Issue 18

Newsletter - Winter 2020

OFFA 15th anniversary – Tribute to Claire Trépanier's Career

Claire Trépanier’s interest in languages started at a young age. At three, she learned sign language so she could communicate with her older sister who had lost her hearing after a bout of whooping cough. In high school, Trépanier learned Greek, Latin and Spanish.

Last fall, Claire Trépanier retired after 26 years of service with Simon Fraser University (SFU), first as a senior lecturer in the Department of French and then as Director of the Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs (OFFA).

Trépanier was 18 years old when she came to Vancouver in one of the first cohorts of the federal government’s Explore program that provided bursaries for francophone students to learn English in an anglophone part of the country, and the reverse for English speaking youth.

“Experiencing Vancouver in the early 1970s was a very enriching, formative experience,” she says. “That’s the idea behind doing an exchange program. You study in the other language, but you also live in the other language.”

After completing her studies in French linguistics and second- or foreign-language learning and teaching, Trépanier began her teaching career at Laval University in 1977, moving to Concordia University and then Glendon College at York University before coming to SFU in 1993 as a lecturer with the Department of French.

At SFU, Trépanier helped usher in the era of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) that shifted teaching from a structural approach (“now class, repeat after me …”) to a communicative approach with authentic documents and learning through real context and CALL.

When she made the move from teaching to administration as the associate director of OFFA in 2004, Trépanier drew on her experience in the Explore program to set up an exchange program for students in SFU’s French Cohort Program in Public and International Affairs to study in France and Belgium. At a time when the university was closing many of its foreign exchange programs, Trépanier had the support of upper level administration and the French Cohort program flourished.

“When president Andrew Petter came in with his community engagement approach, we at OFFA were already making connections with the francophone community in B.C. and across Canada,” says Trépanier.

Guiding OFFA and ensuring sufficient funding for French language programs required a lot of public relations work in Ottawa as governments and their priorities changed. Trépanier’s skill in dealing with federal ministers and ministries ensured that SFU became a leader in French language post-secondary education not only in B.C. but in all of Canada. She even managed to secure the university’s membership in the association of francophone institutions across Canada, the Association des collèges et universités de la francophonie canadienne; SFU is the only member that is an anglophone institution.

“In a minority language environment, you do your work and you hope that the seeds you plant here and there will flower,” Trépanier says. “I see concrete results when students of French language education walk across the stage to get their diplomas during convocation. That is really dear to me.”

In 2018, Trépanier received the insignia of Knight of the Ordre des Palmes académiques from the French government in recognition of her contribution to French language programs at SFU and the connections the university has forged with francophone communities in B.C., Canada and globally.

“I dedicated the award to children like my granddaughter who is three and is in a francophone daycare in B.C.,” she says. “I hope that children like her will be able to get an elementary, secondary and post-secondary education in French with the option of being able to see the world and study abroad and come back and contribute to Canadian society.”

Original article from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences available here:

SFU well represented at the 2nd Summit on the Transmission of French Language in B.C.

On January 25th, Francophones from across British Columbia met to exchange ideas regarding the transmission of French. Some 15 months after the first summit devoted to this vital theme, over 150 stakeholders, including a dozen or so members of the SFU community (students and staff), took part in the discussions and participated in identifying concrete actions to ensure the vitality and sustainability of the Francophone community.

The day began with an address by Mr. Raymond Théberge, Canada’s Commissioner of Official Languages. Participants then had the opportunity to listen to a talk by Suzanne Robillard, a PhD student in sociolinguistics at the University of Ottawa, as well as presentations from Maurice Guibord of the Société historique francophone de la Colombie-Britannique and Frédéric Dupré of the Centre de leadership et d'évaluation (CLÉ).

The morning programme was aimed at inspiring and fueling discussion during the afternoon workshops. These workshops focused on identity building, inclusion, diversity, and the development of promising joint projects.

The day ended with a karaoke party led by a dynamic team from the Canadian Francophone Games.

As with the previous summit, this year’s event was made possible through the collective effort of nine Francophone organizations: the Fédération des parents francophones de la Colombie-Britannique, the Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique, the Société de développement économique de la Colombie-Britannique, the Conseil jeunesse francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, the Conseil culturel et artistique de la Colombie-Britannique, the Assemblée francophone des retraité(e)s et aîné(e)s de la Colombie-Britannique, the Réseau-Femmes Colombie-Britannique, the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, and Simon Fraser University’s Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs.

For more information on the event, visit

SFU and NATO Field School give Marina Bishara a deeper understanding of International Relations

Marina Bishara will soon graduate from Simon Fraser University (SFU). In her last year as a political science major (Honours) with an extended minor in French, she’s reflecting on her experience at university and beyond.

“The experience and knowledge that I have acquired during my time at SFU are invaluable,” says Bishara. “I was provided with all the resources that I needed from linguistic support from the Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs (OFFA) to mentorship by my instructors.”

After completing high school, Bishara came directly to SFU, motivated by her interest in the French cohort program and the hands-on, contemporary approach of the Department of Political Science.

“SFU is the only university in Western Canada where you can study political science in French,” she says. “Being the bilingual country that we are, having studied in both official languages provides me with a huge advantage on the job market.”

While studying political science, Bishara became interested in international relations. That led to attending the NATO Field School and Simulation Program which she considers her best undergraduate experience. The seven-week SFU program, run in collaboration with the NATO Defense College in Rome and Canada’s Delegation to NATO, gives students real-world experience in international relations. Students also travel to Ottawa, Belgium, Latvia and Italy, meeting diplomats and military personnel.

“I had the opportunity to converse with and be trained by world-leading experts in the field of international affairs, both in Canada and abroad,” says Bishara. “I gained insights into Canada’s relationship with its North Atlantic allies, as well as its role in the world.”

This experience increased Bishara’s understanding of international relations and has helped her improve her critical thinking skills. It’s also encouraged her to explore different career prospects after seeing diplomats, bureaucrats, lawyers and other professionals at work.

When the Field School ended, Bishara was nominated to intern for one semester as a researcher at the NATO Defense College Foundation in Rome, where she published a paper before resuming her studies at SFU. She looks back fondly at her time at the Field School and SFU.

“I can proudly say that I have gained many valuable friendships and made some great memories during my time here,” she says. “Notably, I spent time abroad with an amazing group of bright and keen students who later became my best of friends.”

Original article from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences available here:

A new face on the OFFA Communications team

If you've been to the OFFA lately, you've probably noticed a new smile in the Communications office: Laurence Gagnon has joined the team on a one-year contract as Coordinator, Student Recruitment and Student Life.

She is taking on this role while Sandie Lafleur replaces Anne Marie Gagné (who is on maternity leave) as Coordinator of Communications, Marketing & Student Recruitment.

Laurence comes to us from Montréal, bringing her contagious energy and a wealth of academic and professional experience related to her duties at the OFFA. She holds a diploma in media arts and technology, as well as a bachelor’s degree in communications.

During her studies, she took part in exchanges in Belgium and Denmark, and is currently completing a master's degree in communications through distance education at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

She has also filled a range of positions in communications and project management, including two contracts with the Conseil jeunesse francophone de la Colombie-Britannique. She knows the BC Francophone community well and is delighted to be part of the OFFA team!

Sandie / Laurence - Whom to contact and for which requirements

Sandie is responsible for all communications and marketing:

  • Development of promotional material
  • Partnership requests
  • Public relations/media relations
  • Advertising

Contact info: / 778 782-7645

Laurence is primarily focused on student recruitment and student life:

  • Visits to secondary schools
  • Hosting school groups on the SFU campus
  • Developing new initiatives related to student life
  • Managing the OFFA’s social media channels

Contact info: / 778 782-7643

New workshops - Science in Action

SFU's Faculty of Science has launched a brand-new series of "Science in Action” workshops scheduled to take place from February 18 to March 13 at SFU’s Burnaby campus.

These science workshops are offered IN FRENCH, during regular school hours and are specially designed for students in grades 8 to 12. They are presented by professors and graduate students in the Faculty of Science.

Space is limited and will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. We invite teachers to register their groups as soon as possible.

To register a group or to get more information about the programme, please contact for full details. Please note that each group must comprise at least 20 students.

View the detailed programme.