But now, justice! Quebec's Human Rights Tribunal has ordered the school board to pay a total of $17,000 in damages to his family, ruling that Luc was discriminated against by the board and its employees as a result of his ethnicity: Eating habits dispute leads to damage award. Take that:
The family of the boy, who was attending Grade 2 at Lalande School in Montreal's Roxboro district, filed a complaint with the province's Human Rights Commission after the conflict with the school administration in April 2006.In its ruling, the tribunal concluded that the situation had been handled poorly by the school and the school board. The situation led Luc to "feel shame towards his ethnic origin and left him facing social exclusion and suffering from nervousness and insomnia."
The boy's mother met with her son's lunch monitor, Martine Bertrand, after she told him that his habit of eating his noodles with both a fork and a spoon was disgusting.
Maria Gallardo said she explained that the practice was a tradition in the Filipino community, but that Bertrand was unwilling to compromise.
When Gallardo tried to meet with the school's principal to address the situation, Normand Bergeron dismissed the request and said her son should learn to eat like other Canadians.
On another occasion, when Luc had forgotten to wash his hands before eating, Bertrand asked whether hand-washing was a common practice in his country.
When she showed up at the school again to deal with the issue, Gallardo was sent a letter by the Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board ordering her not to return.
Social exclusion -- meaning that because of this stupid incident, Luc was rejected by other students who would no longer let him participate in games like basketball and tag. Kids can be mean that way. Not cool.
The court ordered the school board, Bergeron and Bertrand to each pay Luc's family $5,000 in damages for their cultural insensitivity. Bergeron was also fined $2,000 for his lack of remorse. Ah, so that's the cost of cultural insensitivity. All this, over a damn spoon and fork.