Fondé en 1983 --Unis pour la diversité et l'égalité raciale


Montreal, Canada, January 25, 2009 --- In December 2008, Ms. Maria-Theresa Gallardo filed her lawsuit with the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal against the school board and officials for racial and ethnic discrimination she alleges was perpetrated against her and her son, L.C. In particular, she alleges that L.C. was reprimanded at school for eating in the customary Filipino manner, with fork and spoon, during the lunch hour.

In 2006, Ms. Gallardo, a Filipina Canadian, mandated CRARR to file a complaint before the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission alleging that her son was exposed to discriminatory remarks and treatments for eating with a spoon and a fork in a west-end school of Montreal. She denounced an educator who asked L.C. whether “in (his) country Filipinos washed their hands before they eat.” (He was born in the Philippines but came to Canada at the age of 8 months.) She also denounced comments allegedly made by the school principal to the effect that Ms. Gallardo ought to “eat the way Canadians eat”.

In September of 2008, the Commission partially upheld the complaint. It did not find that L.C., the then seven-year old Grade 2 student, was reprimanded because of his cultural habit of eating with a fork and a spoon at the same time. The Commission did find that the comments of the educator were discriminatory and violated L.C.'s rights. However, it did not address Ms. Gallardo's complaint against the principal.

The Commission exercised its discretion not to represent Ms. Gallardo before the Human Rights Tribunal, and Ms. Gallardo was free to file the case at her own expense.“This is about me, my son, and the entire Filipino community. We are proud of the way we eat, and we have to stand up for ourselves and our civil rights” said Ms. Gallardo, who was supported by CRARR throughout the duration of her Commission complaint and is currently represented by Me René Saint-Léger in her lawsuit before the Tribunal.

In her lawsuit, Ms. Gallardo seeks $24,000 in moral and punitive damages from the educator, the school principal, and the school board. The Gallardo family solicits donations and contributions from anyone in Canada and the United States to defray the costs of the litigation.

CRARR is a Montreal-based independent, non-profit civil rights organization that was founded in 1983 with the mandate to promote racial harmony and equality in Canada. It is considered as one of the leading non-profit race relations groups in Canada and has worked closely with different segments of the Montreal Filipino community to promote and raise awareness regarding civil rights.