Secularism at stake

At a time when Law 21 on the secularism of the State is cited in the dock by many groups who question Quebec’s right to legislate in this area, this enlightening work is timely.

Every time Quebec has wanted to discuss the secularism necessary for state employees in positions of authority, this desire to act has sparked an outcry and accusations of racism and discrimination have been raised.

There was the Bouchard-Taylor commission in February 2007; the tabling of Bill 94 by the Liberal government of Jean Charest, in 2011; the Charter of Values ​​of the Parti Québécois government, in 2013; Bill 62 from the Liberal government of Philippe Couillard; then finally law 21 of the Caquist government, thirteen years later. “At each of these moments, the principle of secularism has been discussed and debated at length by citizens, academics, representatives of different religious denominations, lawyers and activists defending the rights of ethnocultural minorities. and religious. “

This work aims to take stock of the specific nature of Quebec at a time when the courts are called upon to rule on the constitutionality of Bill 21, while addressing “the meaning of religious symbols in schools”. A dozen speakers, from different backgrounds, academics and citizens, tackle the issue of secularism from all angles: historical-sociological, legal, educational and communicational. This bouquet of arguments and opinions is as much support for Bill 21 and an important contribution to the public debate.

For Lucia Ferretti, “the Canadian model of religious management, which remains maximalist, very liberal and multiculturalist, favors the penetration of religious norms within the State, and it encourages fundamentalist interpretations”.

Political scientist and feminist activist Yasmina Chouakri, for her part, affirms that there are Muslim Quebecers in favor of Bill 21. “Opposition to Bill 21,” she said, is essentially based on the vision of a conservative Islam, not representative of the majority of Muslim women in Quebec. “

The lawyer and former Bâtonnière of the Barreau du Québec Julie Latour demonstrates how secularism “is the primary condition for the existence and full exercise of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion”, while ensuring “equality before the law of all citizens, without distinction of origin or religion ”.

The teacher Charles-Étienne Gill appeals to Marshall Macluhan and his famous formula “the medium is the message”. So a teacher not only transmits knowledge, he says, he is also part of the message. “A teacher who wears a religious symbol in class therefore actively sends a double message: that of his faith and that of the subject of the course. “

For those opposed to Bill 21, it “would complete the process of oppression of minorities which would define contemporary Quebec”. According to them, “the principle of freedom of conscience and religion, which emphasizes respect for individual convictions, determines the others. [principes comme] the principle of the neutrality of the State, and the obligation to respect it by those who are in its service in certain categories of employment ”.

To be continued over the next few weeks in court.

The Montreal Youth Refuge

The Youth Refuge, we hear about it once a year during the show by Dan Bigras. However, this spectacle of young people in difficulty lasts three hundred and sixty-five days a year. This book introduces us to these young Maganes and those who rub shoulders with them in their distress during their stay at the Refuge, “a place of appeasement of discouragement, anger, impotence and necessary revolts in the face of intolerance and ignorance. “. The phrase among a thousand that I remember: “Helping is not without risk and helping does not always help. Loving is not enough either. I now know that accompanying is undoubtedly a better posture: one that leaves the other the choice, the space and the freedom. Tears guaranteed, but also laughter and hope.

They get up again and again

There is another kind of roaming, different from the one that revolves around the Montreal Youth Refuge. It is that of aboriginal women, which we rarely talk about. This book, beautifully illustrated by multidisciplinary artist Meky Ottawa, gives voice to eleven Indigenous women, and through them, to all the others that we hear too little about. With modesty and feverishness, they tell us about their joys and their sorrows, their time in Native residential schools, their hopes too. “Listening with our heart to the stories of others allows us to identify with them and to recognize oneself in them. Let’s listen to them, we will learn from their experiences.

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