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We are all teachers

(Ottawa – October 21, 2020) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and the Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d’université (FQPPU) join their voices with those of all French educators to condemn the savage murder of a history teacher in France.

History and geography teacher Samuel Paty was killed for using caricatures of Mohammed to stimulate discussion in the classroom. This senseless attack is a reminder that teachers potentially place their lives at risk in practicing their profession; this murder not only constitutes an attack against the entire teaching profession, but also threatens freedom of expression and academic freedom.

Educational institutions and their staff must, at all costs, resist the temptation to self-censor or to avoid broaching any subject, including the most controversial words, concepts or theories, as indicated in a recent statement by Education International.

CAUT and the FQPPU offer their most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Paty, and to his loved ones, colleagues and students. In memory of Samuel Paty, we must take a stand collectively and continue to fight so that schools, from preschool to higher education, will remain places of learning, where free discussion and ideas play a fundamental role in educating informed citizens who are capable of critical thinking, tolerance and humanity. Professors, teachers, and their institutions must never give in to such acts of terrorism.

Everywhere across the world, colleges and universities must continue to produce research and to disseminate knowledge, and must remain places where debate is encouraged. To achieve this, academic freedom must be supported and defended loudly and clearly, as a matter of public interest. In order to properly fulfill their roles, professors and teachers from all countries must have the right to teach, learn, study and publish without fear of being censored, targeted by fundamentalism, or threatened with reprisals or discrimination, both within their institutions and in the public space.

Only when our institutions unreservedly uphold academic freedom will it be possible for knowledge to continue to advance.

More than ever, we are all teachers.