In his 25 years at John Abbott College, Police Technology chair Paul Chablo says he has never seen a group of SQ officers court his students in English.
“The SQ has come many times, but this is the first time I’ve seen the SQ do a PowerPoint recruiting session in English. I think it’s phenomenal. I congratulate them,” Chablo told Global News after the session.
In March, Chablo told Global News that the Montreal Police department does not send English speakers to recruit students.
He believes it’s part of the reason why almost half his students leave Quebec after graduating.
“They do leave because some don’t feel welcome in their own province,” Chablo said at the time.
Chablo has now witnessed a shift. The provincial police force sent an English-speaking recruiter, including a John Abbott graduate, to talk to students.
“It’s an amazing career,” SQ patrol officer Gabriel L’Heureux told the students. “You know what time you start, you never know what time you finish. You don’t know if you’re going to change someone’s life, or if someone might change your life for the better.”
Students know in Quebec, they will be working mostly in French. Chablo believes a simple English session can encourage students to stay in the province.
“When that first contact is made in the language you’re comfortable with, regardless of the fact they will spend their whole career in French, I think it makes a huge difference,” Chablo told Global News.
“We live in a French province and our job is mainly French. Them seeing me in English, they say, ‘Hey, I’m an anglophone. We’re walking in the same walk of life, he did the same steps as I did,” L’Heureux said in an interview after the recruitment session.
The SQ’s English presentation was a welcome change for students.
“I appreciate it,” said Melanie Brais, who is set to graduate next year. She said she’s fully bilingual, but that the English session created a better connection with the presenting officers.
“I think Global’s coverage had something to do with it,” Chablo said. “I mean it could be an effort on the part of the SQ, but it’s quite coincidental that a few weeks after Global’s last report, the SQ is at the College doing a PowerPoint presentation in English.”
The Montreal Police say they have sent English speakers to Abbott, though Chablo said he’s never met them. He hopes to SPVM follows the SQ’s lead.