Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut November 07, 2018 - 8:07 am

Iqaluit’s French school to get long-awaited expansion

École des Trois-Soleils will get a gym, four more classrooms and additional daycare space

The settlement, reached in June, will see the expansion of Nunavut’s sole francophone school, École des Trois-Soleils in Iqaluit. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
The settlement, reached in June, will see the expansion of Nunavut’s sole francophone school, École des Trois-Soleils in Iqaluit. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

Iqaluit’s sole francophone school will be expanded, following the settlement of a lawsuit in June between the Government of Nunavut and the territory’s French-language school board.

École des Trois-Soleils first opened its doors in 2001 to a tiny population of 35 students, which has roughly tripled since.

But as the first wave of students moved through the secondary levels, the school had to rely on resources in neighbouring schools—gymnasium, classroom space and teachers—to maintain its high school curriculum. Many Trois-Soleils students ended up doing most of their secondary studies at Inuksuk high school.

The Commission scolaire francophone du Nunavut launched the lawsuit in 2015 under Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees minority-language educational rights to French-speaking communities outside Quebec.

The details of the settlement remain largely confidential.

But Nunavut’s Department of Education has already begun moving forward with plans to renovate the school; while introducing the capital budget for the Department of Education on Oct. 31, Education Minister David Joanasie told MLAs that design work has begun for an addition to Trois-Soleils.

The addition to the school will include the construction of a gymnasium, four additional classrooms, and increased space for the francophone daycare it houses, Les petits Nanooks, the department told Nunatsiaq News in an emailed statement.

The funding of the expansion will be shared between the GN and the federal Department of Canadian Heritage, while Nunavut’s Department of Community and Government Services is overseeing the design and construction of the addition.

The Department of Education said it has hosted a series of preplanning meetings with the school board starting in 2014, with the most recent meeting held in February 2017.

The GN hasn’t said when the new addition is set to be complete.

The lawsuit had asked the GN’s Department of Education for funding to hire more personnel, including three more teachers, a vice-principal and a full-time secretary.

The school board also demanded “exclusive decision-making power” in hiring and establishing its own curriculum, as spelled out in Nunavut’s Education Act, though it’s unclear if the settlement touched on that.

Doug Garson, an Iqaluit parent and lawyer, welcomed the agreement and news that Iqaluit’s French school would be expanded.

Garson was the force behind the lawsuit in 2015, which he filed alongside the school board in 2015, but withdrew his involvement earlier this year for personal reasons.

He’s had two children attend Trois-Soleils, one who graduated in 2017.

“I’m very proud,” he said.

“It was a project for me that I was very invested in. I felt very strongly about it and I was able to persuade the school board to join in,” he said.

“If they can make the necessary expansion to the school, there are more and more parents who will choose that option and it will draw more francophone families to Iqaluit.”

“And it’s another space and resource for the community.”

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(25) Comments:

#1. Posted by Northern Guy on November 07, 2018

“Another resource for the community” ... YEAH RIGHT! Have you ever tried to get access to space at Trois-Soleils for community-related extra-curricular activities? It is nigh on impossible and I don’t see that changing after the expansion.

#2. Posted by The Feds on November 07, 2018

Nothing like providing more money to a failing Francophone school in Nunavut. Less than 50 students go there k-8 (they don’t even offer hs courses anymore) When will the feds recognize Inuktitut as a national language and put more money into the development of fully Inuktitut schools?

#3. Posted by Think about it on November 07, 2018

So let me see if I understand, the French school with roughly 100 students, feel they are overcrowded and they go to court to force the GN to hire 5 additional full time staff and expand.  Has anyone walked around other schools in Iqaluit? 

I think this is where the divide starts.  I have rights so even though you do not have enough teachers and your classrooms are overcrowded, I have my rights so you will have to suffer.

This is a private school funded with very scarce public money.  And for those of you who say its public, just try to registrar your french speaking child there, if you do not have a french background.  Heck even try to use the facility after hours.

#4. Posted by Ouiviq on November 07, 2018

Maybe Inuit should put in a lawsuit to the GN for more teachers, more Inuktitut classes, more classrooms….It would be another space and resource for the community!

#5. Posted by oui on November 07, 2018

@2: if you want to improve Inuktitut language education, why fight French language education for 2nd place? English is the reason why Inuktitut is dying.

Why not take inspiration from the French language school system that flourished in an English-dominated continent instead of targeting them as a competitor?

#6. Posted by not true on November 07, 2018

#2 - your information is wrong.  There are closer to 100 students, including high school students.

#7. Posted by Bonne chance on November 07, 2018

#2 Asks “When will the feds recognize Inuktitut as a national language…”

Hmm… probably never.  Why should they?

#8. Posted by Really. on November 07, 2018

GN doesnt actually support inuktitut and you know this when there isnt an inuktitut school in Iqaluit. Iqaluit is a community that really needs it. How is there even a French school before inukitut school.

#9. Posted by Public money on November 07, 2018

If they’re getting all this public money they should be much more open to accepting children of non-french speaking parents.  French is a national language and other people should be able to learn it as well…Anyone who takes public money should have to open their doors to everyone or they shouldn’t be getting public support at all. 

From everything I’ve seen their attitude is very insular and unwelcoming to all who aren’t of francophone descent.

#10. Posted by .... on November 07, 2018

@3: the school is full and can’t take in more students. Why would they give priority to kids who don’t speak it at all and whose parents won’t commit to learning it (until they try to enroll their kids in a French school…suddenly they’re interested in adopting French) when there are lots of families in town who actually speak French at home?

The problem isn’t the French school. They’re organized and seized an opportunity for more funding and growth. Meanwhile, what are English language schools doing? What’s their vision? Who are their leaders?

#11. Posted by 1234 on November 07, 2018

The reason they only allow children who’s parents have been to French school is to ensure the children will have support in French at home so they can succeed.

Had I been to French school this school would have been my fist choice to send my children to as they are following the Quebec curriculum which is on par with the rest of the country, unlike the other schools in Iqaluit where children struggle to be accepted into university.

Everyone keeps complaining about the lack of Inuktitut in the schools yet we barely have any Inuit teachers. And the second language Inuktitut teachers that we do have don’t know how to teach it, my kids practiced colouring and sewing every year and didn’t learn a thing for 8 years.

If you really want to see Inuktitut thrive stop complaining and be part of the solution, enroll in NTEP and start teaching!

#12. Posted by J'dis ça d'même... on November 07, 2018

#11 They are mostly following the Alberta curriculum wich is also on par with the rest of the country…

Why people dont think about this on a positive way? Like it or not, there is a lot of Francophones around and they are part of this community. You kwon a lot of them and I bet you appreciate their work and friendship. Good news for kids are good news for everyone…

#13. Posted by Questioning on November 07, 2018

#s 3 and 9 make valid points. French speaking students deserve the opportunity to take schooling in French as per Federal regulations. At the same time though if this is only for majority French speakers from outside Nunavut, then it is only fair that the money only come from the Federal government and money raised by fundraisers. As much as Nunavut is obligated to provide some funding, it would be a nice gesture to offer not to take it and self fund it allowing that money to be spent on education benefiting Inuit, ie. the purpose of Nunavut’s existence.

Otherwise it should not be exclusionary be open to all who wish to take it and show a desire to learn the language. This is more so when Inuit or non-Inuit at the K-5 levels would find learning the language simpler, because children pick up and learn languages more easily at those ages.

#14. Posted by Non non non on November 07, 2018

I am surprised no one has raised the offensive rant an official from that school put on facebook. I hope that is not the attitude of the rest of the staff. No money for this school until we are sure they are not passing on these offensive anti inuit opinions to their students.

#15. Posted by I know them and they are great! on November 07, 2018

#14 No worries, I can confirm that no offensive anti-inuit stuff is pass to the students of this school. We can send the money!

This staff is friendly, competent and hard workers. The kids, most of them born here, are amazing like every single kid in this territory…

Good news!

#16. Posted by stop complaining for the sake of it on November 08, 2018

For those complaining about spots reserved just for children of parents with French education seem to forget that it is based on section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Yes it is constitutional law! Similarly, it is law, through the NLCA that gives Inuit an advantage over non-Inuit when it comes to employment and a lot of other matters. You cannot argue the first law is unfair yet happily embrace the second. Each was set for a reason, and is totally fair as far as I am concerned.

#17. Posted by Think about it on November 08, 2018

#16 - yes it is law, but does that make it right.  Prior to 1865 you were legally allowed to own and sell people. Prior to 1965 you could only vote if you were a certain race.  And in 2018 you are only allowed to attend certain schools if you have the right family background.  All legal, but does that make it right?

#18. Posted by Number Sixteen on November 08, 2018

#17 comparing the constitution and nlca to slavery and race-based voting is a misleading exaggeration. the two laws are there to protect certain groups of Canadians. just for the record, anglophones in francophone provinces have the same advantage to put their children in English speaking schools. this is not really an issue in the rest of the country because there are good schools in both languages. in Iqaluit it makes a difference because despite its low standards, the french school is way better than the alternatives. Btw, NLCA does the same by providing laws like Inuit priority hiring, that if not in place, would make it nearly impossible for locals to get even the basic of jobs. You could argue elsewhere it would be considered discriminatory, but in the NU context, it is totally fair! Meanwhile, slavery was unfair in ALL CONTEXT!

#19. Posted by kindness on November 08, 2018

Thanks to some posters for correcting info, like the number of students and the fact that the highschool program does still exist.  Many probably don’t realize how many kids in the school are also Inuit.  Many don’t know that ETS has done a lot of programming and is very welcoming to use of Inuktitut and ISV being implemented in the school.  Francophones have constitutionally protected language rights and have fought alongside many Inuit supporting their rights.  They know what it is like to be treated like a minority and have a different language.  Instead of people getting angry that one school is getting something another isn’t ... put all that energy into fighting for your school!  If you want to see more Inuktitut and programming, fight for it!  No one gets anything just from complaining or being mad at Government or at other people for that matter.  And to the commenter “non non non” ... I read that ‘rant’ you are referring to and you are completely WRONG about it.

#20. Posted by Fake Plastic Tree on November 08, 2018

#17 Your point is totally absurd.

There’s no analogy between the purchasing of slaves or racial disenfranchisement and the constitutional right to be educated in one of Canada’s official languages.

Unreal that you think this is a meaningful comment… wow

#21. Posted by Think about it on November 08, 2018

Please read my post, this is not about the constitutional right to be educated in one of Canada’s official languages. It is about the fact that a group can deny my french speaking child admission, because I am not Francophone.

I am just asking why.

#22. Posted by Suddenly an Anglophone cares about French? on November 08, 2018

#21 because that school’s existence is based on providing education for the children of a minority group in their own language. Exactly the same as Inuktitut daycare, and the same would apply to Inuktitut schools if they existed. Catholic schools apply a similar concept to children of Catholics down south, but since there aren’t enough to fill the school they admit others too.

#23. Posted by A member of our community on November 09, 2018

Just a note: as a Francophone, I am happy the resources are available for Francophone kids. The reason why law requires a child to have a parent speaking French to access the Francophone school is for insuring French is passed on within the community without threatening use of the other languages. It is the same for an Anglophone school in Quebec.

I am sad some people consider the Francophone school as a competitor to a potential Inuktituk school. I don’t know any Francophone who does not wish for Inuit to have access to education in Inuktituk. The problem lies with Anglophone schools, not the single Francophone one. Why isn’t one of the Anglophone schools committed to education solely in Inuktituk? It could start a trend and in a few years, schools could all be in Inuktituk, with one Francophone school and one or two Anglophone schools for the students who have a Francophone or Anglophone parent.

#24. Posted by Simon Houle on November 10, 2018

Finally, this news is on the “olders stories” side of the website and nobody care anymore! Francophobe, see you in three years!

#25. Posted by French is standardized on November 10, 2018

French is standardized and uses roman orthography, which gives it a huge advantage over Inuktitut.

If Inuktitut is not standardized, it is likely that Nunavut will one day have more French speakers than Inuktitut speakers.

Already in Ottawa, Inuit kids are more likely to speak French than Inuktitut. 

Standardize or bust. It’s not too late but we need to act now!

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