Chairperson’s Report to Council for August 2023
At our last meeting, on June 26, 2023, I reported that as the end of the school year arrived, I heard and witnessed the absolute joy and excitement as the school community across the street from my house celebrated the beginning of the summer break. Today, in reverse, I can report on the nervous excitement as the same community gears up to start the 2023-2024 academic year this week. Welcome back LBPSB! We wish you only the very best in the upcoming 10 months. I am not sugar-coating the realities of the many challenges ahead of us; however, I would like to take the first steps forward in a positive light. Twenty-five years as the LBPSB is something we can all be very proud of.
When religious, or confessional school boards were legislated to secularize and transform into linguistic ones in 1998 by the Marois reform, the English community always knew we would have to dig in our heels to hold on to our very right to exist as linguistic, English school boards, with our own successes, signature, autonomy, vision, and management of our resources. We didn’t necessarily imagine that 25 years later we would be awaiting a court judgment from Judge Sylvain Lussier on our minority right to exist, separate from the French Centres de Services, based on very specific rights. Judge Lussier has ruled that several articles in Bill 40 (the Education Act) infringe on our Constitutional rights according to section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Whether English in Quebec of French outside of Quebec, Section 23 grants linguistic minorities, English and French, in Canada the right to manage and control our education systems. As of this evening we continue to exist and operate, status quo, as the Lester B. Pearson School Board. The Quebec government has until September 11th, 2023, to appeal the judgment. After that date, we will then have a clearer idea of the next steps for the nine English School boards and for the actions of the QESBA, the Quebec English School Boards Association.
This ruling is a victory for democracy. We should feel proud of the work done and of all of your contributions to defend our rights.
In closing, to repeat my conclusion from June’s report, I would like to extend a huge than you, in advance, to everyone at the LBPSB from the Council of Commissioners for everything you do and will be doing for the students of the Lester B. Pearson School Board this year.
Last, please continue to be kind, patient, caring and civil as you navigate the school system you are part of, and the world around you.
Judith Kelley LBPSB