Proposed by Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, the Charter of Quebec Values has put large numbers of immigrant women in jeopardy by prohibiting them from wearing their religious garb, the hijab, while working in a public sector environment.
Calgarian feminists had much to say about the current issue raging in Quebec at a march named Take Back The Night, held on Friday Sept. 20 in downtown Calgary.
Jennie Palmer, host of feminist radio show Yeah, What She Said, and one of the event coordinators at Take Back The Night expressed her surprise and discomfort over the issue.
“We see things like this in other western countries, but multiculturalism is a big aspect of Canada,” said Palmer.
“We’re not a true mosaic if people can’t express themselves or their values at work or in public.”
According to Palmer, Marois’ portrayed intention is to provide a setting of freedom and equality for both men and women. The logic is that telling a woman she can’t wear a hijab is comparable to telling a religious woman that she must wear one.
Newspaper editor, Giselle Wedemire, said that the core of being a feminist is for a woman being able to dress and express herself however she likes.
A strong feminist herself, Wedemire was one amongst the marchers present at the September 20 march.
Simran Gill, project coordinator at Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse, stated her passionate views on the subject.
“I think that the Quebec Charter Values is in complete misalignment for what Canada stands for and has taken pride in,” said Gill.
“Asking someone to remove their religious symbols can be identical to asking someone to part with their limbs, it becomes a part of their life, a part of their identity, a part of how they interact in society.”
According to Gill, the Quebec Charter Values is not just an issue among feminists, but for those who oppose racism as well.
We’re not a true mosaic if people can’t express themselves or their values at work or in public. – Jennie Palmer
After describing the whole scenario as somewhat of a “Nazi-ish” act, Gill advised the women who might have to choose between their religion and their career to stand up for their rights and not let go of their true identities.
“Don’t do it. Protest, get fired. Don’t lay your values down for anyone,” said Gill.
“Who you are as a person is much more important than what Quebec wishes to define you as.”