Conversely the principal admonished staff for every perceived slight to Muslim sensibilities. Miriam says that the principal insisted staff not look students in the eye, that they not gesture with their forefinger to indicate students should approach, and refused to act against Muslim students who were physically aggressive to male teachers (the principal was a woman).Well, what do you want in this case? If accommodating minorities means not just encouraging every ethno-cultural group to maintain and celebrate their cultures but completely exempting them from any Canadian content whatsoever, trying to recreate the environment of immigrants' native countries instead - no wonder some of those folks choose to go all the way, expressing their traditional contempt towards "infidels" - Jews and non-Jews.
During the invasion of Iraq, moments of silence were held in the classroom. Students could be excused from class during the playing of the national anthem. Cultural presentations and shows involved only Muslim culture, with no Canadian content. Students were not allowed to speak English, but they were allowed to speak their native languages.
In the spring of 2004, a 17-year old Djibouti male student issued a tirade at her in the classroom. In Miriam's recollection it went: "I don't have to listen to you - you are not a person, you are nothing, you are a Jew, you do not exist as a person." Ordering him to the office and following him down the hall, she was treated to further abuse: "Don't speak to me, don't look at me, you are not human, you are a Jew," repeated over and over. Although the student was suspended for ten days, there was no follow-up. He was not made to apologize, and there were no sensitivity sessions laid on for all the students. In a similar incident with another student who was also briefly suspended, the parents were puzzled as to what the problem was, since, they patiently explained, the teacher was Jewish.And another thing: what do you think, how many in Djibouti or Eritrea have a university education, several years of work experience in a skilled occupation and the language skills required for immigration under a skilled workers' program? How many of them could afford a processing fee of over $1000 per adult, plane tickets that cost at least as much, let alone - have some $10,000-$15,000 in cash to finance their settlement in Canada?
Perhaps you think this is all a he said-she said kind of story, and that you have only heard one side of it. Consider this then: The year Miriam left this school in the spring of 2004, a full sixty out of seventy-five teachers had asked for a transfer. Because of the uncomfortable atmosphere, francophone Canadian students were no longer enrolling. According to Miriam, "They had been complaining for years and parents got wise." Maybe it's time our school boards and our politicians got wise as well.
Yes, I mean just that. Most of those mentioned in the article must have come here as refugees. Well, if it turns out that they are so attached to the way things were in their home countries - then maybe we should have their refugee claims reopened? If some of them tend to dislike the culture, the values and the national symbols of the country which has shielded them from alleged persecution - then maybe there was no persecution in the first place? And, if some of those who've come here begging for protection end up repaying us with ethnic slurs, not to mention verbal and physical assaults - then maybe it would make sense for us to just send them back where they came from?