Montreal

Montreal parents stunned to find N-word in kids' Grade 6 grammar workbook

Some Montreal parents are calling on Quebec’s Education Ministry to act after their children came home from their French-language elementary school with learning material containing a racially inappropriate word.

Parents of Marguerite Bourgeoys School Board urge Quebec’s Education Ministry to intervene

Mothers Nathalie, left, and Asha say their daughters were upset after being instructed to find the diminutive of the N-word, as part of a Grade 6 grammar exercise. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

Some Montreal parents are calling on Quebec's Education Ministry to take action after their children came home from their French-language elementary school with learning material containing a racially inappropriate word.

"It's very shocking," said Asha, the mother of an 11-year-old at Académie Saint-Clément, an elementary school in Town of Mount Royal that's in the Marguerite Bourgeoys School Board.

CBC is not using her last name to protect the identity of the child.

The title of the grammar exercise was called "Je m'amuse en français" — Having fun in French.

The students had to find the diminutive form of certain nouns. In the list of nouns, which included the French words for "bear," "flea" and "donkey," was the French version of the N-word.

"It's irresponsible for a teacher or a school to distribute such learning material to children in Grade 6. These are children who are learning, who have to grow and develop. And this is a way to invite children who are not of African descent to normalize that term,' Asha said.
Asha holds up her daughter's grammar exercise. It required students to come up with the diminutive form of certain nouns, including 'donkey,' 'flea' and the N-word. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

Nathalie, another mother of a black student in the class, said her daughter was upset by seeing the term.

"If you use that word, it means the other children are going to think, 'Well, we can use that word.... Why not?'"

Upon hearing the students discussing the word in class, the teacher allegedly told them it's perfectly acceptable and still in use.

Nathalie said her daughter was saddened and doesn't want to go back to that class next week after March break.

"I didn't think [the teacher] would react that way. He acted as if it was a normal word," Nathalie said.

The grammar exercise comes from a workbook published by a Montreal company.

The parents are now calling on the education minister to step in to see how widely used the exercise book is.

The Marguerite Bourgeoys School Board says it's also getting involved.

"The school board will make recommendations to the publisher to remove the offensive words from the workbook," the board said in a written statement. "The CSMB does not endorse, in any way, the use of such an expression."

With files from CBC reporter Elias Abboud

now