MONTREAL -- The Quebec minister in charge of the fight against racism said the government will correct an ad campaign that some criticized was not inclusive of anglophones.

A series of simple, 15-second ads were released Monday as part of a campaign to raise awareness about racism and to promote inclusion for all Quebecers, but some felt left out by the language used in the videos.

“A group of young Black people gathered in a park at night are called: Friends,” reads a narrator in one the videos as five people are seen mingling near a park bench after dusk. The video ends with the text: "Put an end to prejudice."

But in the French version of the same ad, “Friends” was translated as “des amis québécois,” which, to some, implied that the people in the English video were not considered Quebecers.

This English version was removed from YouTube on Tuesday afternoon.

Benoit Charette, the minister responsible for the fight against racism in Quebec, unveiled the new campaign Monday but was swiftly challenged on it.

The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), an umbrella organization representing English community organizations, questioned why “Quebecers” wasn’t used in the video in the first place and wondered how the government thought the omission would go unnoticed.

The QCGN said in a statement to CTV News Monday evening that, “The word Quebecer describes very well our belonging to this province, like French-speaking Quebecers. It is truly a refusal to recognize our identity as an integral part of Quebec.”

Jennifer Maccarone, the Quebec Liberal party’s critic for diversity and inclusion, was also critical of the lack of “tact” from Minister Charette, saying on Twitter, “It’s sad that being a Quebecer cannot be translated into another language. Aren't anglophones Quebecers in their own right? Isn't the primary goal to bring everyone together?!”

Other people were also questioning the messaging in the English video on Twitter.


Charette acknowledged the anti-anglophone sentiment in the ads and said after consulting with his language advisers, the videos will be changed.

His parliamentary assistant, Christopher Skeete, said in an interview with CTV News on Tuesday that it was not the government's intention to exclude anglophones and that the English video will be re-recorded with the word "Quebecers."

"I’m optimistic this very aggressive and very expensive campaign will do what it needs to do in the end, but you’re right, today the launch is not what we hoped for," said Skeete, who is also parliamentary assistant to the premier for relations with English-speaking Quebecers.

He said the English ad was "unacceptable" and that the government recognizes that it was a mistake.

"I’m a little bit disappointed that the launch wasn’t what we hoped for but let’s not forget … the amazing message that’s behind that. We want to fight racism and that we’re serious about fighting racism in Quebec so let’s just hopefully come back to that message which has been lost with this minor setback"

In a tweet written in French, Charette said the term “Quebecers” was not used because it was deemed as “less inclusive.”

“Today's reactions show us that this was not the best solution,” he said.

In a subsequent post, the minister said the language in the English version will be modified. “All citizens of Quebec are Quebecers, regardless of their language,” he added, also in French.

QCGN said it was "pleased" the minister said he is committed to changing the ads.

The videos came out in response to one of the 25 recommendations from the Groupe d'action contre le racisme report called "Le racisme au Québec : tolérance zéro," which was published last December.

The new ad campaign was released Monday on TV, in newspapers, and online. All of the videos are available on YouTube.

The government appears to have made the same gaffe in all four videos that are part of the campaign. For example, in another one, the narrator says: “In Quebec, a tattooed man of Latin American origins running down the street is called: a neighbour.”

But in French, that person is called “un voisin québécois.”

But that’s not the only thing that was seen as problematic in the awareness campaign.

The QCGN said the campaign relies on stereotypes “that risk fueling divisions, rather than dispelling them.”

In a news release to announce the campaign, Charette said the government has “a duty to ensure that everyone living in Quebec feels at home there.”

“Quebec is a welcoming and inclusive society and, in any case, we cannot tolerate that a person suffer prejudice because of their ethnic origins,” he was quoted as saying in the release.

“The entire population must mobilize now in order to put an end to prejudices. "