MONTREAL – Since the beginning of Quebec’s charter debate, students and teachers at Westmount High have made their stance clear: they will not follow any kind of bill that restricts some of their own staff and students from wearing religious symbols.
What started off as a weekly protest outside the school has now turned into something that they hope will be more effective in getting their message out.
They created a five-minute video called “A lesson in values for Madame Marois.” It’s about human rights and how these would be violated by the province’s proposed charter of values.
Watch it here:
The bilingual video is split into five different lessons, where students and teachers are seen reciting sections of the Quebec Charter of Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Quebec Education Program, which was introduced by Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois in 1997.
“It’s contrary to Quebec’s own charter of rights,” explained Robert Green, the teacher would put the video together.
“It’s contrary to the international norms of human rights, as expressed in the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration of the Rights of Children.”
But the leader of the Parti Quebecois doesn’t agree.
When Global News told her about the video at a press conference Tuesday, Marois defended the charter.
“I don’t think we are against the charter of human rights…we respect and we will respect the freedom of expressions of religious expression, I don’t want to make a barrier,” she said.
Even though the students aren’t old enough to vote yet, they see a lot of contradictions with some of the political platforms.
“It’s bullying, bullying people into not being who they are,” said secondary-four student, Talia.
“It’s something that in our school, since kindergarten, we were taught not to bully, we were told to accept everybody for what they are and who they are.”
Secondary-five student Una Million-Lovett agrees.
“Your religious expression is very much a part of your identity, so not being able to actually express part of who you are is very limiting, especially today,” she told Global News.
“We’ve come so far and it just seems like a step back.”.
Westmount High students are hoping the video goes viral, so that teachers and students in their hallways don’t have to compromise their own values if the charter becomes law in Quebec.