Québec City, October 19, 2006 - The Québec Government should not only examine the definition of the "Quebecer" identity, it should undertake a public awareness campaign to encourage the broadening of the definition to integrate the racial, ethnic, cultural, and other diversity that is represented in the Québec society. That is one of the recommendations the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) made in its presentation to the Québec Government's consultation to develop a government policy on fighting racism.
"In today's Québec, we need to ask ourselves who decides when an individual becomes a Quebecer and what are the criteria to become a Quebecer?" observes Dr. Ayman Al-Yassini, Senior Executive Vice President of the Foundation. "It would seem to me that the understanding of who is a Quebecer has to include racialized peoples.Unless that understanding of who is a Quebecer includes racialized persons, it would be difficult to make any headway in building an inclusive, anti-racist society."
Al-Yassini was appearing before the Cultural Committee of the National Assembly which is conducting hearings into developing a government policy against racism and discrimination. He told Committee members that "race" must be part of the discussion about immigrant and cultural communities because the experiences of racialized immigrants are not necessarily the same as European immigrants.
"The use of the terms "immigrant" and "cultural" without regard to race in the consultation document appears to equate the experiences of immigrant and cultural communities as one and the same. It also suggests that race does not play a significant role in shaping the experiences of different individuals and groups within immigrants and cultural communities compounded by race."
The Foundation also wants the Québec Government to include the Aboriginal peoples in the discussion, even though the form of racism they experience differs somewhat to other racialized communities because of their history as the original inhabitants of Canada.
Among the other recommendations, the CRRF calls on the Government to focus on the institutional and systemic racism; that they should take a hands-on approach in directing the policy by establishing goals; pay particular attention to intersectionality, particularly with racialized women, and impact of racial profiling on racialized students as well as high drop-out rates. The Government should also not ignore the impact of, and the need for, the media to take its role and responsibilities seriously in promoting the measures of the new policy.
Finally, Dr. Al- Yassini, who was accompanied by Acting Chair, Andrée Ménard, and Education and Training Director, Sandy Yep, told the Committee that the Foundation is quite encouraged that the Québec Government is engaged in consultations with a view to address discrimination and the exclusion of racialized persons.