|WESTMOUNT HIGH SCHOOL TAKES A STAND AGAINST QUEBEC VALUES CHARTER|
MONTREAL, SEPTEMBER 13, 2013 – Passionate teachers and students took to the steps of Westmount High School on Friday morning September 13 to denounce the proposed Quebec Values Charter.
Leading the initiative was teacher Rob Green, who organized the rally in support of colleague Furheen Ahmed, who wears a hijab, as well as the dozens of students at Westmount High School who don religious symbols on a regular basis.
“As a staff at Westmount High School we are absolutely outraged by what this charter means by both for our colleagues here and throughout Quebec’s public sector,” said Mr. Green. “We also feel strongly that students from diverse ethnic backgrounds should have just as much a right to have role models in front of them in the classrooms as any other student. We worry about what this will mean for them in their future and what will happen to them once they graduate and enter the job market.”
“This proposal makes me really sad. It feels as if I am not welcome in my own home. I am a born and raised Montrealer, so this is my home,” added Furheen Ahmed. “It is my right as a Canadian and a Quebecer to be free and to practice my religion. If it does not conflict with what I’m doing in the classroom, then I do not see the issue. I would love for someone to show me one instance when a doctor wearing a turban, a teacher wearing a hijab or another civil servant wearing a crucifix has negatively influenced the people they served.”
Equally upset were the students of Westmount High School whom proudly stood shoulder to shoulder with their teachers in protest. “I don’t agree with this,” said Lee Mallon, a Grade 11 student. “There is nothing wrong expressing your religion, it doesn’t make you any different. Everyone is the same and it is wrong what the Parti-Quebecois is doing.”
“The charter of values proposed by Mme. Marois goes against our values,” added Ginette Sauvé-Frankel, EMSB Commissioner for Westmount and parts of N.D.G. who represented Chairman Angela Mancini at the event. “We are a multi-ethnic board, Montreal is a multi-ethnic city and we need to reflect the values of everyone. This is excluding people, and that is not part of my values or the board’s values.”
Michael J. Cohen