Conseil scolaire francophone: bridging two languages and two cultures

"We recognize that we are involved in a predominately anglophone community," says Michel Tardif, principal of l'école La Passerelle in Whistler and l'école La Vallée in Pemberton, "so we try to instill a sense of pride in the francophone language, culture, and heritage while still being a part of our larger regional communities."

Both elementary schools are part of the Conseil scolaire francophone (CSF), or the francophone school district 93. CSF has been part of the B.C. public education system for more than 20 years and offers an education in French to francophone children, following the same curriculum as in the English school districts.

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"We have approximately 60 students in each school," M. Tardif says.

One of the myths M. Tardif encounters is that if your child attends school in French, they will lose their English skills.

"Studies have shown that the acquisition of language benefits from learning more than one language at a time,” he says. “We have found that our students perform above average in the English language tests, which only confirms what the studies have already told us.”

Part of the challenge for M. Tardif and his colleagues at l'école La Passerelle and l'école La Vallée is to instill a sense of belonging to a British Columbian francophone community.

"We try to promote the idea that we are francophones in B.C.,” he says. “We are developing the future B.C. francophone community. We invest heavily in creative activities and projects to show not just the children, but also the parents that we are not francophones from Québec, Ontario, or France. We are B.C. francophones—we try to stimulate that sense of belonging."

For more information about the Whistler and Pemberton schools or the CSF, please check each school's website at http://passerelle.csf.bc.ca/ and http://pemberton.csf.bc.ca, call 604.932.9602 or email michel_tardif@csf.bc.ca.  CSF can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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