Many education and law students plan to make their lives out of the reach of Quebec’s Secularism Act – starting with those who wear religious symbols, but not just them.
Nearly three years after the adoption of Bill 21, 73.9% of future, current or former education students wearing a religious symbol and 54% of future, current or former law students wearing a religious symbol consider the idea of leaving Quebec , we can read in a research report signed by professors Elizabeth Elbourne (McGill University) and Kimberley Manning (Concordia University).
These have endeavored to measure the impact of Bill 21 on life projects for students and graduates in education and law. To achieve this, they distributed in particular a questionnaire on college and university campuses, which 629 people filled out between 13 October 2020 and 9 November 2021. “The committee is relatively small and not necessarily representative of all Quebec law and education students, ”They point out.
The idea of turning his back on Quebec also runs through the heads of many students and graduates who do not wear religious symbols. In fact, 46% of respondents say they are “very or fairly likely to seek employment outside of Quebec because of Bill 21”.
“It’s not just people who carry a religious symbol, but it’s their family members, it’s their friends, it’s their classmates who rethink their careers and wonder if they want to stay in Quebec, and it has an impact on their general impression. from Quebec, ”maintains Kimberley Manning.
Others, less numerous, would rather resign by revising their career plans and believe – sometimes wrongly – not to be able to achieve their professional ambitions because of Law 21.
“Instead of going to law, I will try to go into psychology. I wanted to be a law teacher at university level, ”said a schoolgirl wearing a hijab.
“I was planning to finish my law studies or teach at the university, but I changed my plans because I have no future in Quebec in these areas,” said a student enrolled in the Law and Society program at Concordia University. The woman, who also wears an Islamic veil covering her hair, ears and neck, says she can not bring herself to ask her husband to give up her job and expel their three children from Montreal, “a city we love and where we have lived most of our lives ”.
Bill 21 prohibits certain employees of the State of Quebec, including police officers, prosecutors, prison officers, teachers, and principals of public elementary or secondary schools, from wearing a religious symbol in the performance of their duties. Lawyers in private practice and CEGEP or university professors are not covered by the ban on wearing religious symbols.
In addition, researchers note an increase in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism since the adoption of the law on state secularism by the National Assembly in June 2019.
No less than 76.2% of the women wearing hijab or headscarf interviewed as part of the research project reported having experienced discrimination. Elizabeth Elbourne says she was “surprised by experiences of discrimination – street harassment, etc.” told by students during her work.
I changed my plans because I have no future in Quebec in these areas
The authors are careful to point out “a strong possibility [de] selection bias in favor of those who oppose the law “in the survey results, which would be caused by the” high response rate in the Montreal area, where religious minorities are more concentrated than anywhere else in Quebec and people wear visible religious signs “.
That said, “the fact that few people responded to express strong support for the law is significant in itself,” they say.