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

  • Indian farmers ramp up protests against farm laws

    World News CBC News
    now Source
  • Barbers in Afghanistan's Helmand Province are now prohibited from shaving beards and playing music

    World News CTV News
    Barbers in Afghanistan's Helmand Province are now prohibited from shaving men's beards and playing music in their shops, according to a statement issued by the province's Taliban-led department of virtue and vice. The new regulations mark the latest in a series of restrictions placed on the people of Afghanistan based on the Taliban's strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law. Source
  • China to reduce abortions for 'non-medical purposes'

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING -- China will reduce the number of abortions performed for "non-medical purposes," the country's cabinet announced in new guidelines issued on Monday. The State Council said action would also be taken to avoid unwanted pregnancies and to encourage men to "share responsibility" in preventing them. Source
  • India's farmers renew protests, challenging Modi government

    World News CTV News
    NEW DELHI -- Thousands of Indian farmers blocked traffic on major roads and railway tracks outside of the nation's capital on Monday, marking one year of demonstrations against government-backed laws that they say will shatter their livelihoods. Source
  • Fredericton housing crisis leaves some newcomers living in wretched conditions

    Canada News CBC News
    Hamadi Hamisi and his family spent 10 years trying to survive on meagre rations in a refugee camp in Kenya, living in a mud house with a bamboo roof. This year in Fredericton, as newly arrived refugees looking for a place to live, they stood in a dark, dank basement apartment, where mould grew on the walls, there was no proper ventilation, and the single, tiny window in one of the three bedrooms was broken. Source
  • Businesses, schools and cities to observe National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

    Canada News CTV News
    As the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation approaches, Alana Hogstead has decided as a small-business owner to close up her shop in honour of the day. Hogstead co-owns Martha's Music in Camrose, Alta. Source
  • A guide to COVID-19 school outbreak protocols across Canada

    Canada News CBC News
    Students from kindergarten to Grade 12 across Canada have been back in class for a few weeks now — but that doesn't mean a complete return to normal, as some schools report COVID-19 outbreaks among students and staff. While every province and territory defines the term "outbreak" differently, all have released plans that outline how public health officials will help schools manage an outbreak on a case-by-case basis. Source
  • Forced to sit out during pandemic, nurse calls for changes to Ontario's registration process

    Canada News CBC News
    When her Canadian wife was offered an exciting new job in Thunder Bay in the summer of 2019, Christy Tashjian and her family made the big decision to move from Texas to northwestern Ontario. Trained and working as a nurse practitioner in the United States, Tashjian told CBC News that she didn't think it would be a big deal to transfer her licence and get her registration to work in Ontario. Source
  • Search for Brian Laundrie continues as authorities comb through swampland

    World News CTV News
    As authorities continue their second week of searching tens of thousands of acres of swampland for Gabby Petito's fiance, Brian Laundrie, they are also seeking out new evidence in the investigation. FBI agents returned to the Florida home Laundrie shared with his parents Sunday, as seen in video shot by CNN. Source
  • Strong earthquake rattles Greek island of Crete; 1 dead

    World News CTV News
    ATHENS, GREECE -- A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.8 struck the southern Greek island of Crete Monday morning, killing one person and injuring several more, authorities said. The quake sent people fleeing into the streets, while schools were evacuated. Source