English?

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

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.

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