MONTREAL – As politicians in Quebec City sit in the National Assembly discussing the controversial Bill 14, students in a UQAM auditorium discussed bilingualism.
“There’s a myth being perpetuated by the present government that anglophones can’t speak French,” said Michael Cohen, a spokesperson for the English Montreal School Board.
“Bill 14 is really quite discouraging to all of us.”
About 500 anglophone high school and CEGEP students gathered at the campus Friday to celebrate bilingualism as part of a forum showcasing the use of French in Montreal’s English school system.
“It’s something they don’t get every day,” said Alyssa Kuzmarov, the event coordinator. “Often they just get grammar classes, or what they get on the news and they don’t get a sense of pride in the fact that they’re bilingual.”
Perhaps no one knows the value of bilingualism more than Montreal Alouettes, Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, who said that when he first started in the CFL he’d say things like “I hate heggs this morning.”
But over time and practice, his English improved.
“If you put some effort in it and you trust that it’s going to be important later in life, it brings you so much more,” he said.
Students echoed those sentiments.
Jessica Nicholas, a Beaconsfield High School 9th grader said, “being bilingual helps you with a job in the future: if you want to be a doctor, or police, you have to be bilingual.”
Some students even reported they were working on a third language, thinking of career opportunities in the future.
The event has been an annual occurrence for most of a decade, but this marks the first year it’s ever occurred while the Parti Québécois was in power.
“We’re showing a real love for the French language,” said Cohen. “I wish the sovereigntists would realize that. We just don’t want to be treated like second-class citizens.”