Montreal teacher’s future in limbo as Bill 21 comes into force

Click to play video: 'EMSB substitute teacher will be out of work once Bill 21 is law' EMSB substitute teacher will be out of work once Bill 21 is law
Substitute teacher Faiza Hussain works at Sinclair Laird Elementary School in Montreal's Parc-Extension neighbourhood. Once Quebec's religious symbols bill is passed into law, she says she will no longer have the right to teach in the province. Global's Billy Shields reports – Jun 19, 2019

The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) has taken to social media to underline the plight of one of its teachers.

Faiza Hussein is substitute teacher at Sinclair Laird Elementary School and a Muslim who wears a hijab.

As the school year wraps up she’s in doubt as to what the future could hold for her following the controversial passage of Bill 21, the Coalition Avenir Québec government’s secularism reform. The law prohibits civil servants in positions of authority — such as teachers, police officers and judges — from wearing a religious symbol such as a hijab, turban, or kippa while at work.

“I really hope it doesn’t come down to the fact that we have to move to another province,” Hussein said. “Because in all honesty, Quebec will be losing a lot of talented educators.”

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Hussein was born and raised in Montreal, attended EMSB schools and went to McGill University. She has never lived outside the province of Quebec.

“This is an illustration of how wrong the law is, of how unfair it is,” said Mike Cohen, spokesperson for the EMSB.

With the end of school only a few days away, administrators in the province like Sinclair Laird principal Derek Cauchi, are now scrambling to determine what to do should the government demand they shed faculty, like Hussein, who wear religious symbols.

“That is a serious question,” Cauchi said. “And I don’t have the answer. I hope that never happens.”

READ MORE: Quebec religious symbols bill to be challenged in court

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