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Funding approved for francophone school site purchase in Smithers

$2.1 million from province to purchase property for a future Francophone school in Smithers.
Students at École La Grande-ourse enjoy some unique sledding as part of the Smithers French school’s annual Carnaval celebrations. (Thom Barker photo)

Francophone students in Smithers are a step closer to having a school now that funding has been approved to purchase a site.

“It is so important that families who speak French as a first language have the opportunity to send their children to a francophone school that’s close to home,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education and Child Care.

“I’m pleased to see that a site has been secured in Smithers for the future home of école La Grande-ourse. We are committed to continued work with the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique (CSF) to ensure that francophone students have access to quality education across B.C.”

READ MORE: Francophone School opens in Smithers

The Province has provided the CSF with $2.1 million to purchase property for a future permanent home for école La Grande-ourse.

École La Grande-ourse offers classes from kindergarten to Grade 7 to the francophone population.

With the lease ending for the current space being used, the new site purchase, at the southeastern corner of Vancouver Street and 3rd Avenue, will ensure francophone students have a place to learn for many years to come.

“I am proud of the work we are doing to support Smithers’ francophone students and their families by purchasing a site for the école La Grande-ourse,” said Nathan Cullen, MLA for Stikine.

“Our government is taking significant steps to meet the demand for French-language education in Smithers,” Cullen said.

Since September 2017, the Province has provided the CSF with more than $56.8 million for site purchases in Burnaby, Kamloops, Penticton, Victoria and Pemberton and almost $11.3 million for the new temporary modular school (École Beausoleil) in Victoria.

The Province will continue acquiring school sites and building or upgrading schools for francophone students throughout the province, it said.

“We welcome the news of additional funding to purchase a school site in Smithers with great enthusiasm. Ensuring permanent and stable access to school sites is crucial for the CSF to offer high-quality French-language education to francophone students throughout the province,” said Marie-Pierre Lavoie, board chair, CSF.

“We look forward to continued collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Child Care in developing a modular school building to satisfy the immediate needs of the community.

The school site will also allow us to plan for the eventual construction of a permanent, long-term school building for école La Grande-ourse.”

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Students at École La Grande-ourse enjoy some unique sledding as part of the Smithers French school’s annual Carnaval celebrations. (Thom Barker photo)