Fil-Canadian Boy Wins Spoon and Fork Case

Manila-born but Canada-raised Luc Cagadoc was reprimanded by school officials for eating "the Filipino way," with spoon and fork. Photo courtesy of Ms. Maria Theresa Gallardo

Back in 2006, I read an article on a Filipino-Canadian boy by the name of Luc Cagadoc, who was reprimanded at his school for eating the Filipino way, using a spoon and fork. The article infuriated me back then and it was really gratifying for me to read the recent news on this case. A hat tip to Cagadoc’s mother, Maria Theresa, who announced in 2009 that she had filed her lawsuit with the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal in Montreal, Canada against the school board and its officials for racial and ethnic discrimination she alleged were perpetrated against her and her son. She said that her son, Luc Joachim, then 7 years old, told her that he was scolded by Martine Bertrand, a teacher supervising the student’s lunch, for also using a spoon instead of a fork only when eating. When told by the boy that Filipinos eat that way, Bertrand purportedly said it was “disgusting” and then asked him if people in the Philippines also wash their hands before eating. In the controversy that followed, the school principal, Normand Bergeron, was quoted by a newspaper article telling Gallardo Cagadoc, a Filipino-Canadian, discriminatory comments that “you are here in Canada … you should eat the way Canadians eat.” Oh hell no! This was my exact reaction when I first read this case. The following is a snippet from an article from Inquirer.net that covers what the Cagadocs had to go through and their victory in this case.

A human rights body in Canada has awarded 17,000 Canadian dollars (about P750,000) to a Filipino-Canadian boy who was scolded by his teacher for using a spoon to eat his lunch in the school cafeteria.

Canadian media reports reaching the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila said the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Luc Joachim Cagadoc, represented by his mother Maria Theresa Gallardo-Cagadoc, was a victim of “racial and ethnic discrimination.”

The DFA Sunday confirmed the reports on the decision favoring the Cagadocs and said it was waiting for an official report from the Philippine Embassy in Canada.

When the news of the incident first broke, the department instructed the embassy to help the Cagadocs pursue the case.

“We welcome the decision of the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal. It affirms the inclusive, multicultural values of Canadians, which we also share,” the department’s Assistant Secretary Eduardo Malaya said in text message.

Before filing a lawsuit with the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, this case was dismissed in October 2008 by the Commission, saying the incident was isolated and not discriminatory. That’s bullshit! Pardon my language, but this case made me reminisce of my childhood where my mother like Cagadoc stood up for me against ignorant and somewhat racist educators who couldn’t accept the fact that I was different. I digress, but I just want to end with saying, don’t be ashamed of who you are even if you eat the Filipino way with a spoon and fork because Filipino food just taste better that way!

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