

Court Challenges Program and James Shea

I was also happy to be on hand in early Feburary to represent the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) at a press conference and briefing where Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly announced the resurrection of the Court Challenges Program of Canada. QCGN is pleased that the program that funds legal challenges for language and equality rights cases, is not only being reinstated, but improved in response to joint recommendations made by the QCGN and Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA). Read our press release. The QCGN looks forward to ensuring English-speaking Quebec’s full participation in the governance of the improved program. Represented by former MP Marlene Jennings and lawyer Eric Maldoff, the QCGN participated in the study of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights (JUST), which produced a series of recommendations on which the new Court Challenges Program is modeled. The testimony by Maldoff and Jennings mirrored recommendations and principles QCGN and FCFA developed jointly to advise the Government of Canada on the reinstatement of the program. I would like to extend a special thanks to Marlene and Eric as well as Townshippers’ Association President Gerry Cutting and Jeffery Hale Executive Director Richard Walling who, along with Marlene, represented our community in these discussions with other minority rights advocates.

QCGN Meets New Parliamentary Secretary for Canadian Heritage

On Wednesday February 15, QCGN Vice-President Geoffrey Chambers and I had the pleasure of meeting Charlottetown MP Sean Casey, the newly appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Mr. Casey is assigned to assist the Minister of Canadian Heritage across the breadth of her responsibilities, including official languages, except for multiculturalism, which will be covered by Parkdale-High Park MP Arif Virani. Casey and Virani are two parliamentary secretaries who were recently named by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. On behalf of the QCGN, I would like to thank outgoing parliamentary secretary Randy Boissonnault, who did a tremendous job during the recent consultations on official languages. Boissonnault was appointed as a special adviser to the prime minister on LGBTQ2 issues. QCGN also welcomes Serge Cormier, MP for Acadie-Bathurst, as the new Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. Other MPs from our community were also promoted from the backbench including Sherry Romanado, MP for Longueuil-Charles-LeMoyne (Veterans Affairs); Marc Miller, MP for Ville Marie-Le Sud-Ouest-Île-des-Soeurs (Infrastructure and Communities) and Joel Lightbound, Louis Hébert (Health), who we ran into this summer during the Cross-Canada Consultation on Official Languages when it touched down in Quebec City. The QCGN looks forward to working with these new appointees.

QCGN Meets with Premier Liaison Officer Gregory Kelley

QCGN Meets Gregory Kelley

On February 11, fellow Board member Geoffrey Chambers and our Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge met with Gregory Kelley, who Premier Philippe Couillard appointed as his liaison officer with Quebec’s English-speaking community, following a promise made during a bilateral meeting with the QCGN last November. “I want to make sure that we hear all the issues before they come to the surface, prevent and act upstream, engage with the communities in Quebec, English-speaking Quebecers all across Quebec,” Couillard told reporters on Tuesday. Kelley has been working in Quebec City for the last five to six years, most recently as a political aide to Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Fournier. The QCGN has an excellent working relationship with him and now that he is in the Premier’s office we trust that he will be a real asset in moving the priorities of our community forward. At this initial meeting many priority files were discussed including: the community’s request for a formal contact within the Conseil exécutif; strong representation at the senior levels of the Ministries of Health and Education where community governance and other matters are critical; and, representation of English-speaking Quebecers in the civil service. Kelley told the QCGN he wants to be where the community is and so we urge organizations serving English-speaking Quebec to get on his dance card by inviting him to all the major events in our community. The QCGN is anticipating having monthly meetings with Greg to identify avenues for development, discuss potential projects, and exchange general information.

Minority Language Finnish Swedes Visit the QCGN

QCGN Meets with Swedish minority from Finland

On February 9, QCGN was delighted to host the board of the Svenska Folkskolans Vänner (SFV), a foundation that supports the Swedish-speaking linguistic minority population of Finland. Founded in 1882 to cater to basic schooling and libraries and to publish educational books for the Swedish-speaking population of Finland, the mission has grown. The foundation now owns educational centres and vocational schools, supports cultural venues, publishes a cultural magazine, and encourages people with prizes and scholarships. Each year SFV is also a big benefactor to a varying array of cultural and educational events and projects. On hand for our discussion with the SFV board were Jack Jedwab from the Association of Canadian Studies, Lorraine O’Donnell from the Quebec English-Speaking Communities Research Network (QUESCREN), Guy Rodgers from the English-Language Arts Network and Marcus Tabachnick from the Quebec English School Boards Association as well as Walter Duszara from the QCGN Board. The Finnish Swedes were in Montreal as part of a Canadian visit to study bilingualism in our country. They visited our sister community in Ontario and were prevented from travelling to New Brunswick by a typical Canadian snowstorm. After meeting with the QCGN, they had a videoconference with New Brunswick’s Commissioner of Official Languages Katherine d’Entremont, before having dinner with some English-speaking representatives of the Quebec government including David Birnbaum and Geoffrey Kelley.

QCGN AGM to be Held on June 16

At a recent meeting the QCGN’s board of directors set the date for the 17th annual meeting of the Quebec Community Groups Network for June 16. The convention and annual general meeting will be held in Montreal at Le Nouvel Hotel. Details on the program will be announced in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we are asking members of the network and the community to start thinking about who they want to see representing them on the QCGN board. An official call for nominations will be circulated in April.


By Tamara Hart
Community Innovation Fund Project Assistant

The Community Innovation Fund has received many great project proposals and has recruited a blue- ribbon panel of independent experts to undertake the selection process.The Fund received 43 applications from community organizations across Quebec – great projects and programs that aim to serve the most vulnerable members of Quebec’s English-speaking communities. These are the vulnerable populations targeted by the fund which was set up to finance social initiatives to improve employability or basic socioeconomic security for vulnerable youth, seniors/caregivers, or newcomers.

Managed by the Quebec Community Groups Network, the Community Innovation Fund is a new resource for Quebec’s English-speaking communities to put social innovation in action. Financed by the Government of Canada through the Social Partnership Initiative in Official Language Minority Communities, the fund will invest more than $1 million in social initiatives while building partnerships to increase funds that will be injected into the community.

The independent selection committee that will be choosing which organizations to invite to submit a full application is being led by Grace Hogg, grants coordinator of the George Hogg Family Foundation.

“I am honoured to chair the Community Innovation Fund Selection Committee, and am excited about the creative approach the Fund is taking,” commented Hogg. “The project’s emphasis on building organizational capacity and resilience through a circle of knowledge sharing is uniquely daring. It offers not just the obvious opportunity to provide much needed funding to organizations working with vulnerable people, but also to help these organizations learn, grow and, together, build a more cooperative and inventive community sector.”

Sitting on the selection committee with Hogg are Eva Ludvig, former Quebec representative of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, and Beverley Caplan, former regional manager at the Department of Canadian Heritage. They both bring a wealth of knowledge about the challenges of Quebec’s English-speaking official language minority communities all across the province.

Also on the committee are Jordan Black, an MBA student at Desautels School of Management at McGill University studying nonprofit consulting and management, as well as Sunil Manjunath and Madeline Doyle, who are consultants with the Community Service Initiative of the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University.

Organizations serving Quebec’s English-speaking communities were invited to submit preliminary proposals in December. All letters of intent and documentation are being thoroughly reviewed in accordance with selection criteria and based on the requirements of the Innovation Fund and Economic and Social Development Canada. A shortlist of 10 to 12 applicants will be announced in April.

“We have been working diligently to put in place a process which is fair and transparent, which includes creating a selection committee of unbiased individuals who are knowledgeable of the community sector in Quebec,” said QCGN board member James Hughes, who sits on the Governance Committee of the Fund.

“Building this type of committee has taken more time than anticipated, but is integral to the process,” he added, noting that for reasons of transparency the selection committee members all have experience working in the community, without being directly involved in organizations.

“As a result, we have a strong selection committee of people from diverse backgrounds representing the private, public and academic sectors with experience in community development,” he said. “We look forward to announcing the selected projects and organizations in the coming weeks.”

Hughes noted that measures have been put in place to ensure organizations will be supported through various stages of development.

“The full project proposal is an innovative and inclusive process and the likelihood of short-listed projects receiving funding is very high,” said Maria Rivas-Rivero, manager of the Community Innovation Fund, who explained that phase two of the selection process will include the submission’s full application based on the Community Innovation Fund community development model. “Applicants will be briefed and accompanied as they put together their final project proposals and detailed budgets.”

If all goes according to plan, projects will be ready to begin in the spring.

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


By Lisanne Gamelin
QCGN Youth Coordinator

Interesting discussions and lively debates are anticipated as dozens of youth prepare to convene in the National Capital Region for the third and final Young Quebecers Leading the Way forum from March 10 to 12.We have an exciting lineup of knowledgeable and influential workshop leaders with NDP leader Thomas Mulcair who will co-lead the Politics and Democracy workshop with political reporter Nick Gamache, producer of CBC Radio’s federal political affairs show The House and author of Inside Politics blog.

Our latest Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award winner Dafina Savic, a Roma rights activist who is also the Human Rights Coordinator at the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, and MP Anne-Minh Thu Quach, one of three Vietnamese Canadians elected to the House of Commons, will address shifting Canadian Identity in 2067.

Our Indigenous Peoples workshop will be co-led by Millennial Suffragette Jenn Jefferys, an Ottawa-based feminist activist and writer, and Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou MP Romeo Saganash, the first MP from an indigenous community to be elected in Quebec. Saganash also founded the Cree Nation Youth Council in 1985.

Our Social Issues and the Environment workshop will be co-led by National Observer managing editor Mike de Souza and Elyse Tremblay-Longchamps, vice-president of the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ), who was recently named as a member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council.

Other participants include former Canadian ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Todd Kuiack, an Algonquin from Pikwakanagan who spent 11 years in the foreign service in Latin American (Canada in the World) and Canadian Press Ottawa bureau chief Heather Scoffield (Economy), an award-winning journalist.

Désirée McGraw to Deliver Keynote

The two-day forum will kick off Saturday morning with a keynote speech delivered by Désirée McGraw, who was the first female president of Pearson College in British Columbia in its 40-year existence. McGraw, who is passionate about the civic engagement of young Canadians, is the former executive director and president of the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation and Sauvé Scholars Foundation, whose mission is to connect, engage and empower a new generation of public leadership in Canada and around the world to address key global challenges. A co-founder of the Canadian branch of Al Gore’s Climate Project, she was a youth activist in the ’80s when the arms race was at its peak.

On Saturday night, we will be screening Québec My Country Mon Pays, a documentary by John Walker. The film explores Walker’s personal story through the lens of a cast of characters including three generations of his family, childhood confidantes and artistic contemporaries such as renowned Quebec filmmaker Denys Arcand, authors Jacques Godbout and Louise Pelletier. Christina Clark, a young English-speaking Quebecer whose experience today mirrors Walker’s own in the 1960s and ’70s, will be on hand for a post-movie conversation about the challenges of young English speakers in modern Quebec.

The film will be screened at the Wakefield Film Festival on Feb. 25 and 26 and on The Documentary Channel on March 22.

During our closing ceremony, which will be held on Parliament Hill on Sunday afternoon, we will be joined by both the federal and provincial parliamentary youth secretaries who will be commenting on the declaration prepared by our participants. Peter Schiefke, Justin Trudeau’s youth secretary, and his provincial counterpart Karine Vallières. They are both making a second appearance after being with us for last year’s forum in Montreal.

The opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the Saturday evening’s post-movie chat with Christina Clark, will be emceed by CBC Quebec’s roving reporter Marika Wheeler, who travels across the province telling people’s stories for CBC Radio One and CBC News. She recently covered the mosque shooting in Quebec City.

Not Too Late to Register

In preparation for the provincial forum in March, regional workshops were held in January and February. Even if you weren’t present for the workshops, there are still limited spaces available for the forum. So, if you are interested, register now.

You can find out more on our project website or follow the Young Quebecers Leading the Way social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For additional information, please email


By Rita Legault
QCGN Director of Communications

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

The conference, sponsored by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), will kick off with a workshop/panel entitled Faith-based Organizations as Integrating Factors for Newcomers that will discuss how churches, synagogues, and faith-based groups are integrating newcomers into our communities. This panel was organized in cooperation with QCGN member organization the English-speaking Catholic Council whose executive director, Anna Farrow, will moderate.

For more than three decades, Quebec’s Catholic community has transformed from one largely composed of English speakers of Irish and English descent to a community that is comprised of a wide swath of cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

During the past 35 years, many of the English-speaking parishes in Montreal, Laval and the South Shore have operated as de facto landing pads for newcomers where English is the language of worship and interaction. Though most of these immigrant populations are neither French nor English-speaking, and though they are rightly working towards integration into French-speaking Quebec, many have English as their First Official Language Spoken (FOLS) and are integrating into Quebec through the English-speaking community through churches.

Other faith-based organizations in our community are also engaged in newcomer integration and supporting asylum seekers – most recently in the welcome of Syrian refugees. Our multi faith panel will include Alessandra Santopadre from the Archdiocese of Montreal; Pastor Eric Dyck from St. John’s Lutheran Church; Fr. Francis McKee from Jesus Light of the World Parish; Rabbi Lisa Grushcow from Temple Emanu-el-beth sholom; and Norbert Piché, the director of Jesuit Refugee Service – Canada.

Following a networking lunch, the afternoon will begin with a panel entitled The Role of Municipalities in Welcoming Newcomers that will discuss the growing role of our cities and towns in welcoming and integrating migrants, immigrants, and refugees and how they can partner effectively with community institutions and non-profit organizations for success in retaining newcomers.

Confirmed participants in this panel include Vera Dodic, the director of the City of Toronto’s Newcomer Office and Sherbrooke city councillor Annie Godbout, who presides over the city’s intercultural relations diversity committee Le comité des relations interculturelles et de la diversité de la Ville de Sherbrooke. Panelists from the City of Montreal and Quebec City have yet to confirm their participation. This panel will be moderated by Brigitte Dugay-Langlais, the coordinator of the Réseau de soutien à l’immigration francophone de l’Est de l’Ontario (RSIFEO).

The conference will wrap up with a roundtable entitled Fostering the Vitality of English-Speaking Communities in Quebec Through the Successful Integration of Newcomers. Along with participants, this plenary panel hopes to uncover innovative ways that our communities can – with the support of municipal, provincial, and federal government institutions – foster the vitality of English-speaking communities in Quebec through the successful integration of newcomers and how partnerships with community groups and institutions can better lead to positive settlement outcomes for newcomers.

This panel, moderated by Cynthia Ralickas of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, will include David O. Johnston, Quebec representative of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. Other panelists will be announced soon.

For details of QCGN’s conference and the registration link, visit our webpage.

The QCGN is also sponsoring a conference during the main Metropolis event that will talk about attracting and retaining foreign students. Entitled Pathways to Permanent Residence: Factors Related to Foreign Student Retention and Integration in Quebec and Canada, the workshop will bring together researchers and experts to discuss the principal factors that drive foreign students to remain in or leave Canada or their host province upon the completion of a university education.

With a focus on Quebec, participants will look at the socioeconomic and linguistic factors that attract students to Canada and contribute to their retention. This workshop will also examine the programs that facilitate international student mobility to Canada, the initial motivations for studying and living in Canada, what kind of support students secure from the university community across their period of study, and the conditions that might motivate them to remain upon the completion of their studies.


Dr. Paul Zanazanian, a history education specialist at McGill University, is seeking research participants for a study that examines the workings of English-speaking teachers’ historical consciousness and its impact on the ways they understand and teach the Quebec/Canadian history program to students. If you know history teachers in your community, the QCGN encourages you to make them aware of the opportunity to participate in this study.Dr. Zanazanian notes that the teaching of history is important for helping English-speaking youth develop a sense of identity and belonging to Quebec. Given the presence of a conventional master narrative in the provincial history program, the study will look at a variety of questions including how do teachers make room for the perspectives of English speakers and other minority groups? Twenty participants are currently needed from Montreal, Gatineau, Quebec City, and Sherbrooke. This study is funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC) and Dr. Zanazanian is the principal and sole investigator of the study. For further information, please contact Dr. Zanazanian at You can also reach him directly by phone at 514-398-4527 ext. 00495


Submitted by Canadian Parents for French in Quebec

Over the past few years, Canadian Parents for French in Quebec has been busy engaging youth and community members in a wide variety of activities including its Virtual Choir project and running the provincial semi-finals for CPF’s national Concours d’art oratoire. They have also conducted several information sessions for parents who want to learn more about supporting their children with their FSL learning.

In November, CPF held a conference examining the outcomes of FSL learning among English-speaking youth in Quebec 50 years after the creation of the first French immersion program by a group of dedicated parents on Montreal’s South Shore.

CPF’s Concours d’art oratoire provides the opportunity for students in English schools across Canada to write an original three- to five-minute piece and recite it in front of their peers and a panel of judges.

This year’s Provincial Concours, open to secondary students in Quebec, will take place on Saturday, April 29, 2017 at the Cosmodome in Laval. Provincial winners have the chance to win cash prizes and medals and Secondary 5 winners will travel to the National Concours in Ottawa to compete for scholarships (many in excess of $20,000) from the University of Ottawa and other universities across Canada.

CPF is also repeating its successful Virtual Choir project. This year’s choir features a short, fun song entitled Mon ami m’a raconté that allows youth to explore what life was like before the internet existed. There are still a few spots left. If your school or community choir is interested in taking part, please contact Marla at

In the meantime, CPF is looking for individuals and organizations to help continue to bring quality French second-language activities to English-speaking communities around the province. If you are interested in becoming a member, please click here for more details.


Submitted by Townshippers’ AssociationTownshippers’ Association’s Make Way for YOUth Estrie project will hold its first Discovery Day exploratory weekend from March 17 to 19. Plans are also taking shape for two other activities in summer and autumn giving participants a chance to take in the Estrie region in all its seasonal splendor.

Make Way for YOUth’s Discovery Days are the perfect way for busy post-secondary students and graduates and/or families who are considering a move to the Eastern Townships to be introduced to the people, places, and services of the Estrie English-speaking community.

Figuring out where to move before making the commitment can be overwhelming. But Make Way for YOUth’s activities makes it easier and even exciting.

“The interesting places they visit and the amazing food they enjoy during these weekends are great at helping to introduce participants to the region. But what is particularly wonderful is the networking activities that give participants a unique opportunity to experience the friendliness of our community first-hand,” explained project coordinator Holly McMillan.

“By welcoming them into our community, they leave feeling as though they are already a part of it,” McMillan added. “That sense of belonging is important when choosing where to call home and it helps make the decision so much easier. The best part? All costs relating to the activities – lodging, meals, and transportation – are covered through the project so people are free to enjoy the activities.”

Located in southeastern Quebec an hour east of Montreal, with the U.S. border to the south, the Estrie region is home to a charming all seasons playground with urban delights at its core. It is home to the adventurous with a vibrant English-speaking community where bilingual opportunities abound in a wide range of industries including agriculture, arts, culture, information and technology, education, healthcare, and manufacturing, and it welcomes innovative entrepreneurs.

The Project

Make Way for YOUth’s Discovery Days include free activities that help young professionals, under the age of 35, meet new people, see new places, learn new things about the Estrie. Conferences, workshops, visits to businesses and tourist attractions, savouring a meal at exceptional local restaurants and networking opportunities, are among the activities they will experience.

Other free Make Way for YOUth services include long-distance individual support to help young, English-speaking professionals find a job and get settled in a new community, and access to the weekly Accro des regions e-bulletin, which lists jobs that require knowledge of English or consider it an asset.

Make Way for YOUth can also help local employers, by providing free job postings, excellent visibility and networking opportunities that allow local businesses to find qualified employees, make new business contacts and increase their visibility in the English-speaking community. Both job seekers and employers can also use, which offers postings of jobs requiring English for all parts of the Townships.

Registrations are now being taken for the March Discovery Days, but spaces are limited. Those interested in taking part should register by Feb. 28, 2017, to guarantee their spot.

To qualify for MWFY’s activities or services you must be a graduate, or a soon to be graduate, from a post-secondary institution (college, university, vocational school) between the ages of 18 and 35 and eligible to work in Canada.

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 Québec’s large city centres, and is offered to the English-speaking community by Townshippers’ Association. The activities of Make Way for YOUth are made possible thanks to the financial support of the Secrétariat à la Jeunesse and numerous businesses and organizations throughout the Estrie region.

To register or for more information, contact Holly McMillan, Make Way for YOUth Migration Agent, by phone at 819-566-5717 (toll-free: 1-866-566-5717) or by e-mail: