A charter to regulate religious symbols

Last Tuesday, the government of Quebec presented its draft charter of Quebec values aimed at the religious neutrality of the state. Let's take a closer look at what secularism is.

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ATTENTION! The English translation is automated - Errors (sometimes hilarious!) can creep in! ;)

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"After weeks of leaks and debates, the Marois government presents its draft charter of Quebec values in the form of five proposals intended to endow the state and Quebec society with rules in matters of religious accommodation, rights and freedoms , and the wearing of religious symbols by government officials. "
Source: Radio-Canada
The announcement of this project created many reactions among the Quebec population. However, the debate around secularism is not exclusive to Quebec. Elsewhere in Canada, the subject is discussed and even that France is experiencing a similar situation these days with the adoption of a charter of secularism at school: “A charter of secularism will henceforth be displayed in all establishments. schools in France to remind students, in particular, of the prohibition on wearing any conspicuous religious symbol or opposing education in the name of their religious convictions. "
Source: Radio-Canada
The following activities will provide a better understanding of the debate on secularism and projects aimed at religious neutrality.


At the end of the activities, the student will be able to:
- Understand the definition of several terms related to the debate on secularism;
- Note that the debate on secularism is not exclusive to Quebec;
- Identify the similarities and differences between the charter projects governing religious symbols in Quebec and in France;
- Share your opinion on secularism and the various charter projects;
- Identify their personal values and compare them with those of the State;
- Discover or rediscover the Hérouxville affair and the debate on reasonable accommodation.

Suggested Activities

ACTIVITY 1: Terms to understand

Before discussing the subject of the charter, invite students to explore the following list of terms.

Click on the image to enlarge.
Download the source file in Word format (.doc)
Download the file in PDF format

Ask students what might these words relate to. Explain to them that you will approach the subject of the charter of values (or that of secularism in France), but that first it is essential to understand certain vocabulary terms.
Individually or in teams, the pupils must find the definition of each term present in the list using dictionaries, encyclopedias or even the Internet.
Finally, for the religious symbols in the list, during class correction, have a few students find a picture on the Internet and present it to the whole group so that everyone can understand what it is.

ACTIVITY 2: Two charters, one common goal?

First, ask the students what they know about the draft charter. Why do they think the government is proposing this project?
Find out what the Quebec government is proposing through the Quebec Charter of Values by reading the following articles:
Article 1
Quebec wants to ban “easily visible” religious symbols
Released on Radio-Canada, September 10, 2013.
Article 2
Quebec Charter of Values: Reactions Fuse
Published on Canoe, September 10, 2013.
Now find out about the French situation by reading the following articles:
Article 1
The charter on secularism wins broad political support
Published in La Monde, September 9, 2013.
Article 2
The charter of secularism in schools strongly criticized by religious
Published in France 24, September 9, 2013.
After having read the different texts, what are the similarities and the differences between these two draft charter? For each project, who are the people directly affected and who are the detractors?
Finally, invite the students to express themselves on secularism. Are they in agreement with the charter projects?

ACTIVITY 3: My values and those of the State

Here, students must determine what their personal values are. Here is a list that may help them accomplish this task. You can invite students to add more values to the list.

Click on the image to enlarge.
Download the source file in Inspiration (.isf) format

Second, as a whole class, determine the values advocated by the state. Quebec's common values are presented on the following website: Immigration and cultural communities
Finally, question the students to find out if they believe that the values promoted by the state are similar to theirs. According to them, is it appropriate to name the project “charter of Quebec values”? Why not "charter of secularism"?

For further

A few years ago, an event in Quebec ignited the debate on secularism. Ask students to identify this event. Give them the following clues: January 2007, code of conduct, stoning, André Drouin, Hérouxville.
As a whole class, watch the following report to fully understand the impact of this event, which is part of the controversy over reasonable accommodation.
Charter of values: return to Hérouxville, six years later
Radio-Canada, September 8, 2013

More about the magazine

Our Quebec values
Website of the Quebec government which presents the draft charter of Quebec values
The values charter, between division and inclusion
Radio-Canada file
Yes to a secularism charter… with corrective measures!
Article from La Presse, September 3, 2013
Hérouxville case
Wikipedia article
Secularism and freedom of worship
Summary sheet on secularism on the official site of France

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About the Author

Véronique Lavergne
Véronique Lavergne
Véronique is a librarian at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières and a trainer in educational technology for future teachers. She also holds a teaching certificate in the social universe at the secondary level and collaborates regularly with the organization L'École branchée.

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