Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 8 - Evidence - Meeting of September 15, 2010
SHERBROOKE, Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages met this day at 2:02 p.m.
to study on the application of the Official Languages Act and of the regulations
and directives made under it (topic: The English-Speaking Communities in
Senator Maria Chaput (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Honourable senators, welcome to the Standing Senate
Committee on Official Languages. I am Senator Maria Chaput from Manitoba, and I
am the chair of this committee. I am joined this afternoon in Sherbrooke by
several colleagues, members of the committee, and I invite them to introduce
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: I am Senator Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis. I
live near Quebec City. I was also a member of the Canadian Parliament for nine
years. I am very pleased to be here today.
Senator Seidman: Good afternoon. I am Judith Seidman, senator from
Quebec, but I live in Montreal and am a member of the anglo community in
Montreal. I am very pleased to be here today to listen to you and hear the
issues that are important for the anglo minority communities in the Eastern
Senator Fraser: My name is Joan Fraser. I am another English
Montrealer. I have been in the Senate for 12 years, and before that I was a
journalist in Montreal for most of my career. Like my colleagues, I am delighted
to be here, particularly at Bishop's University, such an important part of the
townships' anglo community — the townships writ large, but also the anglo
Senator De Bané: I am Pierre De Bané, senator from Quebec. I served
many years in the House of Commons and now in the Senate. Every day I feel how
blessed we are to live in a country where two of the most important languages of
the Western world are official languages of the country. For me this is one of
the greatest blessings of our country. Unfortunately, we are not smart enough to
realize how that asset is precious as an envy of the whole world.
The Chair: Several months ago, the committee decided that it was
necessary to conduct a study on English-speaking minority communities. The
Official Languages Act states that the Government of Canada is committed to
enhancing the vitality of the English linguistic minority communities in Canada
and supporting and assisting their development. One of the mandates of this
committee is to study and report on the application of the act.
It is a pleasure to be in Sherbrooke. Members of the committee spent the last
two days in Quebec City and will also travel to Montreal tomorrow afternoon. The
objective is to conduct a comprehensive study of Quebec's English- speaking
communities and to explore various areas affecting their development and
vitality, such as community development, education, youth, arts and culture, and
I take this opportunity to share with you the three objectives that the
committee identified for this study. The first objective is to provide an
overview of the situation of English-speaking communities in Quebec by examining
various aspects affecting their development. The second objective is to define
the issues specific to English-speaking communities in Quebec and identify
corrective measures deemed necessary for their development. Finally, it is to
make recommendations to the federal government to support the development and
enhance the vitality of English-speaking minority communities.
The members of this committee have already met with dozens of individuals
from various backgrounds and with varied experiences and are looking forward to
continuing their productive meetings this afternoon.
I would like to welcome the Townshippers' Association and its
representatives, Mr. Gerald Cutting, President; and Ms. Ingrid Marini, Executive
Mr. Cutting and Ms. Marini, the committee thanks you for having accepted its
invitation to appear today. I invite you to make a presentation of approximately
five minutes, after which the members of the committee will follow with
Mr. Cutting, you now have the floor.
Gerald Cutting, President, Townshippers' Association: Senator Chaput,
all honourable members of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages,
We thank you again for inviting us to come and speak to you today. As
president of the Townshippers' Association, I recognize the importance of the
opportunity you are giving us. I am very pleased to be with you today.
The Townshippers' Association's mission is to promote the interests of the
English-speaking community in the historical Eastern Townships, to strengthen
the cultural identity of the community, and to encourage the full participation
of the English-speaking population in the community at large.
The association is in the habit of communicating with government officials in
English; the reason is simply to gently remind them of their obligation to reply
in English. The English-speaking minority in Quebec is alive and well. I should
also emphasize that all efforts made to acknowledge our language are noted and
We are grateful for the fact that people who respond to us are mostly those
for whom French is their mother tongue, and they are excellent communicators.
Where we feel that more effort should be made is in the understanding of both
the specific culture and the particular characteristics of the English-speaking
minority community in Quebec.
In the historical Eastern Townships, English speakers demonstrate a high
level of bilingualism. In the 15 to 24 age group, 81.2 per cent of English
speakers say they are conversationally bilingual compared to only 38.6 per cent
of French speakers from the same age group. Whereas bilingualism is evidently a
reality for a large part of the younger generation of English speakers, only
18.4 per cent of seniors in the over-65 age group consider themselves to be
As you can conclude when you consult the specific statistics highlighted in
our profile, some of the major concerns regarding the English-speaking community
of the Eastern Townships are: a declining population, high unemployment, low
income levels, low educational attainment, access to health services,
out-migration, marginalized youth, the perception of discrimination, as well as
a lack of support and visibility for English-speaking artists.
The future of the Eastern Townships' English-speaking community greatly
depends on addressing these problems, issues which affect many aspects of our
society: youth, health and social services, arts and culture, education,
economic development, and our ability to collaborate with other linguistic
The Townshippers' Association has initiatives that address these important
issues with funding for them coming from both federal and provincial sources,
but the resources available barely permit us to scratch the surface of some of
the issues and oblige us to completely neglect others. Financial support to help
us execute projects regarding outreach to youth, immigrants and the artistic
community is greatly lacking. Additional funding would permit us to assist and
support the integration of these groups into the community as well as the
Our consultations with youth through the Townshippers' Association Youth
Council have demonstrated that young Townshippers feel a low sense of belonging
to the community, coupled with a lack of acceptance by the French-speaking
community and prospective employers. Specific challenges facing youth include
low educational attainment, low income and lack of integration in the workforce
that could enable youth to develop higher levels of working French, consequently
helping to reduce levels of unemployment. These are all issues that must be
addressed in order to prevent out-migration and encourage more active community
participation among the younger generations.
We are trying to cut down our presentation given that we had prepared one
which was much longer. With the help of Ms. Marini, we will do some editing as
we go along. Please bear with us.
The arts and cultural sector is an area that requires massive additional
resources and support. Kishchuck, in a recent report, declared that
participation in community life through cultural expression is considered an
important health determinant. It fosters positive identity, solidarity and
community building. Unfortunately, the reality of the English- speaking artistic
community in the Eastern Townships is one of severely low income. The high
proportion of English- speaking community members earning less than $20,000 a
year prevents our community from more actively participating in cultural events.
When asked what could be done to improve the financial situation of creative
workers in the region, local artists expressed the substantial need for help in
marketing and selling their work, especially outside the region. This can be
noted in Patterson, 2008.
Restricted access to cultural experiences due to the vastness of the region
is also a contributing factor since transportation to these events can be
especially problematic for seniors and low-income families.
Townshippers' Day, a Townshippers' Association annual event, has shown
immense success in its 30 past editions, in part due to the impressive
involvement of the local artistic and English-speaking communities, as well as
the volunteers. Nick Fonda, a local English-language journalist and author,
describes Townshippers' Day as "a showcase for local musicians, dancers,
artists, writers and photographers, yet also a time for entrepreneurs and
artisans to display their wares and for community groups to explain what they
do. It is a day that salutes the vitality and creativity of the Eastern
Townships English-speaking community, but remains an event that is shared with
our French-speaking neighbours."
In fact, you are all cordially invited to this year's event which will take
place in Danville over the coming weekend. The event is sponsored financially by
Canadian Heritage, as well as through community and sponsor donations.
Townshippers' Day is but one example of the ways that the community can help
to promote and encourage the artistic community. Financial support, such as that
which allows us to carry out Townshippers' Day activities, is greatly needed to
develop more projects in this sector, projects which could increase networking
opportunities and communication, primarily within the artistic community but
also in the rest of the community as well.
We have so far been unsuccessful in accessing funds from provincial sources
that could help develop projects in the arts and cultural sector, and we believe
that this is an area that would require further investment from the provincial
government to develop more programs at the community level. It is very
unfortunate that more resources are not available for this priority in our
In completing her report, Kishchuck also stated that "the English-speaking
population in the Townships has a large proportion of older persons than the
French-speaking majority. It also has a much smaller proportion of people aged
18-44, and this age group has lower levels of education, employment, literacy,
and revenue. These major health determinants are widely recognized as placing a
person at a higher risk for poor health. These characteristics strongly suggest
that specific support and resources are needed in order to enable the Townships
English-speaking population to be a healthy community, which can contribute its
fair share to the socio-economic vitality of the community at large."
Provincial contributions and support for projects for seniors and youth have
been beneficial for the association in developing successful community projects,
but due to the requirements involving high levels of financial involvement at
the community level, we are limited in the amount of contributions we can
access. Administration costs for these projects are extremely high. Although we
are not regularly consulted by the provincial government when it comes to making
its decisions, we actively participate in consultations carried out in the
community at large and have contributed our input, which was acted upon, in the
areas of seniors, youth, and health and social services. We work hard to
participate in structures that permit our voices to be heard. Examples include
Agences HSSS, Tables de concertation des aînés, the tables jeunesses of the
Estrie region, PAJR and the Forum jeunesse Estrie.
Townshippers' Association has also many wonderful initiatives aimed at
developing structured collaboration between key community, institutional and
corporate players in all areas surrounding economic development, education,
employability and entrepreneurship, but we have unfortunately been unable to
access funds that could help these initiatives reach their full potential. We
will be participating in future dialogues regarding these areas and have high
hopes that they will result in conclusive efforts, both in terms of finances and
resources, to stimulate investment in community initiatives in order to help
further develop projects in these sectors.
Through involvement with the QCGN and other province-wide networks, such as
CHSSN, ELAN and QAHN, we maintain ties with English-speaking communities in the
different regions of Quebec. However, because we no longer have funds available
to allow us to meet in person, collaboration is greatly impeded. We also have
active relationships with ELAN because of the high proportion of artists in the
townships and with the MCDC because of proximity.
Whereas the QCGN remains our primary source for assistance and support
regarding advocacy issues and policy, we do not have a forum for information
exchange, professional development and collaboration. We witness a necessity for
more frequent assemblies bringing together executive directors, but without
sufficient funding to develop and execute training sessions and support groups
for the network, these assemblies remain wishful thinking. Communications exist
through newsletters, AGMs, emails and conference calls.
In the Eastern Townships, the English-speaking community has very close ties
with the French-speaking majority through collaborative work in the community
sector and with public health and social service partners, as well as through
As stated in our profile, many English-speaking people work, live and have
friends in both languages. A large number of English-speaking Townshippers have
French-speaking spouses and have embraced a bicultural lifestyle. According to
Government of Canada statistics for 2003, six out of ten married
English-speaking Quebecers have a non-English-speaking spouse. Many within the
English-speaking community enjoy the dominant French language and culture that
surround them. Their vision of the Eastern Townships is that diverse cultures
and linguistic groups can co- exist and thrive together. Conserving one's unique
heritage, language and culture does not rule out appreciating and integrating
into the community at large.
While Quebec's English-speaking citizens are increasingly fluent in French,
they do not necessarily feel comfortable in the province. This is taken from
Jedwab, a publication of 2005. English-speaking Quebecers are the least likely,
among all the official language minority communities, to feel that the interests
of their community are represented by their provincial government. Pocock, 2005,
In the Townships, 77.4 per cent of Estrie English-speaking respondents to
the 2005 Survey on Community Vitality felt that the future of the
English-speaking community in their region was threatened.
We here at Townshippers' Association take this statement very seriously.
Through our many projects and initiatives touching issues relating to youth,
health services, arts and culture, education, economic development and
collaboration with other linguistic minority groups attempt to address these
issues on a daily basis. However, it is not without government support and
continued collaboration that we will accomplish our mission to sustain an active
and vibrant English-speaking community.
To conclude, I invite you to read with me the last paragraph of our profile,
found on page 31:
Building bridges between the two linguistic groups is of the utmostimportance
to the survival of the English- speaking minority in the Eastern Townships.
Fortunately, the English-speaking population is more and morebilingual,
resulting in more interaction and greater understanding between the two groups.
Saying no to the mistaken perceptions of "us and them" can resultin a new
vision for a broader and more inclusive community, a community that shares a
number of common values and concerns. By working together, Townshippers, be they
English- or French-speaking, have the tools with whichto build a dynamic and
flourishing society that can be the envy of the rest of the world.
The Chair: Thank you for your excellent presentation, Mr. Cutting. The
first question to you will come from Senator Fortin-Duplessis.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Mr. Cutting, I listened to your statement
carefully. I come from teaching. You said that you too were having trouble with
young people dropping out or giving up their studies. When we held our hearings
in Quebec City, we had a videoconference with the English-speaking community in
the Gaspé. They were extremely unhappy too, because the dropout rate among
English-speaking students in their area, especially those who never go back to
school, means that they end up on welfare.
On the North Shore, northward from Sept-Îles or from Sept-Îles towards Quebec
City, dropout rates were lower. In Quebec City itself, the graduation rate for
English-speaking students was higher than for young francophones. Why do
English-speaking students drop out here?
Mr. Cutting: I have to be very careful when answering that question
because the situation in rural areas is not quite the same as in large cities
like Quebec or Montreal. Here in the Eastern Townships — and I will talk about
the Estrie, the region I know best, because you have to understand that the
historic Eastern Townships cover a huge area — in the Estrie, we have a higher
dropout rate than the French-speaking population. Perhaps it is because of a
lack of cultural activities.
There is the issue of transportation as well. Students spend almost three
hours a day travelling between home and school. In their small villages, there
is little community support. We still get situations where young people believe
that the other possibilities, the fortunes to be made, are in the west. We all
know that, in the 50s and 60s, there was a movement west, with young anglophones
moving to Montreal, Toronto and Calgary. The challenge for the Townshippers is
to convince young people that they have the opportunities, they have everything
they could want in life, here in the townships. But to convince a young person,
there have to be openings. Because of that, we are trying to convince employers
to make the effort.
Take a chance on a young person; take a chance on a young English person
whose French may not be 100 per cent but may be 90 per cent. In working with
people from education and from industry and commerce, in the long run, if we
have the resources we can build the bridges that will allow young people to feel
a sense of belongingness. "Belongingness" is the English descriptive word that
I would use. Again one of our greatest obstacles is to convince young people
that this is their home. You do not need to leave home to be successful, but we
must build bridges. We are building bridges every single day in the
Townshippers' Association because with this comes the possibility that we will
find more employment for young people, whether it be francophone or anglophone.
If you listen to some of my colleagues in the francophone community, they
will tell you exactly the same thing. It is a major challenge to convince young
people that they really have a place here in the Estrie.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: I am surprised at the work you are doing in
this area, because you are going further than all the previous witnesses. It is
so important, especially when we are dealing with different layers of society.
If people in the second layer, the young people, have left the region, the older
people feel alone and isolated because their families have left for jobs
elsewhere, such as Toronto or Ottawa. If older people are left alone, they often
do not dare to go out and meet other people. You are right to be tackling this
situation because it really is a serious problem.
Ingrid Marini, Executive Director, Townshippers' Association: If we go
back to the question of information, young people who stay in rural areas still,
even today, do not have access to high-speed Internet. They are not aware of the
various vocational study options that might be out there.
Statistically, anglophones are much less inclined to go into vocational
studies than francophones. According to the statistics, the numbers are 4.9 per
cent of anglophones compared to 11.8 per cent of francophones.
Anglophone students do not recognize that other career opportunities exist.
The only solutions they see are going to CEGEP and to university. They can
become discouraged because it could well be that their parents have not even
finished high school. For students in the different regions of Quebec, the
percentage of those with certificates, even those with a high-school diploma, is
very low compared to francophones: 29 per cent of francophones have neither a
certificate nor a diploma, compared to 45.6 per cent of anglophones.
These are the examples that young people have to follow. If that is what they
see in previous generations, they will unfortunately go off on the same path
because they have no mentoring, encouragement and support for their studies. It
is a serious problem right from the start because of the lack of support from
people belonging to what is called the middle-middle.
The middle-middle; the missing middle generation and the missing middle
income; and it is a double missing middle.
Senator Fraser: A quick riffle through this book did not produce the
statistics that you just cited, Ms. Marini. If they are in here, could you
confirm that they are in here, and if they are not, could you provide them for
Ms. Marini: Absolutely. I was referring to the French page 15, but I
assume it is also page 15 on the English side, when we talk about low education.
According to the census, 30 per cent of English speakers have no educational
certificate, compared to 29 per cent of French speakers.
Senator Fraser: That is a fascinating figure. I had not heard it
Ms. Marini: Many of the statistics referred to in Mr. Cutting's speech
are available in this document.
Senator Fraser: Mr. Cutting, again and again, a recurring theme in
your presentation was the absence of resources, and in some cases your projects,
those of your association, did not qualify for grants; in other cases, grants
had been cut off.
We are from the federal Parliament, so obviously we have not got a syllable
to say about what the province does unless we are suggesting negotiated
arrangements. We are trying to understand the context. It may take you a minute
or two to do all this, but I am trying to understand whether this language
minority has trouble getting money from governments because of what you might
call passive discrimination, that is, a program is set up with criteria that fit
majority groups but do not happen to fit minority groups, or is it rather more
active discrimination in that a program was set up specifically to apply only to
French language arts or whatever?
If you can answer that and break it down federally and provincially, it will
be helpful indeed. If you cannot do that today, can you think about it and send
it to us in writing?
Mr. Cutting: Let me just state that your question, first, appears like
Senator Fraser: That is what we are here for. We have job security; we
are allowed to walk on minefields.
Mr. Cutting: I am delighted with the opportunity of being able to
address it perhaps in another context and with some reflection, but what I would
have to say today is that there are two main reasons. One is that no matter what
we do at times in terms of writing up projects, et cetera, we have to assume
that we are in the game like any other organization. Sometimes we get it;
sometimes we do not. Sometimes we have a great proposal and it is rejected, and
sometimes we get money when we are not quite sure how we did it. It all depends
upon questions of timing and availability. That is a part of the game and it is
probably what all organizations in our situation must deal with.
The concept of an English-speaking minority in Quebec is much more delicate.
We find ourselves in perhaps a difficult situation because in many instances I
think there is still a lingering perception that the English community all lives
in Westmount; we all are rich; we all are managers; we all have a university
degree. The reality, and I will only speak from my own backyard, is that when
you get out here in the townships, that is not the case. However, when we go
knocking on doors, at times we encounter, "What do you guys need money for
Minority groups in general tend to be groups of people that do not enjoy the
same levels of education, income and health as the majority. It is simply
because, unless we take examples that are outside of our own country, minorities
in Canada tend to be the disenfranchised. I am not saying that the English
minority of Quebec is disenfranchised, by a long shot. In the townships, we want
to be active partners. We think we have found a way of doing that, and that is
raising the level of bilingualism.
Again, we have to work time and time again to disperse myths about us that
have been hanging around for a very long time and do not reflect reality. That
is why we have gone to a data-driven examination of who we are, what we are, and
where we would like to go. That is why I would invite you to go through this
profile that we presented because here are the statistics. They were not just
made up; they are based on active research. They disclose a minority that has at
one time enjoyed equality with the francophone community because we arrived at
just about the same time. We built things together and encountered hardships
Now, the English-speaking community because of the evaporation of the youth
is no longer a vibrant community. A community has to have its elders, and
elders, in order to be elders, need to have younger people. A major obstacle
that we encounter in our programs is to integrate elderly folks back into the
community whereby people see them as valuable and interesting. Probably because
I am getting to be that way myself, and I find myself interesting as can be, I
think youth ought to find that, too. However, a community needs to have
generations. When there are missing generations, we begin to feel it, and we
feel it here.
That is why it is so important to connect with agencies that see it as their
business to promote the development of Canadians wherever they are to the very
most of our ability and the community's ability.
Senator Fraser: I do not know when I have heard it put quite so
One of the agencies, one of whose core mandates is to do exactly what you are
talking about, is Canadian Heritage. How do you find dealing with them?
Mr. Cutting: Ms. Marini is our professional knocker.
Ms. Marini: We have amazing support from Canadian Heritage.
With regard to your request concerning provincial support, we have been
fortunate on the provincial level with regard to the generational project with
respect to the elders as well as our youth projects. Make Way for Youth is the
only English and the only regional project in the Place aux jeunes forum across
the province. Where we find a greater lack of support on the provincial level —
not federally, because federally we have wonderful communications, support and
funding — is concerning the culture and heritage aspect. There is a big lack and
a big need in that regard, which was signalled in the speech.
As a minority, discrimination exists. Unfortunately, we have to base almost
every declaration that we make on a defensive level. We have to start defending
what it is we want to put forward. Being defensive prevents us from being
proactive. That is where we need to make more clarification, especially in
regard to the arts, culture and heritage at the provincial level.
Senator Fraser: In Quebec City yesterday, we were told of some of the
systemic difficulties that arise when people are trying to build a data-based
approach to describing their needs to various levels of government. One example
that struck me is the hospital information system that all hospitals use and
that comes from on high. There is not a box to tick off about the language of
Ms. Marini: We just produced a report on access to English services in
the health and social services sector. Unfortunately, it has not yet been
released by the agency that funded it, but as soon as it is, you will all
receive a copy.
One of the main conclusions in the report is a suggestion to have a unified
and consistent level of — how can I put it — ability or bilingualism relating to
all services offered, especially for the welcoming and entry-level services in
hospitals. If there was a consistency on the level of English that is required
by personnel, it would already make things a lot better.
There is not only a lack of services and quality and quantity of services,
but a lack of communication on how to access these services. That is a big issue
because sometimes the services exist and the actual providers do not even know
where to find the services in English.
Senator Fraser: If I get sick now, where do I go as an anglophone?
Where do I go here? Cowansville?
Ms. Marini: Unfortunately, you are in Quebec. That can be as much an
issue for an English speaker as for a French speaker.
Senator Fraser: I realize the whole health care system is stressed
beyond belief, and we all have our favourite stories about how we would fix it
if we could. This committee is obviously looking at the particular situation of
the minority. There is no longer an English-language hospital in this region.
There is no designated bilingual hospital in this region.
Ms. Marini: There is not.
Senator Fraser: Does the access plan work? I assume there is an access
Ms. Marini: I believe that the access plan is being redeveloped.
Senator Fraser: It will be new and improved, we hope?
Ms. Marini: In developing their plan they are taking into
consideration what we proposed in our report. Fortunately, we are being
consulted in the development of this plan. We want to actively participate in
its development as well because we not only access these services ourselves, but
as community members we listen to our community and their concerns. We need to
be the voice that portrays this information. It is an issue and it is a serious
Senator Fraser: The point made in Quebec City when we were talking
about data was that since there is no longer a full-service English-language
hospital in Quebec City for many things, particularly after eight o'clock at
night when the Jeffery Hale Hospital emergency ward is closed, anglophones will
go to a French-language hospital and be glad to get the service that they get
there, but they would obviously be even be more glad if they could get it in
English. However, there is no way to file those people as people whose preferred
language is English, so no one knows how many people would be grateful to
receive their service in English if they could. There is no data about it.
Ms. Marini: How simple it would be when you complete an application
form or your renewal for your carte d'assurance maladie, or sun card, to check
"English" or "French" in a little box? You could simply have a little F or
an E in a bottom corner of that little card. People would know, as soon as they
were to come across your card or your files and dossiers — pharmacies as much as
hospitals, clinics and specialty services — in which language you would prefer
to be served. If the person calling you to tell you that your appointment with
such a specialist is on such a day sees that you prefer to be spoken to in
English and does not have the capacity, the phone call will be made by someone
who does have the capacity. How simple would that be?
Senator Seidman: I would like to continue with the health care and
social services aspect of this issue.
Mr. Cutting, when you were editing your remarks, you edited out a paragraph.
I would like to give you the opportunity to insert it into the record. You do
say there are programs administered by Health Canada and the CHSSN, but it is
very evident that because you have an aging population and because, as Ms.
Marini said, there is that so-called missing middle — which, by the way, we
heard about in the Quebec City meetings as well — that may present special
difficulties for you with regard to health and social services. I am interested
in hearing how your problems here may be different from those in the other
regions of Quebec.
Ms. Marini: The reality of the rurality of our region affects it a
lot. The missing middle or lack of support groups to the elderly and the lack of
services available in English contributes to an increasing number of people who
do not even seek the services that they have a right to because they are afraid
of not being received, not understanding, of bothering people because there are
no available services, no transport, no access. There are so many contributing
factors and it is extremely worrisome.
I am assuming that the access to services is similar all over the province,
but the rurality of our area contributes to the seriousness of this issue. There
is a lack of volunteers and a lack of support groups. A lack of collaborating
services to ensure that these people receive the services to which they are
entitled is a serious issue.
Mr. Cutting: There is another factor. We tried in our presentation to
emphasize the tremendous amount of importance we place on bilingualism. In the
francophone community there is a recognition of the level of bilingualism
amongst younger anglophones. When an anglophone presents himself or herself for
service, there is a perception that in all likelihood this is a bilingual
person. Myself, I usually start off in French and then people say, "Cutting,
can I practice my English with you?" I say, "Of course, I will be delighted."
However, when we deal with elderly people, we know that their level of
bilingualism is significantly lower. This is where we encounter the difficulties
of the missing generations. It is perfectly anticipated that with people in a
family structure and a community structure, if an elderly person needs to go to
the hospital or have special services, someone of a younger generation takes
them and assists them. This is not just a linguistic factor, but a factor of
living in a community in a society that is multigenerational; this is the way we
We have noted in one of our projects that we have isolated anglophones, not
isolated little pockets but isolated anglophones who do not have anyone to
connect with. We are trying to develop those connections. Sometimes the
connections are with francophone families.
I am not sure we would be able to say anything different from any other rural
community at this time.
Senator Seidman: Difference or similarity, I think it is interesting
either way. I thank you very much for that response.
We have talked about access, and specifically we talked about hospital
access. What about other health services, front-line services, seniors'
residences, basic prenatal care, the whole gamut of preventive services, all the
services that one might expect? Could you tell me about the availability of
access in that regard?
Ms. Marini: A lot of services in English are available. We are
thankful for projects that exist at CHSSN that allow us to work at developing
these networks, not just creating a database of the existing services, but
finding ways to communicate the existence of these services to the community.
This is a big issue as well. If the services exist but the community does not
know about them, then they are not being used. That is a big, big factor as well
in community access.
Senator Seidman: You are talking about dissemination of the
Ms. Marini: Absolutely.
Senator Seidman: That is clearly a challenge. Do you have local
newspapers, community centres, the normal ways one thinks of in trying to get
this information out?
Ms. Marini: Absolutely. The Townshippers'Association has different
initiatives that include coffee mornings, which are mornings where we will phone
people up and say we are having a community breakfast or a community coffee
morning where you are welcome to come and sit with us. We will have members of
different community organizations and health service providers that will be at
these coffee mornings talking about the services that exist, always in English.
We have different network newsletters. We have teleconferencing. There are
many different ways to access, but there is nothing like the community
involvement and a friendly phone call. It is often the lack of resources to do
the phone calls and get these people out that have prevented us from reaching
everybody. We do what we can, but the initiatives do exist.
Senator Seidman: To take this one step further, clearly what you are
talking about in terms of services and dissemination of the information requires
good relations among many different parties involved in delivering health and
social services — provincial, municipal, regional hospital centres, CLSCs. What
kind of connections do you have with them? How cooperative are they and how much
can you use their systems to help you?
Ms. Marini: There is massive participation on behalf of our network
and on behalf of the staff at Townshippers' Association to sit on different
boards, different consultation tables and different discussion groups, and that
is how we get the necessary information that we then deliver to our community.
The investment of time and resources is immense. We have staff members who can
sit on as many as 12 different community tables. We are doing it to the best of
our ability. Is it sufficient? We are seeing results, but it could be more.
Senator Seidman: I will reserve my right to ask more questions.
Senator De Bané: Thank you, Madam Chair. First of all, Mr. Cutting, I
have some questions about your brief.
It contains a lot of acronyms and abbreviations. I have no idea what they
mean and I am very sorry that for some of them I do not know whether they are
names or acronyms. Could we receive by email each of those acronyms, the full
name, their purpose and what they do so that I can understand better?
Mr. Cutting: That is a fairly easy request for us to fulfil and we
will do that.
Senator De Bané: I did not know that this disease of the federal
government bureaucracy had permeated up to Lennoxville. There are so many of
these acronyms in your document.
In that document, you pointed out about 20 challenges and issues that need to
be dealt with. Yesterday in Quebec we had other presentations. It was sad to
listen to them because they pointed to very serious issues.
In your presentation there is a sentence that goes further than everything I
have heard up to now. I will read it to you. In the last paragraph on page 4,
you say the following:
English-speaking Quebecers are the least likely . . . to feel that the
interests of their community are represented by their provincial government.
Then you give a reference, Pocock 2009, page 87.
I would like very much to have that reference. This is a main point. They
feel they are represented by their provincial government less than anybody,
particularly now, where the premier comes from this region and from a family
that is bicultural.
Does that quotation from Pocock really reflect what is felt by the
English-speaking community of Quebec?
Mr. Cutting: That, again, is probably one of the most difficult
questions to respond to because there is, I believe, a profound difference in
being able to make statements based on statistics that have been gathered and
experiences that one may have lived that were more anecdotal.
Perhaps I could share with you some of the anecdotal experiences that I have
had. I will reference it particularly with youth. I might even be able to bring
it down to my point of view.
I have two sons, both of whom left of province, one of whom has returned to
the province and one of whom, if he had an opportunity to be with his family,
would also return. Some of the movement that took them away was a perception
that English was not wanted; it is identified visually. The sign law says that
one language must be larger than another. What happens psychologically to a
young person who grows up with that, it permeates and the message comes out as,
"You are not as tall as, not as big as, not as good as." The development that
happens unconsciously is one that could take a larger number of our young people
away, until they find that the experience they can have in Quebec — and there is
no way of getting it except through experience — is in fact extremely rich.
However, one must be willing to say, "Hey, wait a minute," which is something
that I think is characteristic of the Townshippers. We will not let a barrier
stand between us and achieving success because we can learn French and we can
work in French. We can have a life that is full and meaningful and still
participate in our own English culture and our own English communities. To have
a full and rich life, one must be able to access the greater Quebec society.
In that sense, I would say that what you are probably getting here and what
is read in the statistics is an institutionalized form of — maybe it was not
conscious, but the impact is that it teaches a lesson that the two linguistic
groups are not equal and one is greater than the other.
Majority groups are again another factor. What I try to tell young
anglophones is to look at what the francophone community has been able to do;
look at the vitality, look at the entrepreneurship, look at where that community
has gone by not accepting the premise that we are not equal. I know it is a
The answer to your question is very complex, but it comes down to a form of
perception. The perception is that opportunity lies elsewhere and that the
government is not sticking up for me. If they were sticking up for me, why do
they not do something? The current debate on the implications of Bill 103 is
perhaps an example of that.
Senator De Bané: However, that perception is really based on reality.
When you see that there are 1 million English- speaking people in the province
and their presence in the Quebec public service is less than 2 per cent, that is
not an idea; it is based on reality. They are not there.
When you look at the huge department of education in Quebec City, the group
of people who deal with education in the English language are a tiny number of
30. Of those 30 people, English is the mother tongue of only two. What is this?
When I look to all those issues that you mention, I count about 20 — high
unemployment, low income, educational attainment, access to health services,
out-migration, et cetera. The Townshippers by themselves do not have political
weight. Those in the city of Gaspé do not. The Lower North Shore does not. In
Quebec City, they are 1.8 per cent, and they do not have political weight
When you say you are not represented at the provincial level, I do not think
there is a heavy-weight minister in the provincial government from the
English-speaking community in Montreal. Is there?
Mr. Cutting: I would not venture into an answer on that one.
Senator De Bané: I am old enough today to tell you that I remember all
the years previous when there were some very heavy-weight people in cabinet
representing the English-speaking community in Quebec.
Mr. Cutting: I remember that as well.
Senator De Bané: We have to take stock of that and think about it.
Madam Marini said the cooperation from Canadian Heritage in Ottawa is perfect.
The word she used was "amazing."
Ms. Marini: It is encouraging.
Senator De Bané: Yes, you feel you are respected by them and they
Those 1 million English-speaking Quebecers represent a very important group.
I think it is worthwhile to think about how to effectively harness the political
weight of that population. It is not normal that they are so politically absent
in Quebec City. Personally, I find that it is not normal, not correct. We have
to think about how to achieve that in the right way because you have a critical
mass of people that will carry your imprint.
Mr. Cutting: I just saw one of the key signs through your body
language. We will take it.
I, along with a great many other people who are in the Townshippers'
Association, support the idea that the only way to take back that role and that
place is by active participation. One of the transitions of the English-speaking
community is that in many ways we became a very characteristic and good minority
group. Minority groups, in general, are taken care of by the majority because
they have to be. They are disinherited, they have less, they have this, they
For us to become active again, we must take the initiative and the
responsibility not as "angryphones" — I think that is very important — but as
active members of this Quebec society. At the same time, we have to convince
those people in the francophone majority that we are not out to displace them;
we would just like to have equal opportunity. Why are there not more people in
the civil service? The explanation used to be that anglophones like to go into
business and francophones like to go into the public service. Again, that
thinking was based on myth.
You are quite correct in that we must construct a way for a rather large
group of people not just to be on the outside waiting for things to happen to
them, but to be on the inside making things happen. That is a tremendous
challenge, particularly to incite young people who I think more and more tend to
be disengaged from what they see as the political arena because of scandals and
That will have to be done primarily through a combination of education and
educators because educators are those who train all other professionals. How do
we get on with this business of "revitalizing"? That is a key term. Not to
create new vitality, but to revitalize a community that used to be active,
dynamic and participatory.
On the negative side, I have only one short comment. I pose this as a
question, not a statement. Politically, it may be that no political leader in
Quebec wants to be seen as doing something that could favour the English
community. It may be that it is more politically advantageous not to be seen as
someone who is cultivating the English community.
Again, I pose that as a question, so please do not make statements tomorrow
that will lead me to immediate alienation from people I get along with quite
Senator De Bané: I hear you clearly. I can understand that in the past
this defensive attitude toward the English could be explained by different
things, where today it is exactly the opposite; there are more English-speaking
people who are bilingual, et cetera. The universe has changed in the province,
yet we are still prisoners of paradigms that totally have no basis in reality.
I personally think it is an extraordinary asset that we have the two most
important cultures and languages of the Western world in this province. What an
asset, and it is a pity that we cater to the people who have to —
— how would I say it, expressing feelings of insecurity.
You gave us an extremely serious presentation with a lot of substance. I
would be interested in getting the reference to that book, the one where you
mentioned page 87 in the second edition, 2006. It interests me a lot.
The Chair: Senators, as your chair, I have decided to add an extra 5
to 10 minutes, seeing that there are senators who would like a second round of
Would you mind, sir and madam, if we added a few more minutes to our
Ms. Marini: I would like to take two seconds to comment on something.
The Chair: Please go ahead.
Ms. Marini: You said it very well that unfortunately, as an anglophone
minority, even on the political side, we are constantly forced to defend our
rights instead of promoting our assets. We have a multitude of assets that we
are unfortunately unable to promote. Given the opportunity to promote these
assets, not only will we appeal more to our youth, we will offer support to our
older generations and we will help maintain the middle generation and make
increases on every positive level.
Senator De Bané: You are asked to justify the right to exist.
Ms. Marini: There you go.
Senator Fraser: Mr. Cutting, I liked your statement that it is
important to assert oneself but not as "angryphones." I liked that very much.
Money is tight in all governments, but supposing that modest sums of money
could be found, where would you put priorities? I can think of a whole range of
things that would be so good for this community. I will give you some examples
of the things that come to my mind: outreach, more training, and maybe bonuses
for bosses who hire in the federal civil service, which, although it
statistically does better than the provincial civil service, is still not all
that one might wish.
Perhaps there could be tax incentives for employers to hire members of
language minorities and give them language training on the job. We know that
on-the-job language is often very different from anything you can learn in
school. It is not the kids' fault or even the schools' fault if he does not
understand the semiconductor business.
Perhaps there could be job training for young people and more data gathering
about everything from health needs to you name it.
Where would you put money? What would you identify as your priorities for
federal money or negotiations with the provinces to help municipalities provide
more services, such as more translation? What would you do?
Ms. Marini: It is almost like you are asking a mother to pick a
Senator Fraser: I know.
Ms. Marini: That is not a fair thing to do.
There are so many issues that we could address. Absolutely, youth are a major
concern: outreach to youth; retention of professional youth; being able to
increase services and mentoring programs to encourage youth to stay in school;
dropout prevention programs; communicating existing programs better; accessing
the community directly; being able to better communicate with the different
levels of government, provincially, municipally and federally. Fortunately, due
to initiatives like this very one today, we do feel that we are being listened
to and that is unbelievable.
For any community member to feel like they belong to their community —
whether we are talking about youth, artists, older generations — being able to
voice their concerns and having someone listen to them is the number one way to
get a person to feel like they belong in a community. For us to be able to do
that for our community at all levels of government would be a priority. To be
able to strategically coordinate all our efforts in all the sectors and to be
able to pronounce the needs and be listened to would be an amazing opportunity
and definitely where efforts would be put.
Senator Fraser: However, it is a one-shot deal. We will not come back
three months from now and three months after that, so please think about it and
write us a letter. I am quite serious. We will be making recommendations, but
clearly our recommendations are to the federal government. To the extent they
involve any kind of relations with the provincial government, they have to be
negotiated. As a federal institution, we do quite a lot in terms of direct
relations with minorities. You know better than we do how that works.
Ms. Marini: Outreach projects to youth, immigrants and artists,
Senator Seidman: I am probably following along in Senator Fraser's
footsteps. I do not know if this is repetitive or if it will move continuum
First, I would like to congratulate you both for giving an extremely serious
presentation, extremely thoughtful and very heartfelt. It is very much
I would like to know if there is something we, the Standing Senate Committee
on Official Languages, and/or the federal government can do to help you. What
can we do to improve our role in helping to foster growth and development in
this minority language community?
Mr. Cutting: Perhaps I can start it off, and then I will pass it over
to Ms. Marini.
I have to start my answer with a perception. I have worked in higher
education myself for over 35 years, and one of the things that we lived through
were transfer payments specifically designated from the federal government to be
used for post-secondary education. For a number of years, those dollars hardly
ever found their way to the college system, the CEGEP system.
We made representations on numerous occasions to federal officials. We
learned that no federal government was too keen on interfering in an issue such
as language and education, which, along with health care, are supposed to be
One of the things that might be most important for your committee is to take
the message back that at times it may appear to be a highly touchy issue, an
issue that is in fact explosive. The challenge is to find ways and means of
dealing more directly with groups that would benefit from the funding and to
open up channels of communication with the provincial counterparts in order to
try to get over this obstacle that has existed for years.
On the specifics, I will refer to Ms. Marini because she is the person in our
organization who is most knowledgeable about project construction and reporting.
She is the go-getter who has access to details that I am at times completely
baffled by. She understands them. I would want a more precise answer, so I will
turn it over to someone who can provide that answer.
Ms. Marini: As I mentioned, extra effort needs to be given to having
the opportunity to communicate our needs and to be listened to and consulted
with in different areas, such as more active participation at the community
level and the development of more community initiatives.
If we cannot expect an increase in resources, a guarantee to maintain
existing resources would be a weight and stress off our shoulders. We are
working so hard with the little we have that a guarantee that those resources
will remain is one thing. We will always try for more, but to know that we have
stable resources from the different levels is something that we can definitely
As I said, open communication would be great as well as being able to provide
outreach to the community. People need to know that their voice is being heard
at the community level and that there is an opportunity to share this voice with
the provincial, federal and municipal levels. Any type of open communication at
the different levels in an effort to promote community initiatives would be
Senator Seidman: Thank you very much. That is very helpful.
Senator Fraser: You said that you used to have funding to meet
face-to-face with comparable anglo organizations across this very large province
and you do not have that any longer. Where did the money come from and when did
you lose it?
Ms. Marini: This was prior to my employment at Townshippers'
Association. However, the knowledge that has been shared is that there used to
be a very active network among executive directors of both regional and sectoral
associations. It offered support, networking capabilities and training sessions,
and the sharing of professional experiences, which is something that we rely on.
We need to know which doors we can knock on successfully. Again, it comes back
to communicating at the community level among ourselves to share knowledge
bases, which is as important as being able to communicate these knowledge bases
with higher authorities such as yourselves. That is what we think is greatly
The Chair: Mr. Cutting and Ms. Marini, my sincere thanks for your
presentations and for your answers to our questions. You are clearly very
knowledgeable about the situation that you laid out for us and that you are
working on in partnership with others. It is very moving. Thank you for that.
I would like to give you a message from our committee. We are the Committee
on Official Languages. Our mission, our mandate, is to see that the Official
Languages Act is respected. That means that no one should forget that Canada has
two official languages, and that Canada has two official language minority
communities. My community is one, since I am a francophone from outside Quebec,
and your community is the other. Our responsibility is to make sure that the
federal government does not forget its obligations towards minority language
communities. That is why we chose to visit the English-speaking community in
Quebec, an official language minority community.
Once again, thank you and good luck.
The Chair: I would like to welcome our next panel, the Quebec
Anglophone Heritage Network and its representatives, Mr. Roderick McLeod, Past
President; and Richard Evans, Treasurer and Founding President.
Mr. McLeod and Mr. Evans, the committee thanks you for having accepted its
invitation to appear today. The committee invites you to make a presentation of
approximately five minutes, after which the members of the committee will follow
Mr. McLeod, you have the floor.
Roderick McLeod, Past President, Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network:
Thank you. I prepared a scaled-down version of the presentation in front of you,
which I seem to have left in the office, so I will condense as quickly and as
conveniently as I can.
Honourable senators, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to you today
about the state of anglophone heritage in Quebec. It is a pleasure to do so here
at Bishop's University, which is one the oldest academic institutions in Canada,
founded in 1843, and one of the anglophone community's major schools of higher
learning. Ten years ago last June, it was the site of the founding of the Quebec
Anglophone Heritage Network.
QAHN is a provincial organization dedicated to promoting an understanding and
awareness of the experience of English speakers throughout Quebec's history. It
is non-profit and non-partisan. In no way does it challenge the province's
existing linguistic and cultural realities, but affirms the contribution of its
English-speaking heritage, which is shared, incidentally, by a large number of
today's francophones, thanks to complex family histories.
QAHN receives the bulk of its funding from the Department of Canadian
Heritage but for the past seven years has also received a regular operating
grant from the provincial Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la
Condition féminine. QAHN operates largely in English given that the vast
majority of its membership is English- speaking, but it collaborates frequently
and is a member of the largely francophone Fédération des sociétés d'histoire du
Québec. At all times, however, we recall our key function, which is to
contribute to the future of English-speaking Quebec by preserving the story.
As a provincial organization, we serve the needs of anglophone heritage
communities in all corners of the province. By "heritage" communities I mean,
of course, all English-speaking communities, but also a great many communities
that have rich anglophone histories but a rapidly vanishing or even largely
long-departed English-speaking population.
You will have heard of the fragile state of many anglophone communities in
Quebec due to urbanization and out- migration. QAHN exists to ensure that the
rich anglophone heritage of places such as the Saguenay, La Mauricie, the Lower
St. Lawrence and many other regions is not forgotten. Again, our best regional
allies are frequently interested francophones who value this history.
QAHN's core membership consists primarily of historical societies and
regional museums, many of which are quite small, understaffed and underfunded.
Historical societies exist to study and preserve local heritage, including built
heritage in the form of houses, churches, schools, barns, et cetera. Preserving,
let alone restoring, such structures most often involves cooperation between
local citizens and various levels of government. Certainly capital funding from
all sources is very scarce.
One of the problems faced by anglophone societies is having to operate within
a political and legal structure that is primarily French speaking, requiring a
level of technical expertise that many do not have. QAHN helps by linking
societies across the province so they can share experiences. This can take place
over the phone or, on a larger scale, at one of the conferences that QAHN
organizes. QAHN has also put together successful workshops on how to work with
various levels of bureaucracy when trying to preserve a building. We also
produce a magazine on heritage issues, a copy of which I circulated to all of
you. It is called Quebec Heritage News. We operate both a website and a
number of heritage Web magazines.
In my presentation, I go on to speak about a number of projects we have
undertaken over the years, most of which have the function of linking member
organizations across the province and creating databases of information that can
be useful for all members throughout the network.
We have two very different sets of experiences within this provincial
organization. One is the rural and one is the urban.
In Montreal, despite having the lion's share of the province's
English-speaking population, there are few historical societies, which is our
key member group. To a large extent, this is because the pace of urban life and
the variety of cultural groups makes citizens disinclined to join neighbourhood
organizations, while the concentrated population allows people to meet for
countless other purposes.
Heritage groups that do exist are often very informal in nature, with
irregular membership. QAHN has encouraged such groups to be part of a larger
network, achieving notable success through its Montreal Mosaic symposium in
Even so, ethnic and linguistic differences continue to keep some urban people
from feeling at ease under the heading "anglophone." Many key institutions
also appear reluctant to acknowledge their own significant roots within the
anglophone community, which often complicates our efforts to collaborate with
them. Although much important heritage preservation work is carried on by the
municipal government and by Héritage Montréal, neither has a particular mandate
to focus on anglophone heritage.
QAHN, we believe, has the potential to play a key role by highlighting the
English-speaking elements in the urban built environment, particularly as they
pertain to cultural communities. QAHN has frequently worked with the Greater
Montreal Community Development Initiative in promoting heritage activities.
I then go on to speak about our aging volunteer base, our heavy reliance on
volunteers and how the fact that they are aging presents a problem, and our
efforts, as many groups I think have, to make inroads with youth. Our own
particular efforts have involved working with schools, which is very difficult
given the extremely tight time lines that teachers are under and the tight
budgets, and also organizing essay competitions and even video competitions.
We have two major outreach tools. We have our magazine — again, which you
have copies of — and here I would like to point out that this is an almost
entirely volunteer-driven publication. We would very much hope to have funding
at some point to be able to pay people to contribute to this venture. The
problem with not having such funding is that it is very difficult for a magazine
such as this to remain on top of issues, to present focal issues, and to be a
fully functioning communication tool because we are at the mercy of what a
volunteer might wish to contribute. We also have a series of heritage Web
magazines, which are online magazines, and the same problems apply.
Ten years into its existence, QAHN has established vital links and
relationships. It has created a structure for crucial collection and
dissemination of heritage information and has proven itself as a holder of
engaging conferences and workshops, but it has the potential to do much more and
to become a real service to the community and to the needs of Quebec's diverse
heritage. The larger story of Quebec has within it many stories that must be
preserved for future generations.
The Chair: The first question will be asked by Senator
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Welcome, gentlemen. My warmest
congratulations go to the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network for its excellent
project under the Spoken Language Online Multimedia Initiative. The project's
objective is to preserve and promote the oral history of the English-speaking
cultural heritage in Quebec.
I would like to add a little aside before I ask my questions. I was president
of the Société historique de la ville de Québec. I have to tell you that there
are a huge number of links between French-speaking and English-speaking history
in Quebec City. People certainly have to be taught that the banks were in the
hands of English-speakers, as was ship- building, so that lumber could be sent
to England, as well as a lot of other areas. The histories are really
You briefly mentioned the work you are doing with students in schools. Is it
your impression that English-speaking schools make a big enough contribution to
enriching the culture of young anglophones and promoting the history of the
English-speaking cultural heritage in Quebec? Are you able to exert any
influence in the schools? I want to know whether, in the English system — which
I am not familiar with because I taught in the French system — history is well
taught and whether young anglophones are aware of how rich their history is.
Mr. McLeod: I do not think that you can really criticize the teaching
program. We found that it was very difficult to influence the teachers.
Sometimes, it is impossible for them to change what they are required to do for
the year. Sometimes, some teachers are especially interested in projects such as
our essays or video competitions, for example. I do not know exactly how it
happens, but they find the time, they find a small group of students who are
able to work together after school. It happens sometimes. At our end, we just
send out the challenge and wait. Sometimes we get very interesting responses.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: It means that, at English-speaking schools,
history courses are not important or strong enough.
Richard Evans, Treasurer and Founding President, Quebec Anglophone
Heritage Network: I just get the impression that teaching regional or local
anglophone history is unfortunately not adequate. That is what we hear in our
discussions with professors, teachers and students. Two years ago, I went to a
conference with the Townshippers' Association that took place over several
weekends of study and discussion. There were representatives like me from the
grey-haired — or bald — set, and there were young people, students. A part of
the discussion time was spent on heritage.
In a group of 20, there were three or four young people, very recent
graduates from the high school here, who knew no history. Honestly, I was the
only one of those 20 who was able to tell a little bit about the history of the
Eastern Townships and how its English-speaking population came about as the
result of a series of events that created a culture, an English-speaking
heritage. It was clear that the students in school were not getting that
I also get the same impression here and there when we are discussing the
general state of affairs with our historical societies. In the last decade, I
was a member of the board of directors of the Fédération des societies
d'histoire du Québec for a while. We had a number of francophones, retired
teachers, who were not satisfied with history teaching in the schools.
They were trying to approach various departments and were looking for all
kinds of opportunities to make representations. Unfortunately, with the changes
in the school curriculum, it seems that the truth is that teachers are almost
never able to do a number of things during the year. They have no time to
discuss history in general or in depth. There is no funding to get students out
of the schools, visiting museums and looking for sources that would teach them
about their heritage. Basically, it is sad that something so important has so
One of your colleagues, Senator Laurier LaPierre, spoke at one of our
conferences. Those of you who know him know that he is a forceful, serious man.
In his view, the tragedy in the education system was when history was replaced
by social studies. A lot of people regret that change, but we have been stuck
with the change of direction and thought for several decades.
A lot remains to be done. Unfortunately for us, the control lies with the
provincial department of education, and everyone knows it. Maybe something can
be done in the area through work experiences for students and the members of our
historical societies and little museums. They could hire students during the
Those programs have a lot of problems: there is no consistency, no
continuity, the forms are hard to fill in, all kinds of difficulties. Maybe you
could use your influence to provide better continuity; maybe that is a federal
government area. I am sorry to have taken so long to answer your question.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: It is important. You have quite the
challenge, I feel. That is a pity; I also think that history courses have been
cut back a lot on the francophone side too. Thank you very much for your
Senator Fraser: Thank you very much for being here. I think the work
you are doing is really important. I myself find it incomprehensible, but we
know that not everyone in life is interested in history. However, it is
important to catch those people who are, because they are the guardians of
memory; and if we do not know where we came from, we do not know where we are or
where we are going. That is what you are doing. It is a great service. I think
your magazine is absolutely terrific. I am ashamed I did not know about it, and
I would like to subscribe to it, please.
However, that said, there are a couple of things I would like to ask about.
Has your funding been stable, and how much do you get from Canadian Heritage, if
I might ask?
Mr. McLeod: The funding has been, I think, relatively stable. We have
a grant from PCH at the moment. For the last two years it has been $95,000. Our
executive director is in the room; I hope he will bark if I am wrong. That is
the figure we had in the last two years.
Senator Fraser: Two years constitutes stability in this world, does
Mr. McLeod: Yes. It has also been a two-year contribution agreement,
which is a nice thing to have. We do not have to go back to the table at the end
Senator Fraser: That is terrific.
What do you receive from the provincial government?
Mr. McLeod: For longer periods, we have received a stable $15,000, so
we look at that as about one eighth of our income. It used it be more like one
Senator Fraser: It is encouraging.
Mr. McLeod: It is very encouraging that we have continued to get that
because I think we are sending a good message.
Senator Fraser: I was struck by the note in your brief that one of the
problems faced by anglophone societies is dealing with institutions that appear
reluctant to acknowledge their own significant roots within anglophone
community. May I ask, therefore, how are your relations with the Montreal Museum
of Fine Arts and the McCord Museum, to pick two examples out of the air?
Mr. McLeod: We do have not any real relations with the Montreal Museum
of Fine Arts that I am thinking of, although that is an interesting idea. We
should possibly pursue that.
We have, I would think, a very good relationship with the McCord Museum, and
I will say, if I can say it carefully, that it is the result of a fair amount of
negotiation and fine tuning. I understand entirely that they have a complicated
agenda, being an institution with clearly an anglophone name, and yet they have
a wish to appeal not only to a francophone audience or museum-goer audience, but
also to an international body of visitors. They have to be careful of appearing
to be identified too strongly with any particular organization or any particular
political movement, real or perceived. I think we have managed to hit the nail
on the head with them on a couple of occasions, but it is not a question of
walking in and saying, "Okay, this is what we would like to do." I would say
it is par for the course for institutions, and while I am not saying it is
always agreeable to have to go through that process, perhaps we could say that
is just the way things are.
Senator Fraser: You have taken upon yourselves a vast task, not just
of writing memory but right down to the preservation of cemeteries, which is a
great task. Clearly, you do not have enough money. There is never enough money.
In the context of there never being enough money, where do you put your major
priorities? Do you get money from private foundations? Have you explored that
kind of thing? Do you do any fundraising on your own, or are you entirely
dependent on government funding at this point?
Mr. McLeod: We certainly have explored that. We have not received any
major contributions from the private sector. In fact, recently, we had a
discussion about this, so the conversation goes on. It is not an easy thing to
To a small extent, yes, we raise money through some of the events that we
hold. They are probably not even self- sustaining. It makes events that much
easier to hold, but it does not add to the kitty necessarily. Yes, these are
constant issues of concern.
There does not seem to be any substantial way to get away from major
dependence on government funding.
Senator Fraser: What are your priorities in light of the scarcity of
Mr. McLeod: I will speak to that and Mr. Evans will contribute as
Excluding wonderful ideas that we end up applying for project money to
pursue, I think one of our priorities is to always be a service that links
people across the province, not just small isolated communities that never get a
chance to speak to each other, particularly on heritage issues. It is also
bridging that gap — which is a work in progress — between the urban mentality
and that set of problems and the rural ones as well, through having a presence
and an office, having communication tools and so forth. That, I guess, is the
major, core priority.
Senator Fraser: Do you have a relationship with the national archives?
Mr. McLeod: We do not have a formal one. We have worked with people
who work there, and it has been useful in some regional exhibitions, but it is
not a formal partnership of any sort.
Mr. Evans: I will try to make clear that we are, as an identifiable
organization, not the doers of the heritage field. The members of the society
are part of the network. That is where the work is done. Our goal is to add
something that allows them to be more productive, effective and to interact with
each other to the greatest extent possible. We want to encourage them to network
as a network and find amongst each other the resources any one of them may not
You are quite correct that the task is enormous. The passage of time is harsh
on historical things, and there are so many people out there who want to do so
much and there is never enough. You are quite right.
In the early years, we tried to achieve registered charity status for our
organization, and were refused repeatedly. Unfortunately, we filed a formal
request within a month of the 9/11 events in which charitable status was rigidly
scrutinized, and we never were able to break through that barrier. Regarding the
identification that we are an umbrella organization, the registered charity
people said that alone disqualified us from being eligible. We spent a long time
trying to find a way to get to the next level because it put a barrier in the
way of being able to do a lot of fundraising on behalf of our members. We are
still working on that, incidentally.
When you look across the corporate funding field, which is willing to put
money into heritage things, it is a very small portion of the orientation. It is
not very sexy; let us face it. I think Mr. McLeod mentioned earlier that it
became evident to us when we started this whole effort that capital was the
crying need of a local organization in trying to preserve heritage. There does
not even begin to be enough money from all the sources put together. The need is
so much greater than what is available that we all have to find ways of helping
people prioritize and do what can be done with what is available.
Unfortunately, many historic buildings need uninteresting work done to them —
roofs, drainage and sewage systems. It is hard to find people willing to put up
$1 million in support of the Dr. John Allingham sewage project, for example.
They would probably prefer support a department chair of nuclear physics, which
has a lot more appeal. However, the rest of it is nonetheless real, and part of
our effort to see if we can ultimately, with time, encourage more commitment of
capital on a continuing basis.
Senator Seidman: Gentlemen, this is a bit of an eye-opener for me, so
I appreciate hearing about it. I must admit I am sad to read that not much is
happening in Montreal, and even to read in your presentation to us that many key
institutions also appear reluctant to acknowledge their own significant roots
within the anglophone community, often complicating efforts to collaborate with
We all know and recognize that one's history becomes part of one's culture,
and shared experiences over generations are what provide a context for us and a
sense of identity.
We have also heard here, as we heard in the two previous days in Quebec City,
that anglophones seem to have a real problem with identity. If recognition of
that does not even take place in the schools — you cannot even encourage
teaching of history or interest in the educational system — where else can you
turn? What about the media? What relationship do you have with or what role do
you see for English media — TV, radio, newspapers — to promote heritage in an
effort to highlight anglophone history?
For example, every week in The Gazette there is a column that focuses
on historical context and a piece from the newspapers some 100 years ago, or
whatever. There is an attempt to reach out and try to understand anglophone
history, but it is minimal. Do you see a role for the English media?
Mr. Evans: Yes. I think the difficulty is space, things that catch the
public eye. We will never be on the front page. Unless something astonishing
happens, we will be buried deep in the media somewhere. If we are on the
electronic media, television or radio, it will be when they need to fill space
or they have made films to play at a certain time and they have two minutes open
and do not know what to put on. We have to live with that reality and do not
have the capability, unlike a major corporation with large funds, for doing
public communications work.
An institution like the Department of Canadian Heritage can play a
significant role doing what it can to contribute to that higher level of
awareness. I do not know where it is in their system of priorities, in their
hierarchy of needs, but I think it is a function that can be useful and
I was delighted to hear you use the word "identity" because that is at the
top of my mind with everything we do. It is about identity. We talked about
students. One of the first requirements of a student entering a school system is
to develop a sense of identity: Who am I? What am I a part of? What made me "me"? What makes my community? What is my community identity? I was delighted
to hear you use the word "identity."
You mentioned the Montreal situation versus the rest of the province. I would
say the problem in Montreal for organizations like ours is lack of continuity.
Out here and throughout the province, people in the anglophone communities in
these areas have a sense of the local history. When you go to a milieu like
Montreal and look at the anglophone population, most is on the West Island,
which does not have a deep history as far as the anglophone community is
concerned. They were not involved very much before about 1930. If you go to
places like Laval, they do not have a sense of local history. Therefore, the
link for them is to be part of things like Irish societies, the cultural and
community groups. Our need there is to work with them to encourage that kind of
networking, some of which works well and some of which does not.
As Mr. McLeod mentioned that sometimes groups are reluctant to come too close
to us because the word "anglophone" makes them nervous for some reason. That
is a partial answer to your question.
Mr. McLeod: I think I share the answer about the media in that it is
difficult to attract the attention of the media unless we go to places we do not
want to go politically — not even want to but have no mandate at all to go to.
That brings up the question of identity because it is a sensitive point.
However, I cannot overemphasize how important it is to keep thinking about our
own surprising discoveries when it comes to using the word "anglophone" or
simply saying that we would like to get together and talk about our history and
our stories, focusing on people who have identified with the English language.
We find convoluted ways of trying to say what we are basically about.
We have met with a great deal of success, but it is a hard bit of negotiation
to go through. It struck me that the notion of "what is an anglophone" is not
something that comes up all that much outside of the Quebec context. I think the
communities have probably a better sense of what they need and where they come
Incidentally, a discussion within the last year or so that I remember being
part of with community people and representatives from the Department of
Canadian Heritage revealed to me that francophone organizations outside of
Quebec do not have, on a provincial level — some on a provincial level but not
on a national level — organizations specifically devoted to heritage. If I am
wrong about that, that is great, but if I am right, then we certainly would be
interested in discussing that further. If there was any help along those lines
it would be most appreciated because it brings us to an opportunity to continue
to discuss this notion of identity and what constitutes an anglophone. It is a
subject that can be driven into the ground, but it is one that is constantly
coming up. It is one that people in Quebec are extremely sensitive to and will
be for many years as we explore linguistic diversity, as well as religious,
cultural and ethnic diversity. They are all hot button issues that overlap the
question of language. That is something we find very interesting but we do not
find it easy. However, it has to be explored to get at the question of
identifying the problems of this particular minority community. Thank you for
Senator Seidman: Thank you very much for the insightful responses.
Mr. Evans: I would not want this to be lost: In the brief, Mr. McLean
has pointed out that, in many parts of the province, if the history of the
English-speaking communities that were there is to be preserved or is being
preserved, it is locally interested francophones who take that on their
shoulders. We have a number of examples across the province where that is
happening, areas like Beauce, Lac-Saint-Jean. Fraser House in Rivière-du-Loup is
an example. Francophones run the historical societies preserving Irish and
Scottish heritage. There were once vibrant Scottish communities where Gaelic was
the language 100 years ago, and they are gone. They have annual Scottish Days.
It is the local francophones who preserve this Scottish heritage and have les
journées écossaises. We are not going to discourage that at all. The more they
do that, the better, and it is important that we have the ability to encourage
Senator De Bané: You say that your core membership is historical
societies and regional museums. The historical societies that I know collect
documents, books and letters, and when we enter those historical societies, we
see all those documents there.
When I enter the McCord Museum or the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, I see
essentially works of art, paintings and sculptures. Do you deal both with
regional museums and regional historical societies?
Mr. Evans: With most of them it is an overlap. Many of the local
societies operate museums and have large collections, buildings full of
artifacts. Here in the Eastern Townships region, there are six local historical
societies with museums. Five of those are based on historic counties, like
Compton County, Richmond County and Stanstead County. Some have long histories
going back over 100 years.
Senator De Bané: Without doing a breakdown of English and French
regional museums, how many small regional museums are in the province of Quebec
Mr. Evans: You might recognize 25 or 30 as a museum. I do not want to
get more precise than that, but many historical societies do not operate
collections on any significant scale.
Senator De Bané: Yes, most of those that I know have documents but no
collections of things, et cetera.
Now that I know there are about 30, one of the problems faced by anglophone
societies is having to operate within a political and legal structure that is
primarily French speaking, requiring a level of technical expertise many do not
That reflection, of course, applies to any other interaction with the
Government of Quebec — any other program — whether it is health, economic
development, tourism, et cetera. One of our problems is to operate within a
political and legal structure that is primarily French speaking.
If I look to the department of education, they do have a tiny, minuscule
directorate for English-speaking education. Does the department of culture in
Quebec, the major body that gives grants to regional museums, have something to
deal with specific English-language museums and historical societies, or do they
Mr. Evans: I am not aware that it is tagged as such. I do not believe
it is, but over the years, my observation, including a period of time when I
presided over a local historical society and museum, is that generally they are
very good about not linguistically differentiating. There is not a prejudice. In
fact, in some cases, particularly here in the Eastern Townships, there is within
the directorate of the ministry of culture a sense that the thing that makes the
Eastern Townships different is its anglophone history. The minister of culture
feels that regionally that is something to promote, and there is l'Estrie and
Montérégie where this is in effect. I think, in general, they are supported to
If you also take that to what started as the Fondation du patrimoine
religieux du Québec, which is now the Conseil du patrimoine religieux du Québec
— I do not know why they changed their name — they have been very supportive. I
think they have bent over backwards, in a sense, to support the preservation of
historic English churches.
Senator De Bané: Can we say, Mr. Evans, in short, that the following
comment is not based on reality?
One of the problems facing anglophone societies is having to operate
within a political and legal structure that is primarily French speaking.
Your comments negate this statement.
Mr. Evans: Not entirely, no. Let me do what I can, not as the author
of the comment but to clarify the misunderstanding.
The challenge for the local people who operate those entities is to have the
capability to interact with the French milieu and to understand the legal
framework within which they have to operate. Part of the legal framework is that
if they are to receive funding, they have to operate bilingually. Then they need
to have a good translation capability available to them, which is expensive.
Just as it is for everyone else, as Senator Fraser mentioned, money is tight.
Senator De Bané: The raison d'être of QAHN is to link societies across
the province so they can share experiences. You show them how to move about in
this universe that they do not know much about.
Mr. Evans: We try to help.
Mr. McLeod: This is a particular reference to the legal issues because
so often a restoration project depends heavily on an understanding of land law
and regulations, and that can be complicated. I am not suggesting it is more of
a problem than someone with an illness who cannot necessarily understand the
nature of the problem from a doctor speaking another language; of course, that
is a very serious matter. However, I think it is a good deal more of a problem
than, say, the tourism industry. I do not think people tend to avoid travelling
in certain places or going out for a meal just because they may have a little
bit of trouble with a language. These are aspects of everyday life, and, of
course, there are all kinds of aspects of the economy that are not affected by
Senator De Bané: After a few days of listening to different groups on
some of the other issues that we have dealt with, I have found that the
English-speaking community is not getting a fair deal.
I understand the problem, for example, that the administration is French and
they have very few officials whose mother tongue is English. I understand very
well the difficulty that you have explained. However, your problem is relatively
manageable compared to all the others we have heard about, whether it was
medical, health care, education, et cetera.
Mr. Evans: Ours is narrower, sir.
Senator De Bané: Yes, I think it is.
Mr. Evans: It is less varied. Our challenges are not so wide-ranging.
Senator De Bané: Exactly. When I am talking with members of
francophone historical societies, their complaint is that Quebec government
representatives talk to them a lot, but when the time comes to give out money,
they are nowhere to be found.
Mr. Evans: You made me think of one area that touches on some of the
things that have been said here. Earlier there was mention of cemeteries,
because cemeteries are an important preservation of history. There is a question
of uncertainty about cemetery protection and preservation. It is constantly
shifting ground, which makes it difficult for interested local groups. The legal
status of cemeteries that have been a part of and attached to the French
Catholic Church is different from other types of cemeteries. That is where legal
uncertainties abound. One wanders into a no man's land of uncertainty where
seemingly almost no one has a comprehensive overview of what clearly is the law.
In our case we had projects and we continue to have projects to encourage the
protection and preservation of cemeteries.
There is a secondary element in this that I do not know if anyone has had
occasion to mention to you. Cemeteries as well are repositories of art. Art is
stolen and traded, and art in cemetery monuments is subject to theft; sometimes
theft on demand. We do not know much about it, but there are such things as
international conventions on illegal trafficking. I am not sure what Canada's
status is today, but as of a few years ago Canada had not signed the
international convention on the illegal trafficking of such things. I think it
might be worthwhile if the Senate could examine the status of that today.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: I would just like to know how you are doing
with your list of cemeteries. Have you done a lot of the work? Is it a simple
Mr. McLeod: It was a project for four regions: the Estrie, the
Laurentians, I cannot remember the others exactly. It was just a start, to see
if it was possible. We gathered information on a large number of cemeteries in
those three or four regions. The list was the first part. Then, the next thing
is what is to be done with the cemeteries that are beginning to disappear.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Are there a lot in the region that have now
disappeared because of vineyards, for example, or things like that?
Mr. McLeod: There are places where, at the start, people were buried
in a field, in a small section of a field. Now it is all built on or abandoned.
Yes, we must find the old cemeteries again.
Mr. Evans: You could say that they are in any kind of state you can
imagine. Some cemeteries are in a serious state of neglect, others are lost in
woods, some monuments have been pulled up and thrown into hedges, and, in some
cemeteries, buildings have been put up.
The RCMs are trying to bring up these problems so that the sites can be
recognized as heritage sites and potentially as tourist sites. Tourists come to
see the cemeteries.
Mr. Evans: Many Americans come to our historical societies looking for
their roots because the anglophone community disappeared and spread all across
North America. These are, in a sense, a commercial resource in that they bring
in heritage tourists.
Mr. McLeod: You may not know that the Montreal offices of the
Department of Canadian Heritage are built on an old cemetery, which no longer
exists, of course.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: I did not know that. Thank you very much.
Senator Fraser: I would like to come back to a couple of issues raised
earlier, and the first is the media. What I am about to say is not a question,
but I cannot resist making this small comment.
I would agree that the media are a terrific way to promote a sense of
historical identify, to contribute in that way to identity. I spent many years
at The Gazette in Montreal, and the columns by Edgar Andrew Collard, whom
you will recall, and now by John Kalbfleisch are terrific parts of the newspaper
within the newspaper. They are not seen as space fillers; they are seen as part
of the newspaper that people like to read, but not everybody. Not everyone reads
everything in a newspaper. I, for example, never read the sports pages, but
The key is to find someone who can bring a journalist's talent to the telling
of those stories. The material is available, if only in the archives of the
paper. It is the most tremendous retirement project for a journalist. If you
could lay hands on a retired journalist with an interest in the history of this
region, I would bet you would find a paper that had some space to print stories,
maybe not at such length as a few years ago in The Gazette — not
historical theses, but stories that week after week build identity. Sorry, end
On the matter of education, has anyone tried, are there any programs, is
there any way that Canadian Heritage could get involved in the production of a
small book or booklet about the history of English Quebec? Do you know if anyone
has even looked at this for students ages seven through nine, for example?
Mr. McLeod: That is an interesting idea. It comes back to the
Senator Fraser: If it were there, if it existed, then you could tie it
to an essay contest or something.
Mr. McLeod: Yes. I think if it existed that would probably be worth
pursuing. If it existed, I am sure it would find an audience within the school
population, with teachers as well as students. It would not hurt.
Senator Fraser: Do you know if anyone had this idea and tried it and
doors were slammed in their face and it never worked?
Mr. McLeod: In terms of the creation of it or the distribution of it?
Senator Fraser: The funding and then the distribution. Funding would
be for creation and distribution.
Mr. McLeod: Funding with that kind of a purpose and end, no, I do not
think that has been done at all. I certainly have been a party to some talk
about an interest in having another go at creating, say, a book related to some
relative date, but that is at a different level than what you are referring to.
No, that has not been done, but it is something to think about. Again, one
would have to work it all out in terms of distribution strategy as well.
Senator Fraser: Clearly I am not talking about having it made a formal
part of the curriculum because it will take 25 years to get the ministry of
education on board. I am talking more about an add-on.
Mr. McLeod: For that reason it might have an audience. I would be 100
per cent sure it would have at least a small audience or a following that would
pick it up. Getting a slightly bigger one would be an interesting challenge.
Mr. Evans: The Department of Canadian Heritage has had, over the
years, a lot of fine publications. I recall that when I had more occasion to go
into the Favreau Building, there was a room in there with a very strong storage
of many fine publications on history and heritage works. However, that is not
where you want them. How do you get them out of there and into the hands of
Senator Fraser: I have one last question. Do you have any relationship
at all with Parks Canada?
Mr. Evans: Only rarely.
Mr. McLeod: On occasion. We have people contributing to our magazine
who have connections there and issues come up. They could be pursued, but again
it is not a formal relationship.
Senator Fraser: A cemetery is not a national park, but they do such
terrific historic work that I wondered if there was any kind of planning.
Mr. Evans: Parks Canada participated at one of our conferences where
we discussed broader issues of historic places.
I am glad you brought that up because you have reminded me that one thing we
have lacked in this country, coast to coast, is a national registry of
historical places. The United States has had one for well over 100 years, and we
have been talking about it in Canada for about the same length of time. As far
as I know it does not yet exist. I think you would do a yeoman's service if you
rang the necessary bells in Ottawa to move it on centre and get a national
registry of historic places going.
The Chair: This is very interesting. Unfortunately, we have to bring
this meeting to an end. On behalf of all the members of the committee, I would
like to thank you very sincerely.
Mr. Evans and Mr. McLeod, there is no doubt that the work you are doing is
As you put it so well, there is no doubt that we have to know about our roots
in order to know where we are going. On behalf of the committee, thank you