Late yesterday afternoon, the College received a letter from Danielle McCann, the Minister of Higher Education. This letter serves as an official confirmation of the cancellation of Dawson’s much-needed infrastructure project. Once again, she stated that the decision was based on her government’s intention to prioritize infrastructure projects for francophone CEGEPs.
The denial of additional space flies in the face of a deficit of more than 11,200 square metres based on the approved devis and ministerial norms confirmed by her own Ministry in December 2021. A space deficit at Dawson that has been well-documented since at least 1998. One would have assumed that ministerial norms apply to all CEGEPs, but the reason Dawson has been denied equal treatment is based solely on language of instruction.
To say we are disappointed is an understatement. For more than seven years, the College worked in good faith with the Ministry and the Société québécoise des infrastructures to bring the project to fruition. Several hundred hours of work by faculty in the health and social service programs, by the Facilities Management team and by the senior management of the College, and millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money have been wasted in this process.
We have every right to be angry. For more than 50 years, we have answered the call of Quebec society, educating successive generations of Quebecers, English- and French-speaking youth as well as every other language of origin, without prejudice, to become responsible citizens.
We have done everything right. We have followed the rules. We have adapted to the times. We have set standards for excellence.
Instead of being acknowledged as a model of diversity and inclusion for ALL Quebecers, we have become a target for some as a symbol of something that is threatening, that needs to be stopped.
There is a dangerous undercurrent in this decision based on a level of discrimination never before witnessed in the history of the Quebec CEGEP system. It is divisive and goes against the most fundamental principle of higher education, of accessibility, of equality and equity.
It has overtly created two types of college institutions, some deserving and some less so. It has sowed the seeds of an “Us vs Them” approach to education at a most troubled time in the world’s history that calls for unity, not division.
We must remain vigilant in the face of such discrimination. It needs to be called out and recognized for what it is.
Anger does not offer solutions. We must channel these emotions into a renewed commitment to our mission, and to our community spirit which once again showed its unity in the face of adversity. We must continue to fulfill our mission with pride: to educate a diverse population, to engage learners and empower them to become active responsible citizens and to enrich society. We will also continue to find alternate solutions to address the space deficit.
For their support, I want to sincerely thank the Dawson Community, our students led by the Dawson Student Union, the members of the Board of Governors, the nearly 20,000 people who signed the petition, and our partners and friends in the greater Montreal community.
The official cancellation letter from Minister Danielle McCann: Projet majeur du Collège Dawson