All Posts Tagged With: "human rights tribunal"
Wants $15,000 from Ryerson University
A master’s graduate has filed a complaint asking for $15,000 from Ryerson University because she says she was discriminated against for being a “Racialized Ethical Vegan.” Sinem Ketenci, a 37-year-old from Turkey, says that a senior professor at Ryerson disagreed with her comparison of maltreated animals with marginalized people, which caused another professor to withdraw his recommendation of her for a PhD in social work. “This systemic discrimination and harassment that silences marginalized minority peoples’ voices, such as me as a Racialized Ethical Vegan, is a serious threat towards freedom of speech and freedom of belief,” Ms. Ketenci wrote in her complaint to Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal, which will now decide whether the complaint should move ahead to mediation. It’s unclear what this has to do with race, but Ketenci told the National Post: “If I were white, born here, this case would not have happened.” Ryerson has not yet responded.
Up to the government, or the university?
In a case regarding equality rights at the University of Guelph dating back in 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada released a decision defending the autonomy of Canadian universities in the name of academic freedom. Essentially–the government declined to stick its nose in university affairs.
UWindsor can still search for a new Dean of Law, but Human Rights Tribunal may intervene
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has affirmed its authority to choose faculty deans. The ruling was made Monday in reference to allegations that racism and sexism kept a women professor from taking the top post at the University of Windsor’s faculty of law. However, for the time being, the Tribunal also ruled that the university can continue its dean selection process.
In an application filed Sept 10, Emily Carasco had asked the Tribunal to order Windsor’s dean selection committee to stop its search, and install her in the position. She had initially filed a complaint in July alleging sexism and racism played a role in her being denied the post. Carasco is seeking $60,000 from the university and an additional $15,000 from law professor Richard Moon who accused Carasco of plagiarism. Carasco was one of two top candidates being considered for the position, but both were rejected in the spring.
Although the dean selection process will continue, Tribunal vice-chair Sherry Liang did not rule out the possibility that the Tribunal could eventually install Carasco into the post, even if it is filled in the interim. “The appointment of a new dean does not preclude the option of a remedial order instating the applicant to the position of dean should the applicant (Carasco) succeed in her application,” Liang wrote in her ruling.
Outgoing dean Bruce Elman will stay in the position until it has been filled. The university denies any wrongdoing and is preparing its response.
Related: Should HRCs pick your faculty dean
- Photo by Joe Gratz
What Naema Ahmed’s expulsion from a French class really shows
In August 2009, Naema Ahmed, a pharmacist, mother of three and an observant Muslim living in Montreal, began what is known in French as a cour de francisation—literally, a Frenchifying class—at CEGEP Saint-Laurent in the city’s north end. Apart from being taught the (often confounding) rules of French conjugation, students taking the 33-week, 1,000-hour class learn rhythm, intonation and the practical use of the language: how to shop for groceries and clothes, as well as how to ask for help if they get lost or confused. They also learn the basic workings of Quebec society: that it is French-speaking, secular and considers men and women as equals. In other words, the class teaches integration nearly as much as it does the French language.
At the behest of a school official, Ahmed lifted her niqab—a garment worn by certain observant Muslim women that covers the whole face except the eyes—when registering for the course. When she showed up for class, however, Ahmed refused to remove her veil in the presence of the three male students in attendance in the class of 19. The following 11 weeks, according to a government source, “were one step forward, two steps back”; the teacher often had to halt oral exercises between students to accommodate Ahmed—she didn’t want to speak unveiled to the men of the class. Moreover, the source said, Ahmed at first agreed to remove her niqab for certain exercises, then changed her mind as the classes wore on. “There was no will on her part to compromise,” said the source. (Ahmed was contacted by Maclean’s for this story, but she declined an interview.)
Midway through the second 11-week block of classes, the teacher had had enough. She went to the director of the school, Paul-Émile Bourque. School officials further attempted to have Ahmed remove the veil, which failed; Bourque then called the province’s Immigration Ministry, which runs the classes. (The $4,000-program is entirely subsidized by the Quebec government.) With the consent of Yolande James, Quebec’s minister of immigration, Ahmed was asked to leave the class. It was likely the first time in the program’s 40-year history that a student was turned away on account of a few square centimetres of black cloth.
Ahmed has now become the centrepiece of the ensuing media storm; another school asked her to leave when her name hit the headlines across the country, after she refused yet again to remove her niqab. She has since filed a complaint with Quebec’s human rights tribunal. It is the latest salvo in the continuing debate over so-called “reasonable accommodations,” pitting the Quebec model of integration against the religious convictions of a handful of recent arrivals—and, some say, the rest-of-Canada model that exists outside Quebec’s borders.
Welcoming—and fretting about—immigration has been something of a national pastime since well before the federal government enshrined multiculturalism as its official policy in 1971. From outrage at the spectre of pork-free cabanes à sucre in Quebec to a backlash against religious schools in Ontario and beyond, the country as a whole has experienced certain growing pains as it has come to depend on immigrants to buoy its flagging number of old-stock Canadians.
But what Ahmed’s case shows, more than any intolerance in Quebec, may be how the country remains divided along linguistic lines. “It was a decision that needed to be made,” James told Maclean’s recently, of her decision to become personally involved in the case. “We have a responsibility to defend the individual rights and freedoms, but I also believe that one person’s rights must take into account the individual rights of others.” And the vast majority of Quebecers agreed with the government’s decision to ask Ahmed to leave.
But reaction outside Quebec was swift and righteously outraged. “Quebec…is proving to be unreasonable,” opined the Globe and Mail in an editorial, suggesting that the removal of Ahmed from the class was akin to “empowering state agents to enforce dress codes”—something usually reserved for “Arab and West Asian countries, such as the former Taliban regime.” “Quebec…is fast becoming the most hostile province in Canada for anyone of a minority culture or religion,” wrote Calgary Herald columnist Naomi Lakritz. “In Quebec they don’t like the burka,” wrote CBC business columnist and anchor Amanda Lang on her Twitter account. “[A]nd they’re funding in vitro with tax dollars…anyone see a pattern here?” (Lang, who didn’t respond to requests to elaborate, apparently confused the niqab with the burka, the far more constraining garment worn primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan.)
This sentiment doesn’t necessarily stand up to the facts. In the past 10 years, Quebec has seen a 50 per cent increase in the number of permanent residents living within its borders. Yet, says Université de Montréal professor Marie McAndrew, the province is still seen as intolerant and backward. At the same time, many Quebecers believe the rest of Canada is a cabal of “ghettoized communities where no one speaks to each other.” A recent Environics poll suggests that while Canadians feel discrimination on the whole is on the wane, they make an exception when it comes to English-French relations: each group feels persecuted by the other in roughly the same measures as five years ago, when the poll was last conducted.