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Quebec sisters afraid to go school, say racism complaints ignored

Click to play video: 'Allegations of racism surface at Collège Bourget'
Allegations of racism surface at Collège Bourget
WATCH: A Montreal-area family is speaking out about racist incidents they say took place at a local private school. Felicia Parrillo reports – Feb 1, 2023

A young Black student says troubling instances of racism at her school have gone on for years.

She attends College Bourget, a private school in Rigaud, Que., and says there have been countless times when other students have called her the N-word and have even pulled her hair.

She claims to have reported the incidents to staff at the school — but her complaints have been ignored.

“(They would say), ‘Oh, maybe he said it by accident, or she said it by accident, it wasn’t on purpose,'” she said. “‘You’re wrong about it — it wasn’t at all like that.'”

Her mother, who has another daughter who also attends College Bourget, says her children are afraid to go to school.

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“She lied to me some days because she didn’t want to go to school, because at school she was not feeling safe,” she said.

In an email to Global News, the school says it plans to work with the family to find solutions to their concerns.

“Staff members have received training to give them tools to intervene in an appropriate way to help students understand different realities by different students,” said the school’s executive director Philippe Bertrand.

“The school will be accompanied by an expert in order to assess the situation and make sure best practices are adopted when it comes to prevention and intervention so every student feels safe and accepted, despite their differences.”

But the Red Coalition, a non-profit lobbying organization whom the family contacted last week for help, says those measures don’t go far enough.

The coalition says the school — both staff and students — need to be educated about Black culture and it also wants the government to step in.

“It’s extremely important for our premier, François Legault, and the Coalition Avenir, to recognize the existence of systemic racism,” said Joel DeBellefeuille, the group’s founder. “It’s not just in law enforcement, it’s in every single institution where there is a repetitive incident or issue regarding race.”

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The Red Coalition says it’ll be filing a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission on behalf of the family.

It also wants Quebec’s education minister and Quebec’s minister responsible for fighting racism to launch an investigation into systemic racism at the school.

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