Emilie Dubois moved from France to Quebec in 2012, to complete her doctorate at Quebec Citys French-language Laval University.
After Dubois completed her doctorate in January 2018, she applied for a selection certificate under the Quebec experience program, which allows foreign students with a qualifying diploma or work experience in the province to fast-track their residency applications.
The province told her she had not demonstrated adequate knowledge of the French language, a requirement to obtain the selection certificate, because part of her thesis on cellular and molecular biology was written in English.
Dubois explained that only one out of the five chapters in her thesis was in English because it was based on an English article she had published for a scientific journal.
In science, we are used to sharing our work and knowledge with the community and this is usually from English-speaking jaws, she told CTVs Your Morning on Friday. This is just another way to work in science.
Even though the 31-year-old scientific graphic designer had completed her doctorate at a French-language school, the provinces immigration ministry said her level of French wasnt enough to obtain the certificate because the thesis chapter in English meant she hadnt completed the entirety of her studies in French.
Undeterred, Dubois set out to prove her command of the language by taking a French test recognized by the ministry.
Dubois said the ministry sent her a letter this past spring informing her they were maintaining their earlier decision concerning her residency.
While Dubois has been working as a self-employed scientific illustrator and designer, she said shes considering becoming a qualified worker, or employee of someone else, so she can reapply for residency before her three-year work permit expires in March 2021.
Dubois said shes hopeful the province will reconsider its decision after a member of the Coalition Avenir Quebec government tweeted that her case was being reviewed.
Pro-independence Bloc Quebecois experienced a surge in Octobers general election, gaining 22 seats.
Catherine Dorion, Dubois local member of the national assembly, has also offered to help her in her cause.
In the meantime, Dubois said shes just waiting to see if her residency application proceeds so she can stay in Quebec with her partner and puppy.
Read more Emilie Dubois, a graphic designer who has lived and studied in Quebec City for eight years, was stunned to find her recent residency application denied on the grounds that she failed to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of French.
I have a diploma from a francophone university, the first in Canada. Im a French citizen, too, and I did all of my studies in French, she told Radio-Canada.
The provincial government based its controversial decision on her dissertation on cellular and molecular biology. The first chapter of her work – a response to a scientific journal article – was written in English, while the remaining four sections were written in French.
The first letter said you are not proving you know how to speak French because your thesis is considered to be written in English, Dubois told the National Post.
The letter read: You did not complete program of study in Quebec entirely in French, including the dissertation or thesis.
Her initial application was submitted under a program designed to expedite foreign workers applying for residency, something she was confident she qualified for.
Dubois then took a government-approved French language test to prove she could speak her native tongue, immediately submitting the results. But months later, she was notified that the government had chosen to uphold its original decision.
Quebec, the only province which is majority French-speaking, has at times taken provocative steps to preserve French as its official language. In October, the government proposed banning the popular greeting Bonjour-hi, only to quickly backtrack amid outrage and ridicule from residents.
Dubois left her home in France in 2012 to pursue a doctoral degree at Quebecs Laval University. After completing the program, she started her own graphic design firm. Because she runs her own company, the government also views her as self-employed, further complicating her efforts to obtain residency.
Following media reports on her plight, a representative of the governing Coalition Avenir Québec tweeted that the decision is being reviewed.
Dubois, who still has nearly two years remaining on her current work permit, is optimistic the situation will be resolved.
My life is here, Dubois told Radio-Canada. You cannot tell me that I cannot prove that I speak French.