The government's plan for a new class on Quebec citizenship and culture is already stirring controversy.
On Tuesday, the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) issued a strongly-worded response to the proposal, calling it an example of "the new nationalist ideology championed by Premier François Legault."
In a press release, the provincial Ministry of Education said the new course will teach students what it sees as the values that are central to Quebec society, covering topics ranging from the structure of the judicial system to national heritage to "responsible" social media use.
Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said that "calls for censorship, polarization on social networks and new controversies around freedom of expression" were part of the government's motivation to create the course, which will replace a previous class on religious culture and ethics.
"What kind of message to young people can be expected by a provincial government that is determined to deny the deep roots of discrimination and racism that make it a systemic scourge?" AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard asked in a statement.
He claimed that the Legault government's actions would teach young Quebecers that "the rights of the 'Quebec nation' in terms of culture, language and heritage are superior to those of other nations who share the territory and that this national supremacy is legitimate."
Picard suggested that the curriculum reform would stall progress toward reconciliation.
The Ministry of Education has said it developed the citizenship and culture class in consultation "with Indigenous peoples." On social media, Premier Legault promised the course would give students a "better understanding of the culture of First Nations and Inuit."
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