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Quebec Relying on Rainbows as Schools Get Set to Open



It seems like Quebec is relying heavily on rainbows, dreamy and beautiful but not quite tangible, to soothe anxieties related to school openings and building a cohesive and unified society. From what I can tell though, the reality is not so "peachy" -- in fact, many Montrealers are not ready for schools to re-open and have not appreciated having it gloomily loom over them, creating additional and unneeded stress and worry. And while parents have a choice in the matter, teachers and other school professionals do not-- in many cases, against their better judgment, these individuals are being forced back to work into what is not a safe environment.


From the very beginning of the covid-19 measures, the Quebec government has worked diligently to rally people and gain the ultimate and unwavering trust of all Quebecers. In fact, the rainbows with the slogan "ça va bien aller" were everywhere, meant to instill unbreakable bonds of unity within the population. And for a quick blink of the eye, it worked. Mr. Legault even spoke directly to the English community at his daily briefings-- IN ENGLISH-- what a feat! But in that same quick blink of the eye, it all seemed to change with many Quebecers being forced back to work too soon, feeling anxious, unsafe and unheard.


This drastic change, in my opinion, was to be expected. In fact, it seems perfectly logical and sensible because telling an anxious and vulnerable society that "ça va bien aller" does not acknowledge or validate their feelings and instead tries to take them away. In fact, this method could never create a lasting unity, as expecting an anxious society to follow a leader blindly, even when what they're being told doesn't feel right, will undoubtedly lead to increased levels of anxiety, chaos and distrust.


You see, when working with anxious children, I often refer to an article from Renee Jain of Go Zen (https://gozen.com/49-phrases-to-calm-an-anxious-child/) -- it lists 49 phrases to calm an anxious child. And guess what is not in this list-- you guessed it-- "ça va bien aller". Alternatively, she states that we need to help children navigate the anxiety instead of taking it away from them (like saying "it's going to be okay" does) by helping them identify it, work through it, and accept it.

We need to help children feel heard and validated, support them, share that we understand and feel the same way sometimes, tell them we're there for them, and then help them use a coping strategy. By doing this, children learn that it's okay to feel anxious, that their parents will be there with them, and that they will be able to get through it together-- the total opposite of the message that "it's going to be okay" sends.


This will be especially important to implement as children go back to school (whether it be now or in September). Going back will be different: physical distance, masks, gloves -- it all seems sickly, hospital-like, and scary. Who will be there to support the children through this? Who will be there to support the teachers through this? WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT'S PLAN? Oh, I know-- they're going to tell us everything will be alright and rely on some superficial rainbows to try to take our feelings away.


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