June 7, 2023

The Queens County Citizen

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Francophone Campus in Alberta: I could not read in French

Francophone Campus in Alberta: I could not read in French

Edmonton, Alberta – Alberta’s Francophone Community has appealed to federal parties to ensure the survival of the only French language campus west of Manitoba threatened by cuts in the province. Already, students have had to continue their university studies in the Shakespeare language.

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Joannie Fogue Mgamgne and Chiara Concini hope to complete their political science program in French. The first is that this fall it will have to take three of its five courses in English, while the second is already aware that part of its training will no longer be offered in the Moliere language.

Two young women, president and external vice president of the Association of University Faculty Saint-Jean, fear the future of the French-speaking community if the organization disappears.

“I’m afraid there’s a brain drain,” Chiara told Connie, who is considering exile in Ottawa to continue her law studies.

The future of the University of Alberta’s St-Jean campus has been in jeopardy since the Kenny government announced major cuts to higher education. These will have an impact on all universities, but the impact will be even stronger in the small French-speaking faculty of about 600 students, whose courses will have to be reduced by 20%.

“We are in danger of losing the campus, we should not be under any illusions, there is a real danger,” warned Head McPherson, the NDP MP for Edmonton Stratkona, who is leading in Ottawa to protect the organization in his constituency.

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At the heart of society

The Francophone community of the West needs a century-old campus. “If people want to continue their studies in French, they have no choice. This is the only place,” explained Sheila Risbud, Canadian-Francis de l’Alberta, president of the association.

But most of all, in the future French teachers will train those who teach in schools in Alberta and neighboring states. “We already have a shortage of qualified teachers to teach in French,” Mr said.To me Responded. So the cuts will have an impact on the quality and offer of teaching in French in our schools. ”

Psychologists and nurses who graduate there can provide health services in a minority language. “With COVID-19, we ‘ve seen how important it is to be treated in our language,” said Valerie Laponte-Gagnan Underline, a history professor at the Saint-Jean campus who specializes in Canadian francophony history.

For Heather McPherson, though the provinces are responsible for funding universities, the federal government must intervene.

The elected New Democrat argues that under section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, Francophone and Anglophone minorities protect the right of their children to learn their language. “If we do not have this campus we cannot fulfill our responsibilities under the charter. So the federal government has a role to play in this file,” Mr argued.To me McPherson recalled that many French language teachers were trained there.

Growing community

Away from decline, the community of nearly 87,000 francophones in Alberta grew by 27% from 2006 to 2016.

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In particular, this is mainly due to migration from West Africa attracted by the oil boom. Originally from Cameroon, Jonny Fogg M‌gne is happy to continue his studies in French. Without this campus, she would have been “essentially” integrated into the English-speaking community, she says.

On her side, Chiara Consini was born to English-speaking parents. By choice she continued her studies in French. “I want to be in Alberta, I want to study in French … but it’s impossible,” she lamented.

Temporary solution

Both the Student Association and the Association Canadian-Francis de l Alberta are now asking federal parties to commit to finding long-term funding.

Already, liberals are proposing to cover up to 95% of additional funding for the first year, then 75% for the second, but this is a “temporary” solution, underline the two communities.

The Conservative Party of Canada is pledging $ 30 million a year for Francophone post-secondary companies across the country.

The New Democratic Party is committed to providing $ 15 million in emergency assistance before entering into an agreement with the regional government to review campus funding.