Quebec students feel there’s ‘no future’ for them due to religious symbols law, study suggests

Of note. Interviews, not a poll, selection bias likely at play, but nevertheless of note (article in Le Devoir below):

A new study looking into how university students feel about Quebec’s religious symbols law is painting a bleak picture, with many saying they’ve lost faith in the province and plan to leave.

The study, completed by researchers from two Montreal-based universities, asked post-secondary students, recent graduates and prospective students about their feelings on Bill 21.

The bill, also known as Quebec’s Laicity Act, became law in June 2019. It banned some civil servants, including teachers, police officers and government prosecutors, from wearing religious symbols at work within the province.

The study acknowledged the sample size is “relatively small” — 629 respondents, polled from Oct. 2020 through to Nov. 2021 — and has a “strong possibility of selection bias,” as those who feel more strongly about Bill 21 are more likely to have responded to the survey.

However, the authors noted that respondents were “relatively diverse” and attended both French and English institutions from across the province.

Only about 28 per cent of respondents said they wore some form of religious symbol.

“We were expecting a more balanced diversity of responses. We thought we would get more people in favour of the law,” said Elizabeth Elbourne, an associate professor of history at McGill and one of the researchers behind the study.

“There’s a really interesting generational gap. We were quite struck.”‘I have no future in Quebec’

Respondents in Elbourne’s study were invited to write-in additional comments. Many said they experienced increased racism since the law was introduced.

“I think that the bill — despite the fact that many people don’t mean it this way — in practice, can give permission to discriminate,” she said.

Over 34 per cent of respondents — including those who did not wear a religious symbol — reported experiencing increased discrimination since the law was passed. That number jumps to 56.5 per cent for those who do wear religious symbols.

“It used to happen to me occasionally. Now it happens almost every time I go out,” said one Université de Montréal student who wears a hijab.

One McGill education student described seeing Bill 21 invoked in the classroom while on a work placement during their studies.

“[I] watched students and the teacher ridicule a Muslim girl for wearing a hijab. The teacher said with Bill 21, you can’t dress like that,” the respondent wrote. “The girl was mortified and silent and just 11 years old.”

Even those outside of law and education, the fields most impacted by the law, reported feeling its effects.

“I have had some job interviews where I could immediately tell that the person lost interest in my application as soon as they saw me with my headscarf,” said a Concordia engineering student.

Moving provinces seen as ‘only solution’

As a result, 69.5 per cent of the students polled who wear a religious symbol said they were likely to leave the province for work.

“I didn’t even get a chance to start my career properly,” lamented one McGill education student who wears a hijab.

“The only solution I am strongly considering is to move to another province.”

Weeam Ben Rejeb is one of those considering the move. The McGill law student hoped to become a prosecutor, but would be banned due to her hijab.

“Even though I could practice in the private sector, it’s more about what this law is saying about me,” she said.

Ben Rejeb described Bill 21 as an “insult,” saying it suggested that she wouldn’t be able to do her job because of what she chose to wear.

“It’s extremely offensive,” she said. “We are essentially saying we’re not intelligent enough or impartial enough to be able to be neutral judges or teachers.”

Can’t work with ‘clean conscience’

They’re not the only ones considering leaving.

Forty-six per cent of the students who don’t wear religious symbols said they were also planning to leave Quebec due to Bill 21, saying they don’t want to participate in a system that discriminates against their colleagues.

“I refuse to work in a place where my peers cannot or will be punished for expressing themselves,” said one education student.

“I don’t feel that I can be a teacher here in Quebec and have a clean conscience while doing so,” wrote another.

“I chose Canada because I believed their laws aligned with my liberal beliefs,” wrote a Concordia law student who does not wear a religious symbol. “Now I am very disappointed and rethinking everything.”

Elbourne, the researcher who worked on the study, said she sees the potential exodus of students having a “serious impact” on the province’s education system.

“I think it’s going to make it harder to recruit teachers. And I also think, if we’re looking at the people leaving — are people from the outside going to want to come to Quebec?” Elbourne said.

As for how they feel about Quebec, 70.3 per cent of all respondents said they had a worse perception of the province since the law passed.

“I despise Quebec now,” wrote one McGill education student who wears a hijab. “A province which has absolutely no respect for me or my people to the point that they’d like to take my livelihood away deserves no love.”

“We’re racist af (as f–k),” wrote another.

Some support for Bill 21, survey shows

Not everyone was against the law, however. While the study notes that the “vast majority of people … were critical or divided” on Bill 21, there were also those who supported the measure.

One McGill education student hoped the bill would “encourage all faiths to embrace secular civic life” in Quebec.

“Hopefully we will see a new era in which students are able to attend school without being subjected to symbols of patriarchal religious oppression on their teachers,” they wrote.

One McGill law student said their family “escaped” a country that forced women to wear the hjiab. “We are free here,” they wrote.

A PhD student in education at McGill said they came from a conservative and religious part of the United States and would like to see something similar there.

“[Bill 21] is a wonderful step towards women’s liberation and freedom,” they wrote. “I wish my state would pass a similar bill.”

Ben Rejeb, the law student, acknowledged that Bill 21 does have widespread support in the province — especially in more rural regions — but questioned why that was.

“If all that you know about Muslims is what you see on TV … then it makes sense why you might have these fears,” she said.

Ben Rejeb said that with more education, she believes that most Quebecers would change their minds about supporting the law, though she fears many have already moved on.

“I feel like most of my peers, and Quebec society in general, has kind of forgotten about this and is going on with their lives and not really thinking about it because it doesn’t affect them personally,” she said.

“All of us who are living in Quebec right now are complicit in allowing this bill to continue to exist.”

Source: Quebec students feel there’s ‘no future’ for them due to religious symbols law, study suggests

Un grand nombre d’étudiants en enseignement et en droit projettent de faire leur vie hors de portée de la Loi sur la laïcité de l’État québécois — en commençant par ceux portant un signe religieux, mais pas seulement eux.

Près de trois ans après l’adoption de la loi 21, 73,9 % des futurs, actuels ou anciens étudiants en enseignement qui portent un signe religieux et 54 % des futurs, actuels ou anciens étudiants en droit qui portent un signe religieux réfléchissent à l’idée de quitter le Québec, peut-on lire dans un rapport de recherche signée par les professeures Elizabeth Elbourne (Université McGill) et Kimberley Manning (Université Concordia).

Celles-ci se sont employées à mesurer l’incidence de la loi 21 sur les projets de vie d’étudiants et de diplômés en enseignement et en droit. Pour y arriver, elles ont notamment distribué un questionnaire sur les campus des collèges et des universités, que 629 personnes ont rempli entre le 13 octobre 2020 et le 9 novembre 2021. « L’échantillonnage est relativement petit et pas nécessairement représentatif de l’ensemble des étudiants du Québec en droit et en éducation », précisent-elles.

L’idée de tourner le dos au Québec trotte aussi dans la tête de plusieurs étudiants et diplômés qui ne portent pas de signe religieux. En effet, 46 % des personnes interrogées se disent être « très ou assez susceptibles de chercher du travail ailleurs qu’au Québec à cause de la loi 21 ».

« Ce ne sont pas seulement les gens qui portent un symbole religieux, mais ce sont les membres de leur famille, ce sont leurs amis, ce sont leurs camarades de classe qui repensent leur carrière, se demandent s’ils vont rester au Québec, et cela se répercute sur leur impression générale du Québec », soutient Kimberley Manning.

D’autres, moins nombreux, se résigneraient plutôt à revoir leurs plans de carrière, croyant — parfois à tort — ne pas pouvoir aller au bout de leurs ambitions professionnelles en raison de la loi 21.

« Au lieu d’aller en droit, je vais essayer de rentrer en psychologie. Je voulais être enseignante de droit au niveau universitaire », a souligné une collégienne portant le hidjab.

« Je comptais terminer mes études en droit ou enseigner à l’université, mais j’ai changé mes plans parce que je n’ai pas d’avenir au Québec dans ces domaines », a affirmé une étudiante inscrite au programme Droit et société de l’Université Concordia. La femme, qui porte aussi le voile islamique couvrant les cheveux, les oreilles et le cou, dit ne pas pouvoir se résoudre à demander à son mari de renoncer à son emploi et à déraciner leurs trois enfants de Montréal, « une ville que nous aimons et dans laquelle nous avons vécu la majeure partie de notre vie ».

La loi 21 interdit à certains employés de l’État québécois, dont les policiers, les procureurs, les gardiens de prison, les enseignants et les directeurs d’école primaire ou secondaire publique de porter un signe religieux dans l’exercice de leurs fonctions. Les avocats de pratique privée et les professeurs de cégep ou d’université ne sont pas assujettis à l’interdiction du port de signe religieux.

Épisodes de discrimination

Par ailleurs, les chercheuses notent une montée de l’islamophobie et de l’antisémitisme depuis l’adoption de la Loi sur la laïcité de l’État par l’Assemblée nationale, en juin 2019.

Pas moins de 76,2 % des femmes portant le hidjab ou un foulard interrogées dans le cadre du projet de recherche ont rapporté avoir subi de la discrimination. Elizabeth Elbourne dit avoir été « surprise par les expériences de discrimination vécue — harcèlement dans la rue, etc. » relatées par les étudiants au fil de ses travaux.

Les autrices prennent soin de signaler « une forte possibilité [de] biais de sélection en faveur de ceux opposés à la Loi » dans les résultats du sondage, qui serait causé par le « haut taux de réponse dans la région de Montréal, où se concentrent les minorités religieuses plus que partout ailleurs au Québec, et des personnes portant des signes religieux visibles ».

Cela dit, « le fait que peu de personnes aient répondu afin d’exprimer un fort soutien à la Loi est un élément significatif en lui-même », estiment-elles.

Source: La loi 21, source de craintes pour des étudiants en droit et en enseignement

USA: Using Cultural Competency for Mental Health Access Outreach

Relevant study:

College campuses need stronger cultural competency when designing mental health access outreach, as racial and ethnic minorities increasingly forego access to care, according to data from the University of California, Riverside.

The study, published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, particularly recommended college campuses look at the shared cultural values between Asian and Latinx students, two populations that researchers said often go without needed mental healthcare.

“This means counselors can identify a culturally sensitive, value-driven approach to encouraging greater participation in campus mental health services, instead of focusing only on students’ ethnicity in their outreach efforts” Kalina Michalska, the study’s senior author and a UCR psychology researcher, said in a statement.

Currently, about three-quarters of Asian students and 65 percent of Latinx students go without needed mental healthcare, the researchers reported. Those staggering figures could be due to cultural differences, like commitment to family obligations and interdependence that could make the burden of stigma stronger for Asian and Latinx students.

That is not to mention the social determinants of health, like racial bias or financial barriers, keeping Asian and Latinx students from accessing mental healthcare as often as their White peers.

Through surveying about Asian and Latinx culture, as well as about perceptions about mental healthcare access, the researchers were able to determine they were right, at least about cultural differences.

The survey 25- and 35-question surveys for Asian and Latinx students, respectively, highlighted a culture of deference to one’s family that could dissuade students from accessing mental healthcare for fear of stigma or shame.

Additionally, the stronger a student reported cultural beliefs in interdependence, the less likely they were to signal a need or a likelihood to access mental healthcare. For these students, support in one’s family and social circle was deemed essential for addressing mental health issues.

Importantly, the researchers could not draw a direct link between a student’s desire to honor her culture with a conscious decision not to access mental healthcare. However, the surveys did suggest some links between cultural attitudes and mental healthcare access that differ somewhat for White students of Western descent.

This comes as US institutions, like colleges, are becoming increasingly diversified. At UC Riverside, about a third of the students are Asian and 41 percent are Latinx. Campuses like UC Riverside need to account for multiculturalism in numerous ways, including as it relates to health and mental healthcare.

“Given the increasing diversity among U.S. college students, there is an urgent need for universities to develop proactive and culturally informed programs designed to improve mental health support for students, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds,” Michalska said.

Although Michalska and her team did not outline specific steps for building culturally competent patient outreach strategies, they did note that understanding cultural beliefs about interdependence and support through family would be important for understanding how to better tailor mental healthcare efforts on college campuses.

And in doing so, colleges can help ensure better and more equitable patient access to care, the researchers concluded.

Source: Using Cultural Competency for Mental Health Access Outreach

Study aims to uncover who is most vulnerable to coronavirus

Hopefully, will be broader than just age and gender and include socioeconomic and ethnic origin characteristics:

For infectious disease experts, one of the most intriguing mysteries about COVID-19 is why there is so much variation in the virulence of the disease, particularly among people in different age groups – including children, who rarely experience severe illness.

While it’s been clear since the beginning of the pandemic that the elderly or those who have chronic medical conditions such as hypertension or diabetes are at higher risk of getting a severe case of COVID-19, it is also true, based on worldwide data, that there are some cases of healthy young adults as well as children, who are becoming critically ill.

“The question is why,” said Lisa Strug, associate director of the Centre for Applied Genomics at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. “That’s where we believe we’re going to get some insight from genetics.”

Now Dr. Strug and her colleagues have launched a cross-Canada initiative to sequence the DNA from a large number of individuals who have been infected with COVID-19. The project, which is partly funded through private donation, will make its data widely available with the goal of identifying genetic variations that are relevant to the severity of the disease and that could help inform treatment.

Key to the project is the question of age and its relationship to the progress of a COVID-19 infection.

“We are looking at the entire spectrum – from birth to over 70 – otherwise you might not get the full picture,” said Upton Allen, the hospital’s head of infectious disease, who is co-leading the effort with Dr. Strug.

Disease modellers have been starved for information about the character and prevalence of COVID-19 in the young. Evidence suggests that most children who are exposed to the virus will have only had mild symptoms or none at all. However, they may still be transmitting the virus to others. This means children could be an important factor in the community spread of the disease – a detail that is difficult to capture in forecasts that could help determine when physical distancing measures can be lifted.

While there have been theories about why the disease has the age profile that it does – a profile not seen in influenza, for example – researchers are looking to ground those ideas with hard data.

“It’s humbling,” said Jesse Papenburg, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. “It seems that many of the things we thought we knew about respiratory infectious disease in children don’t seem to be playing out that way with COVID-19.”

Dr. Papenburg is among the collaborators that the Toronto group has already reached out to in order to gather a diverse set of genetic samples for the study.

Because a patient’s genes do not change after the disease has come and gone, Dr. Allen said the project will be able to obtain genetic data from individuals who were ill and in hospital but are now recovered. The study will include a control group of individuals who were infected but who did not experience serious symptoms.

Some of those controls will be drawn from family members who live in the same household as those who became ill but who, for whatever reason, were spared despite a similar level of exposure. In that situation, Dr. Allen said, the strategy will be to find the family member who is most distantly related (such as a spouse) to see what genetic differences turn up.

Dr. Strug said the study will involve reading and comparing the entire DNA sequences of large numbers of individuals, and using statistical tools to see which variations may correlate to different responses to the COVID-19 virus. Researchers will also focus on genes that are linked to specific pathways in the immune system or that relate the way the virus attacks cells.

The project’s original aim was to sample the genomes of at least 1,000 people who have been infected with COVID-19, but that was before it was clear how extensive the outbreak would become across Canada.

“Unfortunately, access to individuals that are symptomatic is not going to be a challenge,” said Dr. Strug, “so I think that we are going to far exceed a study of 1,000.”

She added that initial results could emerge within the next six to 12 months. Parallel projects supported by the British-based Wellcome Sanger Institute and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the United States are also under way.

Stephen Freedman, a clinical scientist with the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute in Calgary who is not involved in the genomic studies, said they would yield important information and potentially answer some of the biggest questions surrounding COVID-19. However, he added, COVID-19 is outpacing research to an extent that some of those answers are more likely to inform the next pandemic.

Dr. Freedman is leading a separate study that will combine Canadian and international data to help health workers spot COVID-19 in children and better predict which cases will likely require hospital care, as well as determine what interventions are most effective.

“Trying to glean out that data is really crucial to coming up with management strategies in real time,” he said. “Even though children do better than adults, there are still a host of children who do poorly and there are children who die,” he said.

Source: Study aims to uncover who is most vulnerable to coronavirus

StatsCan Study: The long-term economic outcomes of refugee private sponsorship

Of note how the economic outcomes of privately and government-sponsored refugees become similar over time after an initially wide gap:

Canada was the first country to introduce private sponsorship for refugee resettlement. The program has played a key role in the country’s responses to international refugee crises over the last four decades. Private sponsors are responsible for providing financial, material and personal support to refugees during their first year in Canada.

A new Statistics Canada study compares the employment rate and earnings between privately sponsored refugees and government-assisted refugees who were admitted to Canada from 1980 to 2009.

This study is based on the Longitudinal Immigration Database and focuses on refugees who arrived between the ages of 20 and 54 under the two programs (privately sponsored refugees and government-assisted refugees). The analysis follows refugees up to 15 years after they first arrived in Canada.

Refugees are a diverse population with varying degrees of human capital and pre-migration circumstances. Privately sponsored refugees and government-assisted refugees differ in some key socio-demographic characteristics. Over the study period, privately sponsored refugees came more predominantly from Eastern Europe, whereas government-assisted refugees came more often from South and Central America and the Caribbean. Privately sponsored refugees had a higher level of education and tended to be more concentrated in Toronto than government-assisted refugees.

This study compares labour market outcomes of these two groups of refugees, while taking these socio-economic characteristics into account and recognizing that other possible unmeasured differences between the two groups of refugees—such as exposure to violence, duration of displacement, physical and mental health, and ethnic and family networks—could impact their economic outcomes.

This study found that privately sponsored refugees had much higher employment rates and earnings than government-assisted refugees in the initial years after arrival, but this difference diminished over time with government-assisted refugees steadily catching up.

In the first full year after arrival, privately sponsored refugees had higher employment rates than government-assisted refugees, by about 17 percentage points among men and 24 percentage points among women. Fifteen years after arrival, these differences decreased to 3 percentage points among men and 2 percentage points among women.

Similarly, privately sponsored refugees earned 28% more than government-assisted refugees among men and 34% more among women in the first full year after arrival. This gap narrowed to about 5% for both men and women 15 years after arrival.

Furthermore, the employment and earnings advantage of privately sponsored refugees over government-assisted refugees was greater among refugees with less than a high school education than among refugees with higher educational levels. Over half of refugees in the study had less than a high school education.

Source: PDF

Josephine Mathias: Racism still exists on campuses, but don’t exaggerate the problem

Clearly, less serious and less nuanced than the CRRF/Environics Institute study or other related surveys such as the GSS or police-reported hate crimes, which provide information regarding the relative seriousness or degree of racist behaviour.

I have no problem with a “believing stance” as long as it provides some clarity as to the type and degree of racist behaviour. The Laurier report, while having considerable narrative and considerable data on respondents and where incidents took place, does not, unless I missed it, have a data table that would indicate the relative frequency of minor (e.g., some microagressions) and major (e.g, violence or threats of violence) racism:

Wilfrid Laurier University is in hot water over a recent race-related study. According to the survey, which polled minority students, upwards of 70 per cent of respondents experienced racism on WLU’s campus.

If 70 per cent sounds hyperbolic, that’s because it has to be. The problem with this study — and many others that include self-reported data — is that it didn’t define what constitutes racism. The study states at the outset: “This study takes a believing stance; therefore, if participants understand their experiences as racism, then we do not question the validity of their lived experiences.”

In other words, anything goes.

There is no doubt that individual acts, as well as systemic instances of racism, continue to exist on some Canadian campuses. But, in today’s day and age and for the purposes of a “supposed” academic study, to leave the definition of the term “racism” open to interpretation is to render it meaningless.

Over the past few decades, academics — particularly in the field of sociology — have tried to redefine the term racism. “Discrimination based on skin colour” became “prejudice plus social/economic power” in academia, and this reinterpretation of the term led many social activists to simply develop their own wishy-washy definitions. Today, many people consider white people having dreadlocks racist; wearing Nigerian — or some other African country-themed attire racist; hell, even not liking a particular country’s food is racist now, too.

So, when we consider the WLU 70 per cent figure, what does it really mean? Does it mean 70 per cent of minority students have been radicalized by a professor or other university official while attending class? Or, is it more likely a fair portion of this 70 per cent overheard a white dude in the cafeteria saying “Indian food is icky?” The solution to the former scenario is a formal reprimand of the official in question. The solution to the latter, is to ignore Brad and move on with your day.

The thing that bugs me most about these studies is that they paint this false picture of what life is like for minority students on campuses. To say that 70 per cent of minority students experience racism, is to say that WLU is closer to Alabama 1950 than it is to Southern Ontario 2019. To leave
the definition of racism so broad, but then to report the study’s headline with the 70 per cent figure. just drums up outrage, distrust and fear among minority students — if you didn’t see racism on campus before, you certainly will be inclined to now.

What good does perpetuating this kind of narrative do? Racism does exist on campus, there’s no doubt about that, and I’m sure many of the self-reported stories would constitute legitimate acts of discrimination or other-ing of students based on their race.

The problem is that we can’t find solutions to racism on campus if racism can be anything. And if we make actual racism impossible to define and categorize, we can’t address the real problem. If everything’s racist, nothing can be singled out.

Today, legitimate instances of discrimination don’t happen nearly as often as this study would have us believe. We can and should identify and reprimand the bad actors — be they other students, professors, or university officials — but we shouldn’t inflate the amount of racism on campus just to get the point across.

Source: Josephine Mathias: Racism still exists on campuses, but don’t exaggerate the problem