A few weeks back the annual Canadian Parents for French conference and AGM was held in Richmond, B.C.
The organization has quite an impressive history and is a huge part of bringing and sustaining the french immersion program throughout Canada and especially in B.C. As a non-profit organizations they have been working for more than 30 years to provide French-language educational, social, cultural and sporting activities for youth.
They also provide support, resources and information for parents studying French in a variety of programs and work with teachers, PAC, school boards and the government to “suggest and monitor policies and programmes that affect the access to and quality of our children’s French educational programs.”
While the local branch is situated in the Lower Mainland and the head office is in Ottawa, there are more than 45 local chapters in communities throughout the province.
There mission; they “believe in a bilingual Canada where young Canadians have the opportunity to learn both of Canada’s official languages and that every child has a right to become a bilingual citizen…”
With my oldest son now attending the french program at John Field Elementary school in Hazelton, I first heard about the CPF at a PAC meeting and was told about the benefits of becoming a member. One of the biggest advantages of joining is the 80 per cent of the $25 membership fee comes back to the school where the parent joined. This is a great way to get more money for programming in our area and last year the local CPF money helped pay for the Concours competition and the local Winter festival. As a member of CPF I was also able to attend the three day event and had the opportunity to learn more about the program as well as get inspired to create things such as a summer camp program for the french students in the area.
On the Saturday night of the event there were several guest speakers including BC NDP leader Adrian Dix who spoke of his many wonderful experiences in French Immersion as well as St. John Alexander who is a reporter with CTV news. While they both had great stories and experiences to share, Alexander had one unlike most. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, only three CTV reporters received complete passes to Games and he was one of them. Upon asking why him, he was told he was the only one that was bilingual and spoke french. You often hear great success stories similar to this and our local success rate with graduates of the program is quite impressive to say the least.
All in all, it was a great conference, it was wonderful to learn more about the CPF and the French programs in Canada and what we can do with our own chapter.
It was extremely inspirational and I also learned the importance of being member to create more revenue in our local schools. So, if you are a parent with a child in french and you are not a CPF member, I hope you join. If you are a parent looking ahead to where your child or children will attend school in the northwest next year and the years to follow, I hope you look at all the benefits of being bilingual and take advantage of the incredible programs we have in both Smithers and the Hazeltons. Merci!
Shannon Hurst is the Three Rivers Report correspondent.