Minorities, First Nations should play greater role in Quebec history course, critics say
Quebec's decision to hold off on controversial new course has critics asking, 'What's next?'
Critics of Quebec's revised high school history curriculum are hoping minority groups and Indigenous peoples feature prominently in any changes made to the controversial course, following news the province has decided to shelve it for now.
Education Minister Sébastien Proulx's office confirmed Thursday it will delay the implementation of the new curriculum, saying the goal of the program "is to be as representative and inclusive as possible."
I think anybody, whether they are Canadian or newly landed immigrants, they need to learn about Canada's colonial history.- Ellen Gabriel, Mohawk activist
Proulx told reporters Friday the province would launch a round of consultations before going ahead with the course, which was originally slated to roll out next September for Secondary III students.
A draft of the proposed curriculum obtained by CBC earlier this year drew criticism from teachers and education experts, who argued it focused too heavily on the French Canadian experience at the expense of Aboriginal peoples, the English-speaking minority and immigrants.
Ellen Gabriel, a Mohawk activist and artist from Kanesatake, says she'd like see the historical perspective of Quebec's First Nations featured prominently in any revised curriculum.
"I think anybody, whether they are Canadian or newly landed immigrants, they need to learn about Canada's colonial history."
Critics of that early draft say they hope the delay is a sign the government is taking the time to address their concerns.
John Commins, a longtime history teacher in the English Montreal School Board who had reviewed the proposed new curriculum, said he wants a course "that's less invested in a political narrative and more in a social narrative about what Quebec's past was like for most people."
"Their stories are deeply important and their trajectory through history is deeply important. Also the stories of Irish and Italians, Greek, Portuguese – I mean, we're all components of this state, and I think we deserve a place."
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Reforms to the curriculum were launched under the previous Parti Québécois government, which had campaigned in 2012 on a promise to emphasize Quebec's struggle for nationhood in the provincial school curriculum.
Not everyone is on board with the Liberal government's decision to delay the new course.
The unions under the Fédération syndicale de l'enseignement (FSE), which represent 65,000 teachers, issued a statement saying it was disappointed with the decision.
Jean-Francois Roberge, the education critic for the Coalition Avenir Québec, said Friday his party supports the previous history curriculum, which he denied was too nationalist in focus.
The new required history course will be broken up over two school years, beginning in Secondary III.