Thisweek starts the registration period at your local English school. Or shall we say bilingual school? Or Immersion School? Or why not, Minority Language School in a Commission Scolaire? Today, there is almost shame in calling an English School an English School. While marketing wise it may be an excellent idea to call the English school system ‘bilingual’, sociologically and politically it’s suicidal.
The publisher’s experience is known. In Saskatchewan he had to fight, along with the remaining few Francophones, to get full school rights for the Fransaskois. Up to the Supreme Court. If it had not been for the fact that Canada was in another constitutional melodrama, the Meech Lake accord, chances are that the Devine government would have jettisoned them forever. The supreme (or divine) irony, the Court having already used the word to say that, ironically, it would take a simple law to erase forever the rights of the linguistic minority being that the Premier’s children were going to so-called French schools and that one of his daughters was studying to be a French teacher. The publisher should know, the last person with whom he shook hands leaving the Prairies was the former Premier who had come to fetch his son who had stayed at our hotel for a slumber party. As for his daughter, the publisher taught her.
The publisher also remembers the unanswered call to the Quebec English community for a physical show of support when the Fransaskois organised a march on the provincial Assembly.
There is no longer a real Francophone culture in Saskatchewan, there are officially a couple of tens of thousands of Fransaskois but, in fact, there is no Francophone culture.
In the early 1970’s, the publisher took a walk in what was still Saint-Boniface, now a ward of Winnipeg, with Senator Gildas Molgat. The town was soon to disappear, amalgamated into Winnipeg. The Senator’s words still resonate in my mind, forty years later: “When we lose an institution that we control, that operates in French for the French, the French disappear.”
The silly fact of the matter is that Quebec is not a ‘bilingual’ province and will never become one in any foreseeable future. It is a French province with an official English minority. Read no further than the second paragraph of the Charter of the French Language: “…respectful of the institutions of the English-speaking community of Québec..” Not a bilinguals-peaking community.
Most Quebecers must be able to function in French. The most is important. It is impossible for most Francophones outside of Quebec to have specialized education services, except in parts of Ontario and New-Brunswick. So if you have a child with special needs, de facto your family must function in English.
The sad story of the assimilation of the French in Canada needs not be repeated here, still the pattern is always the same. First the community adopts an attitude of staying French but learning English at school to be better English speakers than the Anglophones. Same here in Quebec where the Anglo elite is spending tons of money to prove that Anglophones are somehow more bilingual than Francophones and thus almost better Quebecers. Read Jack Jedwab for more details.
This doesn’t pass the most basic test. Like who is Ti-Mé? There is no such thing as a ‘bilingual culture’. You have individuals who are able to speak other languages, you have individuals who are familiar with other cultures, sometime without speaking the language that is behind it. You have cultures that are heavily influenced by other cultures, English Canada being a perfect example, relying on the United States for most of its cultural offering, thus answering the Ti-Mé question.
Promoting itself as ‘bilingual’, the English School system may get a few students more but at the cost of losing what it is: ENGLISH.
And yes, it’s the time to register YOUR children for ENGLISH school. Do it, please.