Filipino-Canadian student wins human rights case
Published Friday, April 23, 2010 6:11PM EDT
A Filipino-Canadian family in the West Island is celebrating their win at a Human Rights Tribunal.
In April 2006, Luc Cagadoc, then seven years old, was humiliated by a teacher at Lalande School in Roxboro who mocked him for eating with a fork and a spoon, something that is common practice among many Filipinos.
The teacher singled him out, saying it was disgusting, and asked him if people washed their hands in his country.
"Late at night I would wake up screaming, 'I don't want to go to school!' and then my mom would have to come in my bed and calm me down," said Luc.
When his mother complained to the teacher and principal, Maria Gallardo says she received no sympathy.
She said the principal replied "'Well madame, you are in Canada, here in Canada that is the way we eat! You should learn the way Canadians eat!' What is the Canadian way of eating? I am a Canadian by the way!"
In a decision made public this week, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal awarded the family $17,000 in damages, to be paid by the Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board, the principal of Lalande School, and Luc's former teacher.
The school board may appeal the decision.
This case has already gone before Quebec's Human Rights Commission, which in 2008 ruled Luc had been reprimanded for his table manners, and not for his choice in utensils.
Gallardo says the legal ordeal has brought her family closer together.
"As a mother I am still hurting, but still seeing my little boy proudly eating with spoon and fork gives me a great pride for my heritage," Gallardo said.
As for Luc, "if you are a kid, and you are being discriminated, sexually abused, or humiliated or anything you should stand up and tell somebody."
It's a lesson that will serve him well, especially since the case has convinced him to become a lawyer.