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The Quebec English-Speaking Communities Research Network celebrates 15 years at Concordia

‘A recognized player in the ecosystem of research on linguistic minorities’
April 23, 2024

Four people standing together — three men and one woman — smiling for the camera. From left: Patrick Donovan, Brian Lewis, Lorraine O’Donnell and Chedly Belkhodja.

After 15 years as the main research network on the English-speaking population of Quebec, QUESCREN is well on its way to accomplishing its goal of promoting community vitality.

“I think we’ve hit the right balance of producing evidence-based research that is scholarly, but that communities and policy-makers also find useful,” says senior research associate Lorraine O’Donnell. She is the founding staff member of the Quebec English-Speaking Communities Research Network and an affiliate professor at the School of Community and Public Affairs (SCPA), where the network is housed.

“The Secrétariat aux relations avec les Québécois d'expression anglaise gives us substantial funding, which people might not expect. That body is firmly cemented in the provincial government and they’ve shown every sign of confidence in what we do, as has Canadian Heritage, our other main funder.”

Extensive list of resources

QUESCREN is a collaborative network of researchers, community members and institutions. It provides opportunities to promote the understanding and vitality of English-speaking Quebec through research, knowledge mobilization, networking and outreach. The organization is co-directed by Chedly Belkhodja, professor in the SCPA, and Brian Lewis, professor in the Department of Communication Studies.

“Our organization has become a prominent and recognized player in the ecosystem of research on linguistic minorities and English-speaking Quebec communities,” says Belkhodja. “Our approach to engaging researchers and partners stands out as our most significant success.”

The network provides a variety of resources, including an online bibliography on English-speaking Quebec with 14,400 publications. It also hosts the Community Knowledge Open Library, which includes documents produced by English-speaking community organizations, and has a newsletter, a YouTube channel and more.

“Basically, we let the world know about what people know about English-speaking Quebec, whether it’s a very formal PhD dissertation, ephemeral community knowledge or recordings of event presentations,” O’Donnell explains.

QUESCREN just launched a searchable database, the Data Portal on English-speaking Quebec (DESQ). It includes custom Statistics Canada datasets relating to English-speaking Quebec as well as the Inter-Level Educational Table (ILET) Hub, which showcases research on education and features podcasts and video interviews with researchers.

Recent research

Most recently, QUESCREN produced a research brief, “French and English universities in Quebec: Is it really a zero-sum game?” The brief was led by research associate Shannon Bell and Patrick Donovan, an affiliate professor of history at Concordia.

The eight-page brief, which incorporates published reports, statistics and other scholarly works, unpacks claims that McGill, Concordia and Bishop’s universities are overfunded and contributing to the decline of French.

“The Quebec government commissioned us to write a series of research briefs about different topics that we decided on in consultation with them and key community leaders,” O’Donnell explains.

“My colleagues found that the accusation that ‘Anglo’ universities get an unfair share of funding is incorrect. In fact, all universities are underfunded.”

QUESCREN has gone from one to eight regular staff members over the years and continues to build capacity. And it will not stop growing and flourishing in the challenging policy environment that is Quebec, says Pascale Sicotte, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science.

“In Quebec's complex political landscape, QUESCREN's commitment to evidence-based research and community engagement enriches conversations and understanding, contributing significantly to community vitality and informed dialogues,” she says.

The Quebec English-Speaking Communities Research Network is hosting a conference on
Women in Official Language Minority Communities on May 14 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the ACFAS Congress at the University of Ottawa.



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