The Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations, 1944 to Present
Our story begins in 1944. This was the year the Quebec Provincial Council of Home and Schools merged with the Greater Montreal Federation of Home and School Associations to form the Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations (QFHSA). A total of 45 established Home and School associations, some in existence for 25 years or more, came together under the leadership of an outstanding group of volunteers. Many of those volunteers were prominent leaders in their communities; they were infused with a strong social conscience. Three years later, a Home and School creed was established to guide the work of the QFHSA.
The 1947 Home and School Creed
That it should learn first-hand all school conditions and all community conditions affecting the child. That it should be a co-operative, non-partisan, non-sectarian, non-commercial effort to produce Canadian citizens who shall be capable of perpetuating the best of our national life. That it brings the men and women of the community into touch with one another, thus helping to break down prejudice and misunderstandings, and develops a common interest in the home, the school and the community.
First up on the QFHSA’s agenda were issues related to the health and welfare of children. Other goals included fostering a sense of citizenship in Canadian youth, especially for new immigrants. In 1959, the Federation launched Operation Bootstraps, an ambitious study on the need for education reform in Quebec. When the Government of Quebec introduced a Royal Commission of Inquiry on Education, known as the Parent Commission, the Federation was ready to present a 45,000-word brief, comprising 17 reports containing a total of 176 recommendations. The brief was praised for its outstanding coherence and insight. Many of the Parent Commission’s recommendations echoed those contained in the Federation’s brief. One important recommendation was the creation of a Department of Education. (Bill 60, 1964) The late ’60s saw the QFHSA, through its Education Committee, take on an increasing role in responding to the emerging governmental language and education legislation. Countless briefs, position statements, resolutions, and actions to both the provincial and federal governments over the years have stressed the rights of parents to choose the language of instruction for their children’s education. At the grassroots level, parents were engaged at their local Home and School associations, bringing in nutrition, physical activity, and cultural programs to enhance education. They championed literacy projects, hot lunch programs, and manned school libraries in response to budget cutbacks.
Today, the Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations is still organized on a local school basis, with a network of associations extending from the Gaspé in the east, Gatineau in the west, La Tuque in the north, and North Hatley in the south. Our members assist teachers in the classroom and resource centres, they staff libraries, they help supervise field trips, they organize after-school extracurricular activities, and, through various fundraising activities, they provide schools with improved libraries, computers, lab equipment, music and art programs, and opportunities for the wider community to come together through special events (spaghetti suppers, family fun days, etc.). In many and various ways, our parent volunteers not only enrich the educational experience of the children in the school but contribute to the preservation and vitality of the English community surrounding them. In 2019, the QFHSA celebrated 75 years of parental involvement in education and Home and School, as a social movement, celebrated 100 years of activism in Quebec. We celebrated the hard-working women and men from over the decades who saw many changes to the educational environment in schools, but held fast to the main driving force of Home and School, which is to ensure the health and well-being of children and youth by fostering strong connections between the home and the school. 100 years of volunteer parental involvement and counting! A history of achievement, indeed!