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Milestones in the creation of OFFA
The Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs (OFFA) came into being thanks to the mobilization and cooperation of a large number of community, university and government stakeholders interested in achieving a common goal: to foster access to post-secondary education in French in British Columbia. The Office’s existence is the result of a lengthy but rewarding process undertaken after the creation of British Columbia’s first French Education Authority, Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique (CSF), in 1995.
June 1998. A Working Committee appointed by the Fédération des Francophones de la Colombie-Britannique (FFCB) submitted the first key document: Rapport du Comité de travail sur le Postsecondaire en français en Colombie-Britannique (“Report of the Working Committee on Post-secondary Education in French in British Columbia”).
September 2000. Serge Corbeil, the FFCB Coordinator of Government Relations and Research, presented the results of a study to measure the training needs and level of interest among the potential student clientele: Le Postsecondaire en français en Colombie-
Britannique : qu’en pense la clientèle étudiante? Rapport final (“Post-secondary Education in French in British Columbia: what do students think? Final Report”).
September 2002. Dr. Jean Watters proposed an action plan to the FFCB in a document on programs and university activities for Francophones and Francophiles in British Columbia: Un appel à l’action (“A Call to Action”).
True to its motto - Nous sommes prêts ("We are ready") -, Simon Fraser University (SFU) responded to the call promptly and enthusiastically. Several members of SFU and the FFCB, as well as representatives from the British Columbia Ministries of Education and Advanced Education; and the Department of Canadian Heritage, were asked to participate; they develop a business plan demonstrating the feasibility of creating programs in French at SFU, including professional teacher training. The association Canadian Parents for French (CPF), British Columbia and Yukon Section, supported the undertaking.
May 2003. In order to obtain the necessary funding, a document prepared by Serge Corbeil of the FFCB and Roger Blackman, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at SFU, was sent to both levels of government: “University Level programs and Activities for Francophone and Francophile Students in British Columbia : A call to Action.” The year 2003 saw the publication of a major government report aimed at maximizing the benefits of Canada’s linguistic duality: “The Next Act: New Momentum for Canada’s Linguistic Duality. The Action Plan for Official Languages.” Better known as the “Dion Plan”, named after the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs responsible for the Canadian government’s official languages policy, Stéphane Dion, who oversaw the work. This report was an essential lever for realizing British Columbia’s aspirations in the area of post-secondary education in French.
February 2004. The governments of British Columbia and Canada signed a bilateral agreement - "Canada-British Columbia Auxiliary Agreement for the Development of Postsecondary Education in French at Simon Fraser University, 2003-2004 to 2007-2008" - along with an Action Plan.
April 2004. At SFU, a first team began implementing the project under the academic supervision of Dr. Bill Krane, Associate Vice-President, Academic. A professor from the Department of Political Science, Dr. Maureen Covell, was appointed as Interim Director of OFFA. She was assisted in her duties by two Associate Directors: Danielle Arcand, seconded from the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, and Claire Trépanier, seconded from the Department of French, responsible for coordinating the courses and programs developed in French in the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences respectively. Two professors, Dr. Christian Guilbault of the Department of French and Dr. Cécile Sabatier of the Faculty of Education, were immediately called upon to quickly recruit the first group of students to begin their studies in the new multidisciplinary program taught primarily in French: the Program in Public Administration and Community Services (known today as the French Cohort Program in Public and International Affairs).
September 2004. OFFA welcomed its first students: a cohort of eight.
February 1, 2005. Dr. Yolande Grisé was hired to direct the new Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs (OFFA) at Simon Fraser University.
February 14, 2005. OFFA moved into offices in the new Cornerstone Building, located in the UniverCity development adjoining SFU's main campus in Burnaby.
For recent events and news about OFFA, please refer to the News page.