French first language families in Peace River, Alberta will soon have a more accessible school that meets their needs.
École des Quatre-Vents, located 500 km north of Edmonton, has been a mainstay of the local Francophone community since it opened in 1999. Initially, the school was housed in 2 Peace River School Division portables. In 2006 École des Quatre-Vents took over an unused elementary school, McGrath School building, where it is currently located. However, this building is deteriorating and can no longer meet local needs. Interest in French-language education in the region has grown by an average of 8-10% per year over the past five years, and the building lacks space for middle and high school programming.
The Supreme Court decision CSF de la C-B 2016 found that schools are the single most important institution for the survival of the official language community, counterbalancing the influence of the majority language and socialising children into the French language and culture. The Francophone minority in Alberta have the right to have their children educated in Francophone schools according to Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and in Alberta’s Education Act.
The new building’s cornerstone was laid on May 6 during a ceremony organised by the Conseil scolaire du Nord-Ouest. It will open in the 2023/24 school year and accommodate up to 220 students who will have access to new programs such as shop classes and cooking classes, and a regular-sized gym with change rooms. It will also include dedicated spaces for preschool and daycare programs and meeting space for local Francophone community activities.
Image: Construction at École des Quatre-Vents May 2022, Conseil scolaire du Nord-Ouest
Catherine Fisher, blogger