Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal protested in large numbers Thursday afternoon in front of College Notre-Dame after the Commission Scolaire de Montréal decided that singers would no longer be able to attend the private school and will be forced to transfer to the public sector.
“It’s simply not a solution that is acceptable and it’s not one that we can live with,” said Andrew Gray, the choir’s artistic director.
For 63 years, an agreement with the public school board has allowed the choir members to be educated at their practice facility at private school College Notre-Dame, but now the CSDM is transferring the singers back to public school.
According to Les Petits Chanteurs, 90 per cent of their members will quit if they are forced to transfer as it would add two hours to their daily commute.
“It’s not simply for the logistics but it’s for the health physical and mental health as well as the educational health for every child and every family that this impacts,” said Gray.
The elite choir is a program that supports artistic boys who have been singing at Sunday masses at the St-Joseph’s Oratory for decades. Students are upset that they might never be able to sing with the choir again.
Julian Knight has been in Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal choir for eight years and he is devastated that the legacy might not carry on.
“For this to be all gone in just a couple years I find that quite saddening,” he said.
Philippe de Montigny has been singing with the choir for many years but his brother might not get the same chance. The young singer says his brother, who is currently in fourth grade, won’t be able to be a Petit Chanteur if the school board doesn’t change its mind.
“It was like a dream for him and now it’s breaking his dream,” said de Montigny.
Pierre Arcand, the leader of the Official opposition, says this isn’t a financial issue but an issue of clashing ideologies.
“It is to me total non-sense and I urge the government to intervene and to try to make sure that we save les petits chanteurs,” says Arcand.
The province passed a unanimous motion asking the school board to find solutions to keep the choir alive in May, but now the choir is calling on the education ministry to intervene.
“I hope with 100 per cent of my being that the government the ministers of education and culture will come to our aid,” said Gray.
The choir insists it won’t give up their fight to save the beloved program.
Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal will continue to sing Sunday masses at the oratory this summer.