Montreal

Former Hasidic Jew sues the province for getting a poor education

A former member of a Boisbriand Hasidic community is suing the Quebec government for more than $1 million for damages he says he suffered from getting a poor education.

Yohanan Lowen, who attended Hasidic schools in Boisbriand, seeks more than $1M in damages

Yohanan Lowen, who attended Hasidic schools in Boisbriand, said he was never taught Quebec's mandatory curriculum. (Radio-Canada)

A former member of a Boisbriand Hasidic community is suing the Quebec government for more than $1 million for damages he says he suffered from getting a poor education.

Yohanan Lowen, 36, told CBC that the Hasidic schools he attended in Boisbriand focused on the teachings of the Torah, rather than teach him the provincial education ministry’s mandatory curriculum.

“I started to learn a-b-c-d when I was the age of 29,” Lowen said.

Lowen left his community in 2010, and said his lack of education has been a major setback.

He said the Quebec government is to blame for letting that happen, and that other children in the community are in the same situation.

“Like every other human being in Quebec, they deserve everything that a regular child deserves and God never said that ultra-Orthodox children must have a miserable life,” Lowen said.

Legal action

Lowen issued a legal notice to the education ministry, youth protection agency, the schools and school boards involved, and Quebec's attorney general.

There could be further legal action if others come forward, according to Julien Pelletier, the executive director of the legal clinic Juripop.

“We don't reject the option of  a class-action [lawsuit] to get some compensation for … a system that failed him,” Pelletier said.

Quebec Education Minister Yves Bolduc said he would not comment on the issue because it could end up before the courts.

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