Recreation of the Battle of St Denis, pitting Lower Canada (Quebec) *Patriotes* against a British Army force. The *patriotes* won the battle, led by English speaking Dr Wolfred Nelson. The Anglophone leaders have been completely ignored by *revised* history promoted by Quebec nationalists, and also in the new provincial history course.

Recreation of the Battle of St Denis, pitting Lower Canada (Quebec) *Patriotes* against a British Army force. The *patriotes* won the battle, led by English speaking Dr Wolfred Nelson. The Anglophone leaders of the 1837 rebellion have been completely ignored by *revised* history promoted by Quebec nationalists, and also in the new provincial history course.
Photo Credit: (series) Canada: A People’s History

Whose history is right: Controversial new Quebec history course

The government in the mostly French-speaking province of Quebec is proposing an new history course for high-school students (teenagers) in the province.

It has raised several concerns among history teachers, especially in English schools who say it reflects Quebec “nationalist” ideology and mostly ignores non-francophone groups in the province.

John Commins a teacher in Quebec  for 27 years, is currently teaching students aged 14-16 at Pospectives-II school in Montreal. He was also a member of the enlarged committee involved in the vetting of the last history reform in the province from 2003-2007.

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John Commins has been teaching in Quebec for 27 years. He says the proposed new history course has a narrow *nationalist* political view and ignores the diversity and contributions on non-Francophones to the province while also protraying them in opposition to Francophone nationalist aspirations.
Quebec teacher John Commins says the proposed new history course has a narrow *nationalist* political view and ignores the diversity and contributions on non-Francophones to the province © Raffy Boudjikanian/CBC

The new history curriculum is called “Histoire du Quebec et du Canada, but  Commins says there is virtually nothing about Canada, and what is there is presented in an antagonistic position against the aspirations of Quebec French-speakers.

He notes that the Quebec nationalist movement criticized the last history course and the nationalist Parti Quebecois (PQ) vowed to change it, towards an emphasis on the Quebec nationalist movement’s efforts to become a separate independent nation. When they were briefly in power, they did just that.

Oscar Peterson, 1986. An international musical ambassador from Quebec like Jewish author Mordecai Richler whose novels made Quebec known world-wide. Critics say Quebec’s diversity is completed put aside in the new provincial history course.
Oscar Peterson in 1986. An international musical legend and ambassador from Quebec much like Jewish author Mordecai Richler whose novels made Quebec known world-wide. Critics say Quebec’s diversity is completed put aside in the new provincial history course. © Bill Becker- via Radio-Canada

Commins says the proposed new curriculum is highly politicized.  He says Quebec is a diverse society, but the new proposed history does not portray it as such, and that English speakers, immigrants, and aboriginals when mentioned at all, are portrayed in a generally antagonistic position against the French speaking majority.

It ignores the contributions of non-French speakers to the history and development of the province. Commins notes that English-speakers once were the majority in Quebec’s two major cities.

Montreal is the biggest city in Quebec and the population was once mostly English-speaking who created many major institutions such as the universities and hosptials while contributing to it being the most important business and cultural city in Canada until the 1970’s. Facts left out of the new Quebec history course.
Montreal is the biggest city in Quebec and the population was once mostly English-speaking who created many major institutions such as the universities and hosptials while contributing to it being the most important business and cultural city in Canada until the 1970’s. Facts left out of the new Quebec history course. © Associated Press

 He notes that in his first teaching assignment to the Inuit in northern Quebec, the government history course failed to mention them at all except for one sentence. He said they eventually developed their own history course. In a Canadian Press article, he suggested that perhaps English-speakers in Quebec now should demand a separate history course which would similar to the case in northern Quebec, and what French-speakers in the neighbouring province of Ontario have.

Although the education minister has since said revisions will come, Commins notes that the pilot is set to begin in just a few month’s  and doubts whether there is time to make changes.

additional information-sources

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/s%C3%A9bastien-proulx-new-history-curriculum-representative-1.3487853

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Posted in Education, History, Politics, Society

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