Poor funding will force Francophone students to head east, students worry

Students on the Saint-Jean campus are still waiting for the province to raise federal funds to allow post-secondary courses to take place.

St. Albert resident Taylor Good, a councilor of the Saint-Jean campus student union, Association des Universitaires de la Faculté Saint-Jean, is concerned that children in St. Albert and Western Canada will choose post-secondary courses in Ontario and Quebec because of funding problems.

“I’m just afraid that if there is no solution and we don’t do our part … people will forget about a beautiful institution like this and a rich community like St. Albert that offers great French education,” Good said.

“I would hate it if children leave because they don’t have access to the education they deserve and have a right to it,” he said by Paul Kane High School students.

Edmontonston June 7th The Saint-Jean campus student association has re-launched the #SaveSaintJean movement to raise awareness of on-campus funding issues.

“We want others, whether in Alberta or at the federal level, to see that this solution or problem is not just about money, but about preserving French in Canada and defending bilingualism, which we are right to have should, ”said Gut.

In April, the federal government announced $ 121.3 million over three years in funding for post-secondary institutions offering French programs in a minority setting.

Although the money has not yet been distributed among the provinces, the main concern of the students at the Saint-Jean campus is that the provincial government will have to raise funds from the federal government to receive money, and the provincial government has not yet committed to funding .

“There is currently no announcement of dollar-for-dollar matching. So right now the campus is in a situation where this offer wasn’t really encouraged, ”said Good.

Taylor Hides, spokesman for the minister for higher education, said the province is committed to Alberta’s Francophone Community and Francophone Education.

“The government of Alberta and the government of Canada are currently in talks to fund the Saint-Jean campus,” Hides said in an email.

In August 2020, the Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta filed a lawsuit against the provincial government and the University of Alberta, alleging that the cuts in funding violated an agreement between 1976, and because the cuts violate the rights of the Charter under Section 23 – which guarantee the right to education in minority languages ​​to combat assimilation.

“As a result of these cuts, the Saint-Jean campus found itself in a situation in which it would lose around 20 percent of its courses. Because of these losses, many of the students are now in a situation where they cannot complete all courses in French, ”said Good.

Well said, there are six courses on campus – three of them in collaboration with the University of Alberta and three that are only intended to be offered on the Saint-Jean campus. Of the three that should actually be offered in French on campus, two now have to be completed on the main campus of the U of A, “Which would require (students) to take some of their courses in English,” said Good.

As the only French-speaking post-secondary institution west of Saint Boniface in Manitoba, Good said funding for the Saint-Jean campus is an issue across western Canada.

“We feel that this is no longer a Francophone problem here in Alberta, but it is a problem for Western Canada and many provinces and territories are affected, and that this is no longer a provincial jurisdiction, but many different provinces and territories Territories, ”said Good.

Good said the fraternity had met with various other student unions in Ontario and Quebec, as well as federal government officials, to share the student perspective.

“(We’re) not trying to get them to see something, we’re just trying to show them this is happening on the student side and just make sure they are aware of it so we can try, to ensure that every voice on the subject is heard, ”he said.

Alberta has the largest francophone minority after Ontario and New Brunswick. A 2016 census report found that around 87,000 Albertans list French as their first language.

Well said, there are deep roots connecting the Francophone community to St. Albert and himself. The city has a rich Francophone culture.

He He never thought he would go to university to become a French immersion teacher until he fell in love with the language and Francophone culture in 9th grade after moving to St. Albert.

“Once you really dive into what the province and the Francophone community have to offer, you can see how you really appreciate the community, the language, the culture and the traditions,” said Good.