The history teacher from Montreal-North who has caused an uproar by using the “N word” repeatedly in his class apologizes to his students, the community in which he teaches and the Black League.
In a message titled “My sincere apologies” sent to Duty, in response to a request for an interview, Professor Vincent Ouellette makes his mea culpa, indicating that these will be his only comments on the situation.
Let us recall that Mr. Ouellette is the subject of an administrative investigation by the Center de service scolaire de la Pointe-de-l’Île (CSSPI) for the comments he made during a course given at distance to Henri-Bourassa high school last week. A petition, signed by nearly 1,000 people, also calls for its dismissal.
Students filmed him without his knowledge and posted an edited video on social networks. We could hear Professor Vincent Ouellette using “the N word” repeatedly, citing in particular the monologue Nigger Black by Yvon Deschamps. The professor described as a “cave” the president of the Black League who, at the time, had condemned the monologue of the famous Quebec humorist.
“The outcry caused by my unfortunate remarks in history class made me realize that I was the ‘cave’ who had denigrated the president of the Black League because he had denounced the monologue of Yvon Deschamps in 1969 ”, writes the professor in his response to Duty.
“I apologize to my students, to the community where I have taught for 25 years, and to all those who have been offended. This attitude had no place in a history class. “
Vincent Ouellette also apologizes to Dan Philips, president of the Black League of Quebec, specifying that he is a man he respects and whose cause is close to his heart. “That day,” he wrote, “I wanted to explain the meaning that the comedian wanted to give to his monologue, but I should also have spoken of the hurt that the black community of the 1960s and 1970s could feel when listening to it. This is not what I did; I lacked sensitivity. “
The history teacher explains that he wanted to make “links with recent events” as part of a discussion “on how to understand our past from a current perspective”.
However, he admits not having “taken into account the high sensitivity of the subject” and affirms to have “given ammunition to those who want to interfere with freedom of expression in public education”. He said he was “deeply sorry and unhappy” that his words had led to such a situation.
“People who know me know my respect and affection for the black community, the ideals I stand for, the values I share and my love of teaching and history,” he writes.
“One day I want to continue this conversation with my students. Until then, I will take a step back and I hope that these few explanations will help to calm the situation. “
Last Thursday, the Pointe-de-l’Île School Services Center claimed to have taken actions “to shed light on these events.” Monday morning, the CSSPI was not able to indicate whether sanctions had been taken against Mr. Ouellette. “You will understand that I cannot comment on a human resources file,” answers Valérie Biron, communications manager, by email. I can confirm on the other hand that it is under administrative investigation. “
For his part, the president of the Autonomous Federation of Education (FAE), Sylvain Mallette, on Thursday appealed for calm.