The Kahnawake Education Center and the Kahnawake Combined School Committee are continuing the battle against a potential new provincial law requiring advanced knowledge of French – one that might have an odious effect on local students when they go to apply to universities, KEC’s director said yesterday.
Despite the removal of a requirement that would require students at English CEGEPs to complete three of their core program courses in French to receive their collegiate diploma, KEC director Robin Delaronde is still worried about the future for Kahnawake students.
“It’s really just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a small, positive piece of news,” Delaronde said.
The three program courses in French will be replaced by three extra French courses that will be language courses and not program courses, the Quebec government announced late Tuesday.
“It’s still a concern, because these extra French courses are still going to be an awfully big challenge for our students and may have the effect of lowering their grades and keeping them out of university,” Delaronde said.
Bill 96 would also cap the number of students allowed to attend English institutions and would require students to demonstrate a working knowledge of French in order to receive their collegiate diploma in Quebec.
Last week, KEC director Robin Delaronde called the potential new law “racist,” and “discriminatory.”
“These kids shouldn’t have to leave the province. They should have the opportunity to stay at home and study at home, to be with their families. We have discussed this at a political level,” but the government’s response has been, effectively, too bad, Delaronde said.
“They talk about building relationships and holding nation-to-nation discourse, but in actuality they’re not respecting First Nations people who live in Quebec. It’s linguistic assimilation,” Delaronde said.
On Tuesday, KEC and KSCS met with a number of key community organizations in an effort to keep the community informed about the new law that could very well challenge the human rights of local students.
In a statement, KEC said the meeting’s purpose was to ‘update the organizations on Bill 96’s development, its impacts and gather their input on how Bill 96 may affect their organizations and our community. Throughout discussions and preliminary analysis, it became evident this is a high-level community issue that challenges our inherent human and Indigenous rights.’
KEC went on to explain that the new law would affect not only education but social services as well.
‘Along with students, all organizational sectors would also feel the impact of any approved amendments favouring Quebec language laws. This includes social-service and health organizations within our community providing services in the English language,’ the statement read. ‘Organizational partners agree collaboration and a united effort is critical to oppose Bill 96 for its assault and forced assimilation on Indigenous people in Quebec. We are working on a collaborative communications plan with community organizations,’ KEC wrote.
More meetings are forthcoming this week, and more details will follow, KEC confirmed.
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase