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Last Fall, I was visited here by my Vancouver niece with her husband and their two girls. I had not seen this family since Danica (who now is seven years old) was a crawling baby, and there was not yet a sister (who is now five). My whole family there has never lived or worked outside of Vancouver, and is cognizant of Quebec and language issues only through their own educational and professional, all English, experiences.
The highlight of the Montreal visit was a celebratory brunch for all of us: lovely downtown restaurant, three adults, and two beautiful, chattering little girls who were allowed to order their own grown-up menu lunch. A handsome grandfatherly waiter patiently attended this lot, and accorded the kids the deference that he gave to the adults. The parents and one little girl ordered in English, I ordered in half French and half English, and Danica ordered in French. I was astounded, the parents complimented her on this “immersion course” initiative. The waiter was totally seduced. I have never had better service in any Montreal restaurant.
Danica’s sister is on a waiting list for her immersion French course in Vancouver. She has been on that waiting list for four years. I am informed that the numbers quota for her entry time may be a problem. She may have to wait for a drop-out on the list.
Parents are taking the lead in telling us that Canada is not meeting its obligations of being a fully bilingual country. Here in Quebec, parents are making similar demands, or seeking private school placement for English education. It is time that we supported, and pushed, our politicians and educators for a truly bilingual education.
The issue of Bilingual Education in Canada needs the pressure of a strong political movement across the country I hope that all parents, and educators, across the country can unite to ignite such a fire.