A Place For Every Ukrainian Student in Schools of Quebec


Mathilde Drolet-Plante

Even if the places are limited in schools in Quebec, Jean-François Roberge promises a place for every Ukrainian student that will arrive in Quebec in the next weeks.

Since February 24th, on the day of the Russian attack on Ukraine, about 3.5 million Ukrainians fled their country because of the war. Quebec has indicated that there is no limit to the number of Ukrainian refugees in the region.

Even though most of the schools in Quebec are at full capacity, the school system will welcome all the students who move to the area with their families. We still don’t know how many students we will welcome in Quebec City, but it is important to remember that most of the refugees who will arrive in Quebec in the next few weeks will return to their origin country once the war has ended.

Ivan Okocha, a secondary 5 English concentration student, is a Ukrainian who immigrate to Quebec with his family in March 2012 when he was 7 years old. He was born in Kyiv, Ukraine. When he arrived in the country, he was not able to communicate well in French. After three years of integration into French classes at school, he was able to express well himself. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is really important for him because Ukraine is his home country. ‘’The first few days of the situation in Ukraine were very hard for me, I was very stressed and there were even days that I couldn’t come to school because that’s all I was thinking about’’, said Ivan. According to him, Canadian students who will host future Ukrainian students should not talk to them about the situation in Ukraine because some of them will come back with trauma from the war and some will find it difficult to integrate themselves. ‘’At the beginning it was hard, but now I’m getting used to it’’, said Ivan Okocha.

According to Mr. Roberge, school boards in the region are used to receiving around 200 students from different countries. Some school boards in Quebec City have said that they will not accept new students in their classrooms because they are already full at the elementary and secondary levels. Mr. Roberge, Minister of Education, contradicted this announcement by saying that the francophone school system had “everything it takes” to properly welcome with open arms young Ukrainian refugees in the next few months. All Ukrainian students will receive all the support and guidance necessary for their learning and integration.” We have interpreter services, psychosocial services, everything we need to welcome these people properly, reassure them, and allow them to integrate into Quebec society,” said the Minister.

The number of students we will be able to accommodate cannot be determined precisely, but the school system expects a few dozen students. We don’t know at this time what is planned by the authorities who welcome and plan the relocation of the Ukrainian families to the different cities of Quebec. It will vary depending on the following realities: the age of the students, the academic level of the students and the place where they will live. ‘’We have spaces available in all of our schools but the exact number varies from school to school depending on grade levels and where the school is located’’, said Mr. Christian Pleau, Director of the Centre de services Scolaire des Découvreurs. 

Once the students arrive in Quebec City, the priority will be to find housing for their families as well as clothing and food. A few days later, they will be able to register in one of our schools and start their classes.

Schools will need to ensure that they provide the following services to students:

-Registration of our prospective students

– School evaluation to validate the academic level of each student

– Identify the school and the class that will be able to welcome him/her

– Help with the purchase of school supplies

– Provide transportation for students who live too far from the school

– Hire interpreters to communicate with parents and children

– Possibly hire francization teachers

– Offer support services for children who have experienced war-related suffering

An employee at the School Service Center, called a “liaison officer”, provides a link with families to explain the operation of the schools. An interpreter is also involved to help parents understand how things work. For students 12 years old and under, they will be immediately integrated into the regular classes with a follow-up of francization each week. For students who are behind in their education or older, for whom learning French will be more difficult, they will be placed in classes that allow for intensive learning of French.

Schools of the centre des services scolaire des Découvreurs in particular, will deal with the Centre Multiethnique de Québec, whose mission is to welcome immigrants of all categories in order to facilitate their arrival, offer accommodation, support their adaptation and overall integration into our society. Des Découvreurs will be meeting with the Centre Multiethnique de Québec in the next few days to plan the reception of the families.