Helping newly-arrived residents, especially women, learn the official languages and promoting a sense of world citizenship in schools are two of the recommendations put forth by the Bahá’í community of Quebec to the provincial government as part of a dialogue on the question of racism.
The paper submitted by the Bahá’ís comes at the invitation of the Quebec government to members of various cultural communities to consult about ways to combat racism and discrimination in the province. The recommendations will help shape the government’s future policy on the issue.
At the heart of several of the proposals made by the Bahá’ís is a consciousness of the common oneness of the world’s peoples, a key principle of the Bahá’í Faith. The paper makes specific reference to a program currently being funded by the Ministry of Education, Recreation, and Sport that helps local schools facilitate community service among their students. The paper suggests complementing the program by having the concept of world citizenship incorporated into school curricula in Quebec.
The paper also recommends ways to help newly arrived residents better integrate into Quebec society; most notably, by making it easier for them to learn French and English. Special attention is also given to women in minority communities. With research showing that mothers “have a determining influence on the academic success of their children,” they must be “provided with the means and opportunities to develop their capacities for their own betterment so that they may fully contribute to society,” the paper notes.
“We believe it is important to support this government initiative, which will help conceive and construct unity in diversity,” says Élizabeth Wright, Director for the Advancement of Women for the Bahá’í Community of Canada. “Our contribution focuses on the necessity of accepting the principal of the oneness of the human race as the first condition of such an effort.”
The recommendations also include calling on the media to avoid stereotyping cultural communities and making more extensive use of the arts as a force for cross-cultural understanding.
The government of Quebec invited citizens, representatives of cultural communities, and organizations from various sectors of society back in June of this year to contribute their thinking on strategies to curb racism in the province. The paper by the Bahá’ís, which was presented to Lise Thériault, Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities in late August, is the second submission by that community to the Quebec government. In 1995, a proposal was submitted to the Minister of Education at the invitation of the Commission on the General State of Education.
Read the full text of the Bahá’í submission here (in PDF format).
Read the original consultation document of June 2006 (in PDF format) issued by the Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities here.
Visit the Quebec Parliament’s website here for more information (in French only).