"The rules that the government have put in place have put children, staff (teachers, support workers, bus drivers, etc…) and family members at risk."
Claiming that some classrooms lack windows or "proper ventilation," the petition specifically calls for mandatory mask-wearing in classrooms and more opportunities for online learning.
LaSalle Community Comprehensive High School Principal Jennifer Kurta told MTL Blog that the administration "will not interfere with students choosing to participate in peaceful demonstration," but is "encouraging [...] students to weigh their right to peaceful protest against the risks of amassing as a group [...] the same day that we enter Zone Red."
She also said the regional public health authority and CNESST inspected the school on August 25 and reported no rule infractions.
In a statement, the Lester B. Pearson School Board said it "would like to reassure students, teachers, staff, and parents that our schools are well maintained, well ventilated and welcoming to ensure a healthy learning environment."
The student walkout was planned for 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 1.
The bill was first tabled by Quebec's Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Ian Lafrenière, in December 2020, and it was passed following consultations between the government and Indigenous families in Quebec.
The goal was to meet the needs of Indigenous families while respecting their "culture and language, and also their suffering," according to the ministry.
The ministry also said it hopes "to support families in their quest for truth and also in the healing process."
In 2019, a report by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called on the Quebec government to provide Indigenous families with information on children who had been apprehended following admission to a hospital or health centre in Quebec.
How does the new law work?
Once it's implemented on September 21, Bill 79 will give Indigenous families access to personal information from "a health and social services institution, an organization or a religious congregation" about the circumstances surrounding the disappearance or death of children admitted to a health and social services institution in Quebec before December 31, 1992.
The government will provide the information through exemptions to Quebec's current laws that prevent disclosing personal information.
Under the new law, Quebec's minister responsible for Indigenous affairs will also have the power to launch an investigation if government information could help Indigenous families, but can't be disclosed because of the province's existing rules on disclosing personal information.
How have Indigenous leaders reacted to the new law?
On June 14, leaders from the Cree Nation said that while the law is an important step to "apologize or begin to compensate for the harm suffered by Indian Residential School survivors," the scope of the law needs to be revised since Indigenous children "were taken and never returned" for reasons beyond medical care in Quebec.
The Cree Nation specified that Quebec's education system was the largest "pretext for the institutionalized abduction of children," and that the school system's absence from Bill 79 means more action is needed.
The Grand Council of the Crees stated that not all Indigenous youth or community members will feel comfortable contacting the Quebec government for help with traumatic events that were associated with "governments they do not feel are their own."
The Council recommended that Quebec put mechanisms in place so Indigenous governments can represent and serve the needs of their own people.
The 100,000 square-foot residence is designed specifically for 300 students, built with custom storage and a workstation in each room, along with two shared study rooms, colour schemes tailored to students' preferences and custom furniture by Werkliv.
Le Mildoré will be the tallest residential building in Montreal to be built of steel instead of concrete, and will only have bicycle parking. The temperature in each apartment will be controlled by a heating and cooling system that uses the building's water supply.
Rent will start at approximately $885 monthly per student, minus expenses.
Gender and sexuality identified as areas of difficulty
The school board passed a resolution at the end of March, banning the use of the n-word in its schools.
Testimony solicited from the public included accounts from both students and parents that shared their challenges and difficulties in LBPSB schools.
Through the accounts, the task force identified four major "recurring themes":
Gender stereotypes that dictate what is "appropriate" for boys and girls
Gender stereotypes that produce a "narrow understanding" of masculinity
Gender-based double standards
Bullying linked to gender and sexuality
The report found that schools' dress codes singled out girls by forbidding them from wearing spaghetti-strap tank tops, short shorts and crop tops, explicitly banning "clothing that is unnecessarily sexualised" and "skimpy or revealing clothing."
Parents offer accounts of sexism, racism, transphobia and homophobia
One parent said they raised their seven-year-old daughter without gendering her toys, but after attending first grade at an LBPSB school, she began to tell her parents that some toys were only for boys.
Another parent said, "My son loves the colors pink and purple, but he constantly tells me he doesn’t want to wear t-shirts in those colors to school because people have told him (other students) that those are girl colors."
Mothers of Black sons that attended LBPSB schools — which have a predominantly white student body, according to the report — said they felt their sons were being subjected to racism by teaching staff.
"One boy told his mother that his teacher just doesn’t like him because he’s Black [...] On one occasion in particular, the young man was suspended because the teacher said that she felt 'threatened' by him, however, the young man said that he didn’t do anything but ask why she was sending him down to the office," the report read.
The full report, including the Task Force's recommendations, is available here.
A gathering and march are planned in Montreal Thursday to "honour Indigenous children," "denounce genocide" and "demand justice" according to an Instagram post from Resilience Montreal. The event is part of the movement to #CancelCanadaDay.
The gathering will begin at Parc Jeanne-Mance at 2 p.m.
Indigenous children "were taken from their families and communities" and forced to "attend schools which were often located far from their homes," the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation states on its website.