Canada ‘spoon’ row seethes
|Posted by Manila Mail under Articles/Stories|
CHICAGO, Illinois – The Quebec Human Rights Commission in Montreal, Canada says the incident involving Luc Joachim Gallardo- Cagadoc, the seven-year-old second grade Filipino boy who was reprimanded by school officials for eating with spoon and fork, was a safety issue and not about table manners.
Robert Sylvestre, spokesman of the QHRC, said Joachim was stopped by his school lunch supervisor from stuffing more rice than he could take in his mouth during a lunch break to prevent him from choking. Sylvestre told this reporter in a phone interview that â€œthere is nothing wrong with eating with fork and spoon at the same time. It doesnâ€™t matter if Canadians eat with fork, spoon and knife at the same time.â€
In a decision last month, the Commission ruled that there was no proof Luc was punished because of his use of fork and spoon, or that the principal made discriminatory remark.
The Commission, however, found the lunch supervisor (Bertrand) comment on hand-washing discriminatory. Because the Commission considered the incident an â€œisolatedâ€ incident, it did not elevate the matter to the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal. It instead suggested mediation for the parties.
Philippine Ambassador to Canada , Jose S. Brillantes, based in Ottawa , Ontario released a statement, saying that the â€œEmbassy of the Philippines is fully committed in supporting and pursuing efforts towards redressing grievances committed against Luc Cagadoc.
â€œThe Philippine Embassy joins Luc Cagadoc, his family, the Filipino community in Quebec and in Canada, and all like-minded parties in their commitment to uphold the dignity of Filipinos in Canada, and urges parties to take appropriate steps within Canadaâ€™s established processes for redress of grievances by seeking proper appellate tion of the case in accordance with Canadaâ€™s legal, judicial and quasijudicial rules and remedies.â€
â€œThe Embassy expresses its sadness that Luc Cagadoc has to go through this ordeal at such a tender age, but is hopeful that out of this unfortunate incident will arise a stronger Filipino community in Montreal and in Canada, united with other immigrants in Canada in pursuing the rightful recognition
of their cultures and traditions, and the strengthening of the multicultural fabric that our host country, Canada, seeks to ardently pursue.â€
Lucâ€™s mother, Maria Theresa Gallardo-Cagadoc, was joined by the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) in Montreal in lodging a complaint against the lunch supervisor, Martine Bertrand, of the daycare service Ecole Lalande in Montreal before the Quebec Human Rights Commission for discriminating against Luc and for violating Lucâ€™s human rights for disciplining him for eating with fork and spoon at the same time, which is a common Philippine habit.
Bertrand also described Lucâ€™s habit of eating with spoon and fork â€œdisgustingâ€ and asked Luc whether in his country, â€œdo people wash their hands before they eat?â€ According to Mr. Sylvestre, Luc was clowning around and stuffing his mouth with more rice than he could take and was reprimanded for his own safety.
When Mrs. Gallardo-Cagadoc, 38, brought the matter up with Ms.Bertrandâ€™s school principal, Normand Bergeron, about the treatment of her son, who was â€œisolatedâ€ from the rest by Ms. Bertrand, Mr. Bergeron told her, â€œYou are in Canada , and here in Canada , you should eat the way Canadiansâ€™ eat. If your son keeps eating like a pig, then he will go to another table because that is how we do it here.â€
Mrs. Gallardo-Cagadoc said she finds Bergeronâ€™s statements as â€œracially insensitive and discriminatory towards me and my family, something the Commission did not address.â€
Angelita Ogerio, president of the Federation of Filipino-Canadian Association of Quebec, was quoted by the â€œMontreal Gazetteâ€ as saying, â€œThe remarks of the principal and the lunch supervisor were not acceptable to this community.â€
Mr. Fo Niemi, Executive Director of CRARR, is studying with the family the possibility of bringing the case before the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal within the 90-day statutory deadline, which is in the early part of December 2008.
Luc, now 10, is enrolled in Grade=2 at Ecole Ste. Genevieve, one of the Margeurite Bourgeoys School . His younger sister, Hannah, 7, is also enrolled at Ste. Genevieve. Luc, who was born in Manila , came to Canada at the age of eight months. His father, Aldrin Cagadoc, 39, a nursing assistant at night and
assisting in their daycare business by day, is a native of Cotabato City in the Philippines .
The Cagadoc family became Canadian citizens in 2002.