Cause for celebration… École Allain St-Cyr is 30!
École Allain St-Cyr is the only Francophone school in Yellowknife. Housed in a bright, modern building, it has been called “one of Canada’s most innovative schools”. It’s also a testament to the passion of the local French-speaking community who fought for three decades to make the school what it is today.
In 1988, a determined group of Franco-Ténois (Francophones who live in the Northwest Territories) invoked their rights under Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and sued the territorial government, resulting in the territory's first French-language education program.
From this small beginning, École Allain St-Cyr was born.
In 1989, the program’s first nine students started school. Their classroom was a vacant windowless portable building in the parking lot of an existing Yellowknife school.
Over the decades, École Allain St-Cyr has been expanded and improved.
A state-of-the-art gymnasium was built in 2017 after the local Francophone school board, the Commission scolaire francophone Territoires du Nord-Ouest spent several years in territorial court insisting that the government must fund it. Prior to that, St-Cyr students were bussed to another school for gym classes.
École Allain St-Cyr, which now has 154 students, held its 30th birthday celebrations in the new gym in December. Onstage at the gala were the Yellowknives Dene Drummers (pictured: photo by Ingrid Wood), Allain St-Cyr and other key figures from the school’s history.
Acadian singer-songwriter Claude Cormier left his home in Rimouski to play music at the gala. He also performed a song that he’d written with St-Cyr students to celebrate the joyful occasion.
On a personal note
I’m enjoying creating these blog posts for the RVF. As an Anglophone, there are many things I don’t know about Francophone history and culture in Canada, including about language rights and rights-holders. Researching and writing these posts has helped me to become a more informed Canadian.
If you want to know more about Section 23 rights, the National Film Board has a series called The Fight for Francophone Rights which looks into these questions further.
Catherine Fisher, Blogger