Premier apologizes for 1912 law banning French in Ont. schools

TORONTO -- Premier Kathleen Wynne formally apologized to Ontario's francophones Monday for a 1912 regulation that banned elementary school teachers from speaking French.

See Full Article

"Regulation 17 showed a disregard for Franco-Ontarian identity and equality, and on behalf of the government of Ontario I offer an apology," Wynne told the legislature.

The regulation was enforced for about 15 years before it finally fell into abeyance by 1944, a period Wynne described as a "wound" for Ontario's French-speaking population. Ontario did not officially recognize the right of francophones to receive French-language education in elementary and secondary schools until 1984.

"The government enforced regulation 17 for more than a decade before finally conceding that the policy was a failure, but it stayed on the books much longer," said Wynne. "The francophone community feared that Franco-Ontarian children were losing their language."

The government of the day stated it wanted to raise the quality of English-language education in primary schools, so it prohibited teachers from communicating with students in French beyond grade 2. Many schools and teachers refused to obey the regulation, so the government brought in another to take away school funding and teachers' certifications if they continued to allow French to be spoken.

"The tremendous courage and tenacity of Franco-Ontarians has not gone unnoticed," said Wynne.

"In just a few generations, Ontario has gone from a place that was at times resistant to diversity to a place that fully embraces different cultures and languages."

The premier dismissed the idea of compensation or reparations, and said the province was already making "concrete gestures" by providing French services and schools, and noted there is a debate about creating a French university.

"What's important right now is to acknowledge that there was a regulation in place that was not fair, that did not recognize the importance of the francophone community in Ontario," said Wynne.

"I think the changes that have been made over the last decades are very, very important in terms of recognizing the Francophonie in Ontario."

Sudbury Liberal backbencher Glenn Thibeault, who asked for the official apology, said it demonstrated that the government recognizes its past error.

"It's more than the apology itself," he said. "It's the opportunity to turn that page and say that the francophone community is now one that's rooted in our province."

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown called Regulation 17 "a black mark in Ontario's history" and said he supported Wynne's decision to apologize.

"It was wrong when it happened, and even though the apology is coming late, I'm glad that we're making it," he said.

New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath welcomed the apology to Ontario's French-speaking community and urged the government to keep increasing the services it provides in French.

"The lasting impacts of this assimilation policy created barriers to education for francophone Ontarians for many decades," said Horwath. "Francophone children do not always have access to French schools, and we still don't have a French university governed by and for francophone Ontarians."

Ontario is home to about 612,000 francophones, the largest French-speaking population in Canada outside of Quebec.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Canadians' view of U.S. deteriorated under Trump: global survey

    Canada News CTV News
    Canadians’ views of their southern neighbour and their confidence in the U.S. president are at a 15-year low, according to a major new survey of public attitudes in 37 countries. According to results of the Pew Research Center survey, just 43 per cent of Canadians now have a positive view of the United States. Source
  • NHL free agency: Big names, bargains and busts

    Canada News CBC News
    When the NHL's annual unrestricted free agent derby begins on July 1, who should your favourite team target? A number of high-profile names could be available, but many of them are unlikely to move. Source
  • Record-breaking Canadian sniper should be celebrated, Trudeau says

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The record-breaking kill shot by a Canadian sniper in Iraq should be “celebrated,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday, even as he insisted Canada’s mission in the battle-racked country remains a non-combat one. “What happened there is, first of all, something to be celebrated for the excellence of the Canadian Forces in their training, in the performance of their duties,” Trudeau told a news conference. Source
  • U.S. says Myanmar no longer among worst on human trafficking

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The United States asserted Tuesday that Myanmar is no longer one of the world's worst offenders on human trafficking, while removing both Myanmar and Iraq from a list of countries that use child soldiers. Source
  • Historic letter recalls time when Indigenous people were discouraged from 'excessive indulgence' in dancing

    Canada News CBC News
    When Sylvia McAdam posted a 95-year-old letter to Twitter, written by the former deputy superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs, it went viral. That's because in the letter, Duncan Campbell Scott expressed alarm at the increasing rate of dancing on reserves and instructed department staff to use "tact" and "firmness" to "obtain control" and "dissuade the Indians from the excessive indulgence in the practice of dancing. Source
  • Mental-health expert meets with Cape Breton parents after suicides

    Canada News CTV News
    SYDNEY, N.S. -- A mental health expert dispatched to Cape Breton after three recent teen suicides says he's "gobsmacked" by the willingness of grieving parents to help other children and prevent similar deaths. Dr. Source
  • B.C. leading rise in private school enrolment across Canada

    Canada News CBC News
    More parents across Canada are choosing to send their children to private or independent schools, according to a new study from the Fraser Institute. The study found that every province recorded a decline in total K-12 enrolment between 2000–2001 to 2014–2015, except Alberta, which had an increase of 11.6 per cent. Source
  • Teen's sex attacker 'exhibits great potential': Judge

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    SYDNEY, N.S. — A young aboriginal man who sexually assaulted a 16-year-old friend “exhibits great potential” despite a difficult upbringing and should not face a lengthy jail term, a Nova Scotia judge says. Judge James Chipman sentenced Davis Joseph Prosper to four months in jail in a decision the judge said took Prosper’s aboriginal status into account. Source
  • Toronto cop killer granted permission to travel to visit daughter

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The man found not criminally responsible for killing a Toronto police officer while driving a snowplow has been granted permission to travel up to 150 kilometres from his home in Ontario. The Ontario Review Board, which decides if and how not criminally responsible patients should be detained, has granted the leave for Richard Kachkar, who was deemed not criminally responsible for killing Sgt. Source
  • Royal pay hike: Queen to get a raise in 2018

    World News CTV News
    The Queen is about to get a raise, of sorts. The Sovereign Grant, which pays for the household salaries and official travel expenses of the Royal Family, will increase by eight per cent next year. Source