Risk of radicalization low in Quebec CEGEPs, survey finds

The risk of violent radicalization among Quebec youth remains "very weak," while incidents of racism and hate speech remain common, according to a new survey of CEGEP students.

Survey results at odds with some of the political rhetoric in the province about radicalization

Dr. Cecile Rousseau comments on a report on radicalization in Quebec CEGEPs. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The risk of violent radicalization among Quebec youth remains "very weak," while incidents of racism and hate speech remain common, according to a new survey of CEGEP students.

The online questionnaire, released Tuesday by the Quebec research group SHERPA in conjunction with the federation of CEGEPs, looked at the factors that can lead to radicalization and the best ways to prevent it.

​It found that people who aren't from religious backgrounds, as well as students who are at least second-generation immigrants, are more likely to be radicalized than religious people or those who are first-generation immigrants.

Here are some of the other key findings:

  • Men aged 25 and younger are most susceptible to radicalization.
  • People who have had difficult lives or lived through traumatic events, including family violence, are subject to radicalization.
  • Religion is seen as one factor that keeps people from supporting violent radicalization. However, if someone with a strong group identity also went through difficult life events, they could be more likely to radicalize.
  • The report recommends training in understanding these factors for those working in education, health and social services.

The report also says programs that encourage inclusion, intercultural dialogue and a supportive environment could help prevent radicalization.

The research was led by Dr. Cécile Rousseau, a child psychiatrist and scientific director of the SHERPA group.

"Overall, support for violent radicalization is minimal at the Quebec college level," said Rousseau.

She said that combat radicalization, SHERPA recommends improved psychological services in CEGEPs and health clinics.

The report was based on a questionnaire sent to students at eight CEGEPs. A total of 1,894 students responded to the survey and 1,241 completed all the questions.

The results of the voluntary survey present a portrait of radicalization at odds with some of the political rhetoric in the province.

New Parti Québécois chief Jean-François Lisée, for instance, said recently that "Islamic fundamentalism," is one of three major challenges facing Quebec, and the planet as a whole, along with inequality and global warming.