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'It's cool, different and useful'

CamBay French class a hit with students


CAMBRIDGE BAY – A group of Grade 10 students at Cambridge Bay's Kiilinik High School know how to enjoy Halloween during class time by dressing up in costumes and singing about Halloween – in French.

This month's theme song for their French class helped them learn many Halloween-related words in French, like the difficult-to-pronounce "citrouille" or pumpkin.

Cambridge Bay's high school is the only Nunavut school outside of Iqaluit that offers students the chance to study basic French.

Kiilinik has been teaching French for the past 14 years, thanks to the continued presence of French-speaking teachers in the community.

Vice-prinicipal Patti Bligh's French class is for beginners only, although two students who studied French with her last year now study the language through a correspondence course.

Although only a handful of people in Cambridge Bay understand the use of "bonjour" as a greeting instead of hello, novice students Doug Bligh, Doug Evetalegak, Perry Nakashook, Traci O'Gorman and Tina Anawak say French is "cool," "different" and "useful."

That's why they chose to take French as an elective.

Last year, Tina Anawak travelled with a group of students from Kiilinik, who visited France on a trip led by Bligh. While in France, Tina says she realized how useful French is. She quickly learned how to ask "où est la toilette?" and when returned home from the trip, she was hungry to learn more.

But what about Inuinnaqtun, the language these bright students from the Kitikmeot are supposed to be speaking at work by 2020?

All have studied Inuinnaqtun, but all say they speak very basic Inuinnaqtun. Not a single student understands Inuinnaqtun well, although nearly all are Inuit and some even hear the language spoken at home.

Only one member of Bligh's French class opted to continue taking an Inuinnaqtun course, which is also offered as an elective to Grade 10 students at Kiilinik.

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