Asian Canadians in Quebec have condemned two French-language grammar worksheets featuring offensive Asian stereotypes after they gained traction on social media.
The materials were reportedly distributed to students taking French classes at the Cole Internationale de Français of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) and the adult learning center Centre Louis-Jolliet in Quebec.
The worksheet given to students at Centre Louis-Jolliet featured a racist caricature of an Asian person donning a straw hat and holding what appears to be a bowl of soup. The text beside the image reads, “He has small eyes.”
The other worksheet, which was distributed to UQTR students, contained a fictional conversation between two characters, one of whom criticizes Chinese cuisine by saying, “Are you joking? I don’t eat cat.”
“It’s crazy. It’s really disturbing,” Jimmy Chan, president of Montreal’s two Chan Associations, told CTV News. “This is no respect for other people’s culture.”
UQTR spokesperson Jean-François Hinse defended the UQTR worksheet, claiming that the conversation was taken out of context.
Hinse told CTV News that the worksheet has “an excerpt from a discussion between two fictional characters, where one of them presents great ignorance about culinary habits in different cultures.”
“Obviously, a reply from a caricature in a narrative text does not reflect the values of the instructor… or of the university,” he told CBC News.
Hinse added that the institution will remove the text from its website and also apologized for “any discomfort this publication may have caused.”
According to Vanessa Déziel, a spokesperson from the Centre de Services Scolaire de la Capitale, the Centre Louis-Jolliet and UQTR did not create the worksheet with the caricature.
Déziel further explained that the caricature was first used years ago and that it is “open to interpretation.” She also added that teachers at the Centre Louis-Jolliet “are allowed to choose their own pedagogical material.”
“In this case we understand that it was the initiative of a teacher,” she said. “We are making sure to sensitize our teachers at the Centre Louis-Jolliet to ensure that their tools are neutral.”
“My initial reaction was shock,” Bryant Chang, vice president of the Chinese Association of Montreal, said, adding that this would only perpetuate the rise of anti-Asian attacks brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. “This shouldn’t be taught in schools.”