Iqaluit francophones hope to rebuild troubled FDEA

Nine candidates run for five seats


Candidates for seats on the Francophone District Education Authority, le conseil scolaire francophone d’Iqaluit, say they can offer the quality of leadership French-language education needs and deserves.

Nine candidates are running for five vacant seats on the FDEA, which was put under trusteeship following a mass resignation of its members on Sept. 5.

The premature collapse of the FDEA was the result of escalating complaints against the board from parents and members of the francophone community, and even FDEA board members who cited potential conflicts of interest, financial disarray and an overall lack of credibility.

Also, many members were appointees named to fill vacancies rather than elected representatives from the francophone community.

“There wasn’t any other way to deal with the problems,” said Suzanne Lefebvre, director of French programs and services at Nunavut’s department of education. Lefebvre took over as the FDEA’S trustee on Sept. 12.

Candidates in the current race — civil servants, entrepreneurs, an RCMP constable, air cadet squadron leader and a stay-at-home mom, are promising better communication and more accountability.

The candidates are: Jeffrey Barkley, Pierre Dubeau, Marco Dussault, Jacques Fortier, Wilfred Jephson, Paul Landry, Carolyn Mallory, Sonia Marchard and Claude Martel.

Several condemned the former FDEA for its secretiveness, bad organization and poor decisions as it poured time, energy and money into fighting Nunavut’s education act last winter.

While unwilling to point fingers at specific individuals within the small francophone community, candidates say they’re running to ensure the FDEA takes a different path.

“We need a vision as a group. We need to go in one direction as a group, and that hasn’t been happening,” said Wilfrid Jephson, who was president of the parent group at l’Ecole des Trois-Soleils last year. “That school has great potential.”

Most of the parents at l’Ecole des Trois-Soleils were left in the dark about important decisions made by the FDEA, Jephson said. He wants to see more involvement from parents and more contact between parents, the FDEA and school officials at Nunavut’s department of education.

Paul Landry, president of the association of Nunavut francophones, l’Association des francophones de Nunavut, was a member of a working group formed last year to suggest amendments to Bill 1.

Landry wasn’t happy with the FDEA’s final decision to reject this group’s work and to call the act unconstitutional.

Landry, who says he’s an “ideal candidate” for the FDEA, points to his long-time involvement as a parent of a former student and supporter of French-language education in Iqaluit. Landry’s platform includes a promise to work on better communication, more openness and a solid five-year development plan.

Landry also favours bringing the FDEA under the francophone association’s wing, so “everyone works together for the benefit of the French language.”

Jeffrey Barkley, who served only briefly last summer as an appointee to the former FDEA, says he’s “very optimistic” the new board will receive more support from the department of education and all the various stakeholders involved in French-language education in Iqaluit.

On Oct. 20, only the 80 or so parents who have children enrolled at l’Ecole des Trois-Soleils are eligible to vote for the new board. Before the election, eligible voters will receive colour-coded information telling them where they can vote.

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