B'nai Brith's national headquarters has pointed to the media for any negative attention that Winnipeg singer Chantal Kreviazuk suffered over a dispute involving Manitoba's Grade 12 provincial language arts exam.

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B'nai Brith's national headquarters has pointed to the media for any negative attention that Winnipeg singer Chantal Kreviazuk suffered over a dispute involving Manitoba's Grade 12 provincial language arts exam.

Frank Dimant, executive vice-president of B'nai Brith Canada, issued a joint statement with Kreviazuk late Friday afternoon from Toronto in which he said the media "negatively dragged" Kreviazuk's name into the controversy.

Chantal Kreviazuk

CNS VANCOUVER SUN

Chantal Kreviazuk

But, Dimant said, the Jewish organization is also upset with the provincial department of education.

B'nai Brith's Winnipeg office issued a news release this week in which regional director Alan Yusim charged that the department's use of an essay by Kreviazuk on the provincial English exam could promote anti-Israel hatred among some students who wrote the exam.

Yusim's email mentioned Kreviazuk several times, and included a copy of her essay used on the provincial exam.

But Dimant laid the blame on the media Friday. "B'nai Brith Canada is in contact with Canadian singer Chantal Kreviazuk to clarify confusion over media reports on a question on a Manitoba provincial test based on an essay Kreviazuk wrote in 2006 highlighting the effect of war on children," Dimant said Friday.

"As expressed to the Manitoba (department) of Education, B'nai Brith's concern with the question was that no context was provided to the students to assist them in understanding the complexities of the conflict in the Middle East.

"To be clear, our concern was not and is not with Chantal Kreviazuk or her essay, and we sincerely regret that Chantal Kreviazuk's name has been negatively dragged into this debate by the media," Dimant said.

Students were to answer the question, "Should entertainers use their celebrity to make the world a better place?" One of the pieces of writing they were to anaylze was an essay by Kreviazuk deploring the suffering of children in several armed conflicts, including the Gaza Strip.

In Friday's joint statement, Kreviazuk said that "B'nai Brith does a lot of good work in Canada and had every right to pursue its concerns about the exam question with the government in Manitoba."

An aide to Education Minister Nancy Allan said Friday night that the joint statement does not affect a process now underway into any exam question of concern. "B'nai Brith raised their concern with the minister, and the minister takes that concern and all concerns seriously," said Allan's aide.

Allan wants to know how the essay came to be part of the exam, worth 30 per cent of the students' final mark, and has ordered that it not happen again. Allan said that teachers preparing the provincial exam are supposed to avoid bias and cultural sensitivity.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca