SFU lands $3 million to expand programs in French

April 01, 2019
(from left to right): OFFA Director Gino LeBlanc, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie and SFU President Andrew Petter.

Official news release from the Government of Canada available here.

The Government of Canada is renewing and extending French program initiatives at SFU with $3 million in funding for the university’s Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs (OFFA). The funding will expand courses and programs in French up to 2020.

As the only university in British Columbia to offer studies in French in various disciplines, SFU has long been recognized as a leader in French-language education in B.C.

“This investment of funds for SFU will continue to support our commitment to train the next generation of French teachers, at a time of increasing demand,” says Kris Magnusson, dean of the SFU’s Faculty of Education.

“It will also enable SFU to expand its overall French programming across faculties for those who share the value of learning in both of Canada’s official languages.”

Since its inception in 2004, OFFA has played an instrumental role in supporting programs in French at SFU by not only providing academic services in French but also developing strong partnerships and collaborations with provincial, national and international francophone communities.

“SFU understands the importance of language and culture in the Canadian social fabric and has integrated this in its vision and curriculum,” says OFFA Director Gino LeBlanc. “For 15 years, SFU has been a leader in Western Canada in post-secondary education in French and has promoted Canada's official languages, sharing the values and cultures of those linguistic communities.”

“We aspire to be the university of choice for all students graduating from French immersion, French second-language programs and French-language schools in B.C. Our university programs complete B.C.’s French education continuum here at SFU: from early childhood to post-secondary.”

The government funding is part of a national strategy announced today at SFU by the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie. The strategy is to boost teacher recruitment and retention in minority French-language schools, French immersion and French-as-a-second-language programs across Canada.

The government is committing $62.6 million over four years in the strategy to support projects, initiatives and a national table on French as a second language. Projects will help to better understand the teacher shortage issues and increase the capacity to recruit and retain French teachers.

French, along with English, has always been an integral part of the Canadian identity. However, in recent years, school officials across the country have reported a serious shortage of teachers in Francophone minority schools, as well as teachers of French immersion and French-as-a-second-language programs. This has major implications for official-language minority communities and the promotion of bilingualism, which the government is addressing through this latest funding initiative.