Francophone families wanted in Columbia Valley

Local mom looking to start Francophone school in Invermere

A local mom wants to bring a Francophone K-12 school to Invermere.

Jacinthe Bernier has started the process to bring a sole-French education program to the Valley through the Conseil Scolaire Francophone Program, a public education board for Francophone schools in B.C. (see sidebar story below).

The first step is to gather a list of Francophone families interested in sending their children to a Francophone-based school.

“It is who I am,” said Ms. Bernier, a French-Canadian mom of three, when asked how important her language is to her identity.

While her children know and understand French, they live in an English environment.

“Play-based, daycare, school, friends – the influence is so strong, sadly stronger than family,” Ms. Bernier explained.

The result is her children, especially her eldest who is school-aged, speaks more English than French, or a jumbled mixture they call ‘Frenglish’. The other outcome of living in an English-dominant community is her children, while fairly fluent in French, can neither write or read in their parent’s native tongue. Of course, Ms. Bernier and her partner have worked to teach their children at home but that only goes so far.

“Having peers that are into the same learning outcome will be a really big influence,” she explained.

Ms. Bernier’s goal is to set up a complete Francophone program from kindergarten on, meaning the children are educated solely in French. Similar programs in the Kootenays through the Conseil Sclolaire Francophone Program can be found in Fernie, Revelstoke and Nelson.

Ms. Bernier is currently looking for francophone families, or families where at least one parent attended francophone school, who would be interested in sending their children to a francophone school. If you have school-aged children, younger children or are pregnant and interested in a Francophone-based school, or to find out more, email Ms. Bernier at watermelon28@outlook.com.

The Francophone District of BC will be coming to Invermere on Wednesday, September 20th for an informational meeting, from 6-8 p.m. at the Lions Hall behind the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce at the Crossroads.

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