Trois-Soleils parents in Iqaluit want new school director and commissioners
“There’s no accountability, and that’s a fundamental problem”
A group of Iqaluit parents are calling for the resignation of Nunavut’s French school board director and its elected commissioners for what the group calls mismanagement of the territory’s only French school.
The Association des parents francophones du Nunavut (APFN) alleges that Nunavut’s French-language school board, the Commission scolaire francophone du Nunavut, has shown a complete lack of transparency in dealing with staffing changes at its only school, École des Trois-Soleils in Iqaluit.
The parents association, which formed about two years ago, has now begun circulating a petition asking for the resignation of the school board’s director general, Réjane Vaillancourt and its five-member elected council.
Tim Brown, president of the parents’ association, said the group is most concerned with what he calls a lack of communication and consultation with parents about recent staffing changes at Trois-Soleils, while the school administration copes with two teachers who have taken a leave of absence.
“We have had disagreements with the school board about decisions they’ve made, but we have no recourse,” Brown said.
Since the school board has cancelled its last two public monthly council meetings, there’s no way for parents to weigh in on those decisions, Brown said.
And as a result of parents’ concerns, Brown said francophone families are pulling their children out of the school.
“We can’t afford that,” he said. “There’s no accountability, and that’s a fundamental problem.”
The only option the parents association would have — although it’s not one the group is considering, Brown said — is to go to the Government of Nunavut’s education department, who in turn could force the school board into trusteeship.
That’s a “drastic move,” he admits, which would require documenting financial mismanagement.
In the meantime, the parents group is hoping to gain support through an online petition, which has been signed by 41 people to date.
It’s not clear who all those people are — 41 people could represent a majority of the Trois-Soleils families (the school has a population of 90 students) or just concerned Nunavummiut.
“We’d like to see about 60 or 70 per cent of that group sign the petition, so we have a clear sense of support,” said Brown.
The petition will remain online until Feb. 2, at which point the association plans to present it to the Nunavut Department of Education.
Brown points out that it’s not only Trois-Soleils parents who have a say here though — any person in Nunavut who is a French-language rights holder has a stake in the French school board.
That includes any Nunavummiut francophones, or residents who speak French as a first language.
Under the charter of rights and freedoms, Canadians are entitled to education in either of the country’s two official languages.
But Brown said that the debate is not about language rights, but rather about the quality of education in Nunavut.
“This is a fundamental issue for the francophone community, looking for more accountability and transparency,” Brown said. “This should be a lightning rod for other DEAs and communities in Nunavut.”