CJC Quebec region name change (1)
I would like to acknowledge the foresight of the name change of Canadian Jewish Congress, Quebec region, to the Quebec Jewish Congress. Such a change, in my opinion, was a long time due – and for positive reasons (“CJC Quebec Region changes its name,” CJN Montreal; “CJC changes its name in Quebec,” CJN Toronto, April 8).
As a Jewish Quebecer, I know intuitively that the region that I have decided to make my home is distinct in all of the North American continent. Our region has a special history, civil law system, public institutions and linguistic reality. This unique heritage was acknowledged by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper last year.
Quebec’s Jewish community has been a vital part of this strong and special fabric for nearly 250 years. Parliamentarian Louis-Joseph Papineau secured the legal emancipation of our community in the 1830s. Hitherto, this had only been a dream. To the present, our day schools are among the few within North America that receive subsidies. As an educator of young people and an advocate of teachers within Jewish day schools, I am proud to be part of this unique fabric called “Quebec.”
In light of the above, I don’t feel better than or inferior to other Canadians. I do, however, feel different and have several tangibles to hang these sentiments on. I, therefore, celebrate the renaming of our organization, which has always been a trailblazer in developing a democratic, gentle, enlightened and special Quebec.
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CJC Quebec region name change (2)
When did being Canadian somehow become a matter of opinion? Opinions change, facts don’t – or shouldn’t until they no longer pass the test of truth. I served as executive director of Canadian Jewish Congress, Quebec region, for six years. As it approaches its 90th anniversary, the organization has evidently changed its opinion about being Canadian. On July 1, it will officially change its name to Congrès juif québécois, Section québécoise du Congrès juif canadien or, in English, Quebec Jewish Congress, the Quebec division of Canadian Jewish Congress (“CJC Quebec Region changes its name,” CJN Montreal; “CJC changes its name in Quebec,” CJN Toronto, April 8).
I have no polemics to propose about federalism, sovereignty, nationalism or any other constitutional option in between, just a suggestion regarding mutual respect and common sense. Mutual respect: there are deep and intertwining roots linking Quebec’s Jewish community with its francophone majority. Those roots can be nurtured and deepened by meaningful actions and gestures, not by hastily considered cosmetic name surgery. Mutual respect is based on honesty and sincerity. This name change bears little evidence of either. Common sense: how can an organization that has built its valued legacy on democratic values and transparency swap those values for expediency, without much evidence that it asked its constituents first?
CJC Quebec region name change (3)
The article “CJC Quebec Region changes its name” (CJN Montreal, April 8); “CJC changes its name in Quebec” (CJN Toronto, April 8) states that the reason for the change of name to Congrès juif québécois, Section québécoise du Congrès juif canadien or, in English, Quebec Jewish Congress, the Quebec division of Canadian Jewish Congress “is that we should be more explicitly identified with Quebec, that such a move would be positively perceived.”
CJC Quebec region is clearly and explicitly identified with Quebec. It is not clear to me that the name change, which substitutes the word “québécois” for Quebec in the French version and eliminates the word “Canadian” in the first part of the name, but retains it in the last part, makes that identification any clearer.
The article implies that because Jews have lived in Quebec for 249 years and have been an integral part of its society, that the change of name will bring this to the attention of the people of Quebec and make us more welcome. History has taught us that whether we have been in a place for 249 years or are more recent arrivals, the views of xenophobes and racists persist. Changing names, whether personal or organizational, will not protect us. This name change only panders to those who hate and feeds into their prejudices.
We should be proud to tell all who will listen that we in Quebec still are the Canadian Jewish Congress, Quebec region, a staunch supporter of human rights for all Quebeckers.