By David F. Rooney
A French-language education program could be established in Revelstoke next year, says Caroline Grenier, the local parent who is working with the Conseil Scolaire Francophone (CSF) to get it going.
“I’ve been working on getting a French-language program in Revelstoke since 2008,” she said in an interview Friday.
And now it’s close to becoming a reality. The CSF, which is the French-language educational authority operating 38 schools across BC, wants to support the needs of the Francophone community within the boundaries of provincial Education Ministry requirements. The Conseil is attempting to determine how many children could be enrolled in a program in Revelstoke. There are currently 12 children who are eligible, Grenier said.
This would not be a French-immersion program, as many parents attempted to organize in the past, but a fully-French program with a specific set of eligibility criteria protected under Section 23 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees minority language education rights.
To be eligible for the Francophone program at least one parent must fit at least one of the following conditions: their first language learned and still understood is French; they received their primary school education in Canada in French (excluding French immersion); they have a child who has received primary or secondary school instruction in Canada in French (excluding French immersion); and they have a child who is now receiving primary or secondary school instruction in Canada in French (excluding French immersion).
While French immersion programs are aimed at benefitting the children of English-speaking Canadians, the kind of programs provided by the Conseil are for the benefit of the ethnically French minority in British Columbia, hence the French immersion exclusion.
While CSF Public Relations Director Pierre Claveau could not be reached for comment on Friday afternoon, the organization is openly calling on Francophone parents in the area to demonstrate their interest by calling the CSF at 1-888-715-2200 or by e-mailing Caroline Grenier at email@example.com before November 30.
The Conseil will then determine the possibility of starting a program in Revelstoke. Where that program may be hosted is unknown, but it is possible that the CSF could rent space in one of the School District 19 buildings.
SD 19 Superintendent Anne Cooper said her staff has fielded only one call from the Conseil and she indicated that she is open to discussing that possibility with the French-language educational authority.