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Canada’s First Nation protest against French language in college

Students from Canada’s First Nations have led a protest march against Quebec’s controversial Bill 96, which limits the percentage of students who can enrol in English medium vocational colleges, known as CEGEPs, and mandates that all students must pass three courses in French in order to graduate.

Students from the Mohawk community in Kahnawake are concerned that having to take courses in French, a language which few in their community use or know, will put new students off from enrolling in college. Bill 96 specifically excludes schools on tribal lands from having to use French, but most of Canada’s indigenous people have to leave their lands to access further educatIon and for many tribes English, not French, is their second language. 

Inuit educationalists in the far north of the Francophone province are also concerned that that the bill will limit the educational choices for their children. Sarah Aloupa, who represents the school board of the 14 communities that make up the region of Nunavik, has written to the state’s premier pointing out that the language of education in the area is Inuktitut, with students choosing either French or English as a second language. Adding a French language requirement for Innuit students who have chosen to pursue their studies in English is “not acceptable”, she says. 

The First Nations Education Council and the Assembly of First Nations Labrador Quebec have also called for Inuit students to be exempt from the French language requirement.

Image courtesy of DEZALB from Pixabay
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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