You have six months (bis) | The Press

“We need to force them to adopt French. »

Posted at 5:00 am

“Six months is more than enough and even generous.»

“They will never learn if we are too accommodating. »

“They have to fit. If they are not happy, let them move to Ontario. So come with them… ”

Here is a summary of the reactions of readers who disagreed with my column on Wednesday in which I was concerned about the effects of Bill 96 on the most vulnerable immigrant populations.1.

On the other hand, what also came out in the reactions of a large number of readers was clearly that I am not the only one to worry. I have received a lot of testimony from people working with asylum seekers and refugees, whether in schools or in francization, who see this aspect of the bill as inhumane and counterproductive. I think especially of the intense testimony of a school director in the region who told me how proud he was of the excellent French command to the refugee students he accepted. If the school succeeds in its mission, it is because the director, who has no access to interpreters, has formed a bond of trust with parents who find it more difficult to learn French. For this, he had to communicate with them for more than six months in English as a second language – something that would be banned and even punished if Bill 96 was passed in its current form.

If the trend continues, it will. The amendment proposed by Québec solidaire to extend from six months to two years the period beyond which newcomers will not be delivered in a language other than French (unless “health, public safety or the principles of natural justice requires so ”) was dismissed. Except for the last-minute outburst of empathy from Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, who could still suggest an exception for humanitarian reasons or even access to state-funded interpreters for asylum seekers and refugees , all of which indicate that Bill 96 will be accepted without consideration. its detrimental effects on the aggregation of these vulnerable populations.

One of the problems is that Bill 96 makes no difference between the franchise of highly educated economic immigrants and of refugees fleeing war and persecution, sometimes less educated. , which for whom day-to-day living is a challenge in itself.

We cannot expect that a family of refugees who landed in Quebec in the disaster, carrying with them a heavy baggage of trauma and living in dangerous conditions, will succeed in learning French with as much excitement as an immigrant. who chose to live in a French-speaking society and who developed his project over many years.

This does not mean that these people do not want to learn French or they lack respect for their host society. It simply means that in order to advance their francization, you need to offer them the conditions for doing so: time, flexibility and support.

“All my research shows that people want to learn French, they want to be included. But sometimes they don’t have the conditions to do it. We have to create these conditions,” said Garine Papazian-Zohrabian, professor at the University of Montreal and scientific director of the Interdisciplinary Research Team on Refugee and Asylum-Seeking Families.

The Legault government should be aware of this, as it has commissioned this researcher to conduct a study on the psychosocial needs of the most vulnerable immigrants to francization-those who lack education.

The research, submitted in April 2021 to the Ministry of Immigration, Francisation and Integration (MIFI), was never made public. As luck would have it, his recommendations to promote the study of French were completely in violation of Bill 96.

I personally asked Garine Papazian-Zohrabian for an interview after seeing that she was one of the co-signers of an immense brief submitted to the parliamentary committee on Bill 96, which was inspired by this particular research that was ignored. of the government.

The professor cannot pass this research on to MIFI to the public. However, as a researcher who continues to research these issues more deeply and insists on his academic freedom, he also cannot remain silent when he observes that what the government is proposing is contrary to the opinions of experts on the subject.

“It’s inhumane,” he said bluntly.

When some people say, “If they’re not happy, let them go back to their country or move to Ontario,” they forget that asylum seekers and refugees don’t choose to leave their country.

They did not specifically choose Quebec. They fled to the place where they would probably be accommodated, under the Geneva Convention. To be peaceful. So that their children are not in danger of death.

Forcing these people to take French courses once they arrive and imposing a six -month deadline beyond which they must understand French in order to have access to a public service is not the best way to promote their integration. Bagkos. Studies show that compulsive approaches are rather an obstacle to second language learning. A brake also on the sense of belonging of newcomers, observes the professor of psychopedagogy and andragogy.

The first months of exile are particularly difficult for young parents, who experience intense pressure and have to take care of both the needs of their children and their elderly parents. They try their best to reconcile work, family and franchise, to send money to their loved ones there while meeting the needs of their family here. We need to address the inclusion of children in school, with their health problems. You have to deal with grief and trauma.

In such a context, some of these refugees do not enroll in French classes because they have no other choice but to work to meet needs.

That is why they have nothing physical. When they still sign up, it doesn’t get much better.

“Yes, physically there, but absent mentally. Because they are always worried about their family being left behind in a country still at war. »

Sometimes they receive a phone call in the middle of class from a relative in Syria or Congo. “They found out about someone’s death while they were in class. “My cousin was killed…” How do you want them to study? »

To further complicate matters, the francization schedule is not aligned with the school schedule. Often, the parent – usually the mother – so has no choice but to leave to feed their children at lunch time or on teaching days.

In other words, for all these reasons, these newcomers need more than six months to actually learn French. “They want to learn. They are grateful to Quebec and Canada for welcoming them. But they need time to create benchmarks to be more open to learning. »

Why does the government order studies from experts, funded with public funds, and then propose a bill that goes against their recommendations? Mystery.

At MIFI, I was told on Friday that they had not sent me the study containing Garine Papazian-Zohrabian’s recommendations. Why? Mystery.

Since the state bureaucratic machinery also has mysteries and it happens that documents are carefully filed online, I typed the name of the researcher into the search engine of the MIFI site, just in case …


I was surprised by the answer.

“Try instead: margarine. »

Mind you, that’s still a good answer for a study that’s broken. After all, why even rely on studies to advance the franchise of newcomers when you can in turn surf this old cliché of ugly aliens who refuse to integrate?

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