Sebastien Proulx, Quebec's Education Minister, Won't Sign Off On History Course

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MONTREAL — A proposed high school history course that critics said ignored minorities in Quebec and promoted a rigid, nationalist ideology will not be implemented provincewide as planned, sources familiar with the program said Thursday.

Instead, the Education Department will make changes to the program to better reflect the province's cultural and linguistic minorities, according to an official in the department as well as other well-placed sources.

The contentious plan was hatched by the Parti Quebecois government before it lost the 2014 election and was being piloted in a Quebec schools. That will continue, while all other schools will stick to the old curriculum until further notice.

sebastien proulx
Quebec Education Minister Sebastien Proulx responds to reporters questions after a party caucus meeting, Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at the legislature in Quebec City. (Photo: Jacques Boissinot/CP)

The program was to be introduced provincewide in the 2016-17 school year, which begins in late August.

"This is absolutely good news," said Sylvia Martin-Laforge, head of the Quebec Community Groups Network, a federally funded organization that advocates for the province's anglophone community.

"We understand that the minister was not happy with the material. It would seem that people were eager (in the Education Department) to roll out this program and the minister had the courage to say 'No. We will not roll this out."'

Widely panned by First Nations groups

The proposed two-year program, called History of Quebec and Canada, was widely panned by First Nations groups, as well as cultural and linguistic minority communities across the province.

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press revealed that non-European francophone immigrants are scantily mentioned.

In the guidelines teachers use to craft their lesson plans, Confederation in 1867 is not a theme, but tucked into the larger section called "1840-1896: The formation of the Canadian federal system."

Moreover, the only discussion of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, considered the father of multiculturalism in Canada, is in the context of him "inviting the provincial governments to reopen the Canadian Constitution," after which Quebec left "empty-handed."

Martin-Laforge said "we can only hope that the depictions of minority communities will not be stereotypical and that the new program doesn't characterize us as bad guys."

Jacques Beauchemin, who helped write the proposed curriculum, had told The Canadian Press the purpose of the program was to remove mentions about Quebec being a diverse society that promotes multiculturalism.

Education Minister Sebastien Proulx could not be reached for comment.


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