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Kahnawake school considering Grade 12 to avoid CEGEP language requirements

Click to play video: 'Bill 96 pushes Kahnawake to consider adding Grade 12 to avoid CEGEP language requirements' Bill 96 pushes Kahnawake to consider adding Grade 12 to avoid CEGEP language requirements
WATCH: The community of Kahnawake is now considering adding Grade 12 to their high school because of Bill 96. According to education authorities in the community, the aim is to find ways to encourage students to pursue post-secondary studies, a path they claim has been made more difficult because of the new language law. As Global’s Phil Carpenter reports, it's about giving students more options – Jun 16, 2022

There has long been talk about adding Grade 12 at the Kahnawà:ke Survival School, south of Montreal.

With the new Quebec legislation aimed at strengthening the French language in the province, the community wants to forge ahead with the plan.

“Our hope is to have it by September 2024 when the CEGEP clause of Bill 96 comes into effect,” said Falen Lakowennaié:was Jacobs, Kahnawà:ke Education Center associate director of education.

Bill 96 requires that English-speaking students at English CEGEPs take additional French courses, something indigenous communities including Kahnawà:ke say could deter students from pursuing higher education.

“They’re already struggling with having to do the French load that they have now,” argued Jacobs.  “They require a lot of extra support, tutoring.”

People living in the community stress that the law as an imposition, a continuation of assimilation and have asked for an exemption which the Quebec government hasn’t given.

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“Because right now it’s imperative that we find solutions that give our young people some semblance of hope,” Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer told Global News.

Read more: Amid anxiety from Quebec’s Bill 96, a Montreal private school announces Grade 12 program

Students would get the equivalent of an Ontario high school diploma, which means they could go straight to university without going to a CEGEP.

“This gives us that leeway to put some more intense cultural enrichment into the Grade 12,” Kanien’keha language teacher Kawenniiostha Jacob’s explained.

Read more: Quebec keeping a close eye on schools offering Grade 12 programs

Since the law passed some private schools have announced plans to offer Grade 12, while some have offered it for decades. However, the province’s education ministry says Grade 12 isn’t authorized here.

Jacobs believes the Kahnawà:ke Survival School Grade 12 diploma would be recognized.

“Within the recognition of our diploma there’s no stipulation that states that that diploma has to end at Grade 11,” she said.

Community leaders say adding the extra grade is about giving students more options.

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