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Quebec Plans To Send Ukrainian Refugee Children To French Schools

But the Ministry of Education says there could be exceptions or a transition period.

Contributing Writer
Parked yellow school buses in Quebec in winter.

Parked yellow school buses in Quebec in winter.

As we reach the three week mark in the war in Ukraine, Ukrainian refugees have been at the top of everyone's mind. For the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA), the question is whether refugee students will be allowed to attend English-language schools when they arrive in Quebec.

"René Levesque and Camil Laurin ensured that there was a humanitarian clause for education in the English system in the Charter of the French language and this is a prime example of the use for such a provision," QESBA President Dan Lamoureux said in a recent statement.

Lamoureux pointed out that many Ukrainian kids already speak English and argued they don't need the added strain of learning a new language right now. "The nine English school boards encourage the government to show compassion and let some of them attend our schools, on humanitarian grounds, where they will learn both French and English," said Lamoureux.

On the flip side, the Ministry of Education intends to keep Ukrainian kids in French schools, upholding the same practices as they have with other refugee groups in the past. But there could be exceptions.

"Schools and school service centers/school boards are used to welcoming refugees during humanitarian crises," Ministry of Education spokesperson Florent Tanlet told MTL Blog. "Think of the reception of Haitian and Syrian refugees in recent years. As Bill 101 states, Ukrainian refugees, like all other newcomers, will be welcomed into the French public system."

"On the other hand, we could provide for a transition period and exceptions, if necessary," Tanlet added. "The goal is to welcome and help families fleeing the Russian regime, but it is still too early to determine what will happen next. The federal government has not yet given any details on the arrival of refugees in Canada."

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