Friday, April 28, 2006

Filipino table etiquette punished at local school

Got this article from an e-mail. Acording to the story, a boy of Filipino descent was regularly punished by his school's lunch program monitor for eating differently from his schoolmates. When his mother complained to the principal, the principal answered her:
"‘Madame, you are in Canada. Here in Canada you should eat the way Canadians eat.’"
The comments section of the paper contained a lot of negative comments directed at the school, the lunch monitor and the principal. I too was appalled when I read the story but on further reflection I want to withold comments until i know the full story.

There are indications that this may have been a misunderstanding. When the paper interviewed the principal he said
"... it was Luc’s eating technique combined with his behaviour at the table that was inappropriate that day, which is why he was moved. “Luc can be turbulent,” he said yesterday. “Like other children, he is frequently in situations where we have to intervene. It’s normal, he’s a child. He is in a period of learning.”"
Now, this can be true, or this can be a rationalization for the punishments. We just don't know. The school board is conducting its own investigation and
"will not comment — due to confidentiality procedures — until Gallardo’s complaint is filed and she makes a public statement."
What we need to do is to monitor this story so that the truth can come out.

I visited the schools website but it's in French so I can't read it. The paper who broke this story has written a follow-up story.

But even if this event turns out to be a mis-understanding, that should not diminish our esteem for Ms. Maria Gallardo Cagadoc, the mother of the boy who complained. It is her prompt action that has led to the investigation.

Her action illustrates that the personal is political. Our personal complaints, when acted upon can make a difference, can enable change in the society we live in.

Update (May 3, 2006)

*I misunderstood the follow up article, Ms. Cagadoc will file a Human Rights complaint against the School Board (Commission scolaire Marguerite Bourgeoys), not the School (Ecole Lalande). I am sorry, my only excuse is that I am not familiar with the Canadian system. I updated the sentences below to reflect my new understanding.

The Chronicle has a second update on this story. It seems Ms. Maria Gallardo Cagadoc will file a complaint against the School Board . According to the update
"The boy’s mother, Maria Theresa Gallardo, said the Centre for Research Action and Race Relationship (CRARR) of Montreal is guiding the family in making a human rights complaint against Ecole Lalande’s school board, Commission scolaire Marguerite Bourgeoys."
We don't know the reason she is taking her complaint to a higher level but it can be inferred from the article, especially the sentence
"School officials maintain the punishments were disciplinary and have nothing to do with the student’s background."
that the school board has concluded their investigation and found that their principal was not acting out of any prejudice.

Of course, the above is just speculation on my part. I tried visiting the school's website but it's down.

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