Friday, Aug. 14, 2015 (Halifax, NS) – The Halifax Regional Municipality is pleased to announce it has signed a restorative agreement with Lucien Comeau, an Acadian parent who had filed a human rights complaint regarding the absence of supplementary education funding for Conseil scolaire acadien provincial (CSAP) in the Halifax region.
The municipality and Mr. Comeau reached the agreement as a result of their engagement in the Restorative Board of Inquiry process through the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.
The agreement will go a long way toward restoring and building the municipality’s relationship with the broader francophone community, Mayor Mike Savage said today at the flag-raising ceremony in Grand Parade in advance of National Acadian Day (Aug. 15).
“On behalf of the Halifax Regional Municipality and Halifax Regional Council, I acknowledge the harm the municipality caused by not extending supplementary education funding prior to 2006 to schools within the jurisdiction of the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial,” Mayor Savage said. “By extension, the municipality failed to provide equitable funding to francophone schools and the children that attend them. This was wrong and for that I am sorry.
“We realize we cannot undo the harm that has been done, but we can recognize it, own it, and move forward.”
Mr. Comeau filed a human rights complaint with the Commission in 2003, alleging discrimination because funds the municipality collected from ratepayers for programs like music and art were given only to English-speaking schools operated by the Halifax Regional School Board. The Conseil scolaire acadien provincial is the board responsible for French-speaking schools in the Halifax region.
“I would like to thank Mayor Mike Savage and regional council for the recognition of the harm caused to Acadian and francophone CSAP students within the municipality prior to 2006,” said Mr. Comeau. “This recognition is very important to my family and my community to ensure our sense of belonging and inclusion in the Halifax region.”
The municipality resolved the funding issue in 2006; however, in his initial complaint, Mr. Comeau also took issue with the municipality’s relationship with the Acadian community and how their interests are represented within the municipal government framework. To help address this concern, the municipality invited a number of its francophone staff to sit on a joint committee with Mr. Comeau with the goal of enhancing and advising on the relations of the Acadian and francophone community.
The joint committee was tasked with developing a restorative plan to address the issues in Mr. Comeau’s complaint, which resulted in today’s agreement. Under that agreement, the municipality has committed to:
• Contribute a grant of $75,000 to a charitable trust or foundation that will support students studying in French in the geographic boundaries of the municipality at the secondary and post-secondary level;
• Continue the work of the joint committee by the framework of the processes forming part of the restorative agreement, including:
o Linguistic and cultural development
o Awareness and education
The agreement serves to resolve all outstanding issues on the matter between the municipality and Mr. Comeau. It is anticipated that the Board of Inquiry proceeding will be concluded shortly with a decision of that Board incorporating the agreement reached between the parties.
For a complete copy of the Mayor’s remarks from today’s event with the Acadian community, please visit www.halifax.ca/mayor/News.php.