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ANG 160 Fall 2005

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Tool for Tolerance

by Annie forest

During the last few years, there has been a high rate of immigration in Canada. The arrival of people from different ethnic origins has contributed to the increase of the distance between the Native Canadian and the "cultural Other". Between 2001 and 2002, Statistics Canada has Racism, Stop it!taken a census of the main reasons for crime in Canada. The study showed that 57% was caused by prejudice against race or ethnic origin, 43% against religion and 10% against sexual orientation. However, a research done in 2002 by the Department of History and Political Science at the University of Sherbrooke showed that among the 5109 teenagers questioned, only 13% of them were intolerant. These results illustrate that a lot of work has to be done in the domain of tolerance of differences in Canada, but also that public awareness is increasing, especially among the youth if we refer to the previous statistics. And La Fondation de Tolérance might have played an important role in that growing awareness.

La Fondation de la Tolérance is a non-profit and non-partisan organization that was created in 1995, the United Nations’ year for tolerance. It is designed for high school and college students. Its mission is to develop intercultural competence, that is, to have people "[…] respect the differences between men and women; young and old; to get to know and understand one another so that  we can live together peacefully; to make young and old aware of the negative consequences of discrimination; to encourage the public to analyse their values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviour".

La Fondation de la Tolérance  intercedes with teenagers in two major ways. One is the Caravan for Tolerance, which travels from school to school with prejudice and discrimination module in hand, as well as a genocide module. Since 1995, it has visited more than 150 000 students from about 60 different schools in Quebec. The goal of the Caravan is to encourage the participants to be honest and open-minded rather than to feel guilty about their level of intolerance. Another awareness activity offered by La Fondation de la Tolérance is AcceptAction, an interactive play that focuses on the harassment and exclusion of young people by their peers. For example, the themes of violence, suicide and drug abuse are explored. Since 2002, 36 000 students have attended this theatrical production. The main goal of AcceptAction is to provide students with questions to think about and discuss with each other and ways they can make their peer relationships more harmonious.

Besides the Caravan of Tolerance and AcceptAction, La Fondation de la Tolérance  provides teachers’ guides and students’ kits and presents conferences and community forums on questions of common interest such as the elimination of discrimination, the discovery of other cultures, etc. Furthermore, La Fondation de la Tolérance is a member of the Action Week Against Racism organization committee since 1999 and has won several prizes, including the Prix International Condorcet-Aron from the Wallon parliament of Belgium for the best international realization to promote humanitarian values in 2004. 

I think the only effective way to develop awareness is through education and prevention. La Fondation de la Tolérance is an interactive approach which allows teenagers Racism, Stop it!to develop intercultural competence and understand that stereotypes not only refer to races, but to broader areas such as religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc. To conclude, here is a quotation from a secondary five student who shares what the Caravan of Tolerance has brought to him: "During the Caravan of Tolerance’s visit, I learned especially that there is only one race: the human race. Before, I used to associate race with skin colour". I think a lot of progress has been made in the domain of tolerance, but a lot still has to be made. And I think that teachers now have a good tool at hand to promote respect and equality.

List of Internet Links

"Fondation de la Tolérance"                                                                 http://www.fondationtolerance.com

 

Bullying at School
http://www.scre.ac.uk/bully

 

"Pleins feux sur l'intimidation"
http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/specialed/bullying_f.pdf

 

"Ligue des droits et libertés"
Tél: (514) 849-7717
http://www.liguedesdroits.ca

 

"Éducaloi"
http://www.educaloi.qc.ca