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West Quebec mourns passing of James Shea

As 2018 concluded, the anglophone community was shocked by the unexpected passing of West Quebec community leader James Shea, at 76.

A lifelong educator, Mr Shea was, at the time of his death, Chairman of the West Quebec School Board (WQSB).

“We have lost an inspiring educational leader who provided all of us with a compelling and optimistic vision of the future for education in the WQSB. Jim was all about providing the best possible educational and social experience for our students. I’m confident that his legacy will continue to live on in each of us as evidenced in the work we do in our schools, centres and communities,” said Mike Dubeau, WQSB’s director.

Mr Shea was also president of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN),  2016 to 2018, a province-wide grouping of anglophone community groups.

 

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James Shea remembered as ‘fervent advocate’ for education, language rights

James Shea of Aylmer, an educator and minority language rights advocate, died on Saturday. He was 76.

Chairman of the Western Quebec School Board and retired superintendent of the Ottawa Catholic School Board, Shea was also the former president of the Quebec Communities Group Network (QCGN) and immediate past president of the Regional Association of West Quebecers.

In a communiqué issued Monday, current QCGN president Geoffrey Chambers described Shea as “a fervent advocate for Quebec’s English-speaking community and an impassioned proponent of bilingualism,” adding he was “serving at the helm when QCGN successfully advocated for increased support from the federal government’s Official Languages strategy as well as recognition from the provincial government that fostered creation of a Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers.”

Shea is survived by his wife, Theresa, and daughters Ann, Karen, Cathy and Lisa.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Western Quebec School Board for the James Shea Memorial Fund, in support of disadvantaged students. Donations can be mailed to WQSB at 15, rue Katimavik, Gatineau, QC, J9J 0E9.

Read the article on montrealgazette.com

James Shea, advocate for Quebec’s English-speaking community, dies

James Shea, a pioneering advocate for Quebec’s English-speaking community and former president of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), has died at 76.

The Aylmer, Que., native was a former teacher, school principal and school board administrator.

“No words can express the sadness of Mr. Shea’s death. Our school board, as well as the entire English community in Quebec, has lost a visionary, a leader like no other and a remarkable person who was appreciated, respected and valued by everybody who knew him,” said Mike Dubeau, director general of the Western Quebec School Board (WQSB).

“Jim was a fervent advocate for Quebec’s English-speaking community and an impassioned proponent of bilingualism,” said QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers.

Chambers notes that Shea was instrumental in helping QCGN successfully advocate for increased language support from the federal government as well as in encouraging the Quebec government to create a secretariat to improve relations with English-speaking Quebecers.

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QCGN mourns loss of James Shea, educator and advocate for linguistic duality 

Montreal, December 30, 2018 – The Quebec Community Groups Network was profoundly saddened to learn of the death this weekend of former QCGN President James Shea. Beloved throughout our Network, Jim was also the immediate past president of the Regional Association of West Quebecers.

“Jim was a fervent advocate for Quebec’s English-speaking community and an impassioned proponent of bilingualism,” said QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers. Jim led our Network during momentous times. Notably, he was serving at the helm when QCGN successfully advocated for increased support from the federal government’s Official Languages strategy as well as recognition from the provincial government that fostered creation of a Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers.

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Anglo groups cheer new federal spending to support official languages

The federal government’s announcement of $500 million in new spending for official-language minority communities was heartily welcomed by groups representing English-speaking communities in Quebec Wednesday.

The new spending brings the total investment of the federal government to $2.7 billion, the largest-ever commitment to official languages.

“The government of Canada has increased its investment in official languages by $500 million — a remarkable increase — and it has put English-speaking Quebec front and centre,” said James Shea, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), a coalition representing 56 English-language community organizations across Quebec.

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Plan d’action 2018-2023 – Comment seront partagés les 400 millions entre les minorités de langue officielle ?

In an interview with Francopresse, QCGN President James Shea discusses our community’s expectations out of the 2018-2023 Action Plan.

The recent federal budget indicated that there will be an additional $400 million in support for Official Languages, however the details of how the money will be spent are not yet known.

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QCGN Welcomes Raymond Théberge, Canada’s New Commissioner of Official Languages

Download a copy of the press release in PDF

Montreal – December 13, 2017 – The Quebec Community Groups Network welcomes the appointment of Raymond Théberge as Canada’s 7th Commissioner of Official Languages whose nomination was officially endorsed by the House of Commons this afternoon.

“Commissioner Théberge takes the helm at a critical time for Canada’s Official Languages,” commented QCGN President James Shea, noting that Government of Canada will soon unveil its multi-year Action Plan on Official Languages; Treasury Board is conducting a ground-up review of Official Languages Regulations; and work to modernize the Official Languages Act, which will shortly turn 50 years old, has begun.

Théberge, who holds a doctorate in Linguistics from McGill University, has more than three decades of experience serving official language minority communities from leading positions in government, academia, and the community sector. During his confirmation process, Théberge stressed the importance of research, and a firm evidence-base upon which to protect, and build upon the language rights of Canadians. He is also committed to ensuring that the participation of English and French-speaking Canadians in the leadership of his new office, and visiting the English-speaking community of Quebec as a first order of business.

“Commissioner Théberge is now the leading advocate for Canada’s English- and French-speaking minority communities,” commented Shea, noting that the Commissioner’s job requires an equal understanding and commitment to both of Canada’s official language minority communities.

“We look forward to him visiting Quebec’s English-speaking communities and QCGN is duty-bound to helping him better understand the needs and challenges of our Community of Communities as well as the many enduring policy gaps that impact our community.”

Traditionally held alternately by a French-speaking and an English-speaking Canadian, Théberge is the third Francophone and first commissioner from outside Ontario and Quebec to be appointed to the post since it was created in 1970 to ensure the application of the Official Languages Act and to promote bilingualism and linguistic duality. The Commissioner, who reports directly to Parliament, is responsible for the full recognition and widespread use of English and French within Canadian society, as well as within federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Official Languages Act.  The Commissioner of Official Languages is appointed for a seven-year mandate.

“Over the past decade, the QCGN has built a close relationship with the Commissioner of Official Languages,” remarked QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge. “This relationship was a critical part of key community victories, like the recent establishment of a Secretariat for Responsible for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers, and helping us get access to the highest levels of the federal government to ensure English-speaking Quebec’s unique concerns and priorities are heard and understood by policy leaders.

“The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages remains a key community ally and immense source of support, and we will continue to fully support their work,” said Martin-Laforge, extending our organization’s and our community’s appreciation to Interim Commissioner Ghislaine Saikaley and her team who have held down the fort since Graham Fraser retired a year ago after more than a decade of outstanding service.

Bonjour-Hi: Couillard repents, but anglo group too furious to forgive

“Accused in writing of participating in an exercise that heaped scorn on the English-speaking community, Premier Philippe Couillard has moved to patch up relations in the wake of the Bonjour-Hi debacle.”

Premier Philippe Couillard moved to patch up relations with English-speaking Quebecers in the wake of the Bonjour-Hi debacle after receiving a letter from the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).

Sources confirmed that the letter landed in Couillard’s mail Tuesday, sparking his comments in the legislature Thursday and an unscheduled afternoon interview with Montreal radio station CJAD. During question period Couillard admitted his government underestimated the negative impact the debate would have on the English-speaking community.

Read the article on the Montreal Gazette website

Community Leaders Ready to Assist Kathleen Weil, Quebec’s new Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers

Montreal – November 6, 2017 – Kathleen Weil, the new Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, expressed her commitment to making a difference for the province’s minority community and the Quebec Community Groups Network stands ready to work with her.

To engage with the English-speaking community, the provincial government must make investments in policy capacity in key sectors and regions, the QCGN told the minister as she sat down this morning with a delegation of 14 community leaders to discuss her new role.

“Since 2013, the QCGN has advocated for the establishment of a formal mechanism within the Government of Quebec that our minority community could work with to improve our vitality for the benefit of all Quebecers,” commented QCGN President James Shea, remarking that the QCGN is pleased that Premier Philippe Couillard has named Weil and tasked her with creating a Secretariat.

“Quebec now joins all other Canadian provinces and territories in creating a well-structured, and credible organization, resourced to make a difference in its linguistic minority community,” Shea told Minister Weil, noting that the QCGN expects “a robust and capable Secretariat that will withstand the test of changing governments.”

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QCGN Congratulates New MUHC Board and Pledges its Support

Montreal – September 18, 2017 – The Quebec Community Groups Network welcomes the appointment of a new Board of Directors at the McGill University Health Centre. We strongly hope that this will allow the resolution once and for all of systemic issues and the ongoing standoff between one of our most important institutions and the Quebec government.

“We congratulate Peter Kruyt and the other members of the new MUHC board who have taken on this formidable task. We look forward to helping and supporting them in dealing with the major challenges facing the MUHC,” said QCGN President James Shea. “Quebec’s English-speaking community counts on the new board and Health Minister Gaétan Barrette to provide the MUHC with all the tools it needs to thrive and continue to serve all Quebecers with the high level of specialized and super-specialized care they require.”

“For many months now, the QCGN has been concerned about the deteriorating situation at the MUHC and the inability of its leaders to come to a workable arrangement, along the same lines many other institutions which had been facing tough negotiations with Health Minister Barrette and his ministry officials,” said QCGN Vice-President Geoffrey Chambers. “But we remain troubled that the process to name the new board does not appear to have included input from members of the community who have in-depth knowledge of the community and of our health and social services network.”

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