Ottawa doles out $10 million to Iqaluit’s French school expansion

“This will be a space of cultural importance”

Iqaluit’s École des Trois-Soleils is slated to undergo a major renovation that will see a gymnasium and new classrooms being built, while its on-site daycare, Les Petits Nanooks, will see a major expansion. (File photo)

By Sarah Rogers

Ottawa will put $10.7 million into upgrades to Iqaluit’s French school and childcare centre, the federal government announced on Monday, Nov. 9.

École des Trois-Soleils is home to about 85 students from kindergarten through Grade 12, though the current facility does not have sufficient space for many of its secondary classes, which are instead held at neighbouring Inuksuk High School, in English.

Trois-Soleils is now slated to undergo a major renovation that will see a gymnasium and new classrooms being built, while its on-site daycare, Les Petits Nanooks, will see a major expansion.

Mélanie Joly, Canada’s minister of economic development and official languages, announced the funding during a news conference broadcast by video conference.

“This will have a great positive impact not just for students but for all of Iqaluit,” she said.

“Iqaluit is a very busy and expanding community.”

Overall, the renovation will cost $19.8 million, the remainder of which is to be covered by the Government of Nunavut.

The school expansion was not a result of government planning, however; it resulted from a lawsuit that Nunavut’s francophone school board filed against the GN in 2015.

The lawsuit demanded the GN offer French-language education and school facilities on par with Iqaluit’s other schools, as per Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The GN and the school board reached an agreement and signed a settlement in 2018.

The new addition will include a gymnasium with a performing arts stage, a science lab, a trades workshop, other classroom space plus expanded space for the daycare centre.

Nunavut’s Department of Community and Government Services has contracted Ottawa-based Parkin Architects Ltd. and Winnipeg-based Accutech Engineering Inc. to oversee the design and construction of the school’s new spaces.

The new addition is expected to be complete by 2023.

“This will be a space of cultural importance,” said Education Minister David Joanasie during the Nov. 9 news conference.

“I’m very excited to imagine all the possibilities that come with this expansion.”

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(13) Comments:

  1. Posted by Great, but on

    Great news for the school. That being said, seems unfair for every other school in Nunavut. 19.8 million for 85 students. There will also be child care space available but will that be a French speaking child care facility? Will there be a requirement for parents or children to speak French? Nunavut communities are having trouble getting Inuktitut speaking classes and child care, the French school in Iqaluit is receiving a total of just under 233 thousand per student. Typical I guess, GN, NTI and ITK working to weaken the Inuktitut language with the creation of “Inuktut” language but the GN working with the Federal Government to improve the one Nunavut French school. I wonder what kind of response smaller communities, Grise Ford, Resolute Bay, Chesterfield Inlet, Whale Cove, receive when they request funds to improve their school or programs, they don’t have enough students for it?

  2. Posted by Tone deaf Joanasie on

    The French school expansion was going ahead no matter what. Most people will be mad but they took a gamble 20+ years ago and went to the Supreme Court and won. They didn’t want to be paired with English schools. If Inuktitut speakers want their Inuktitut language education you need to take a risk and cut out English. Do it at the territorial or federal level, but the status quo won’t ever work.
    But this announcement also could have been timed a lot better and that falls on the GN. They just passed Bill 25 which was an emotional rollercoaster.

  3. Posted by The blueprint on

    To anyone upset about the state of inuktitut education in Nunavut: pay close attention to how they got to this point. The blueprint is right there.
    If you continue to accept bilingual English-Inuktitut schools, they’ll always be able to say “sorry no Inuktitut teach this year…we’ll try next year. We can go ahead with this year because we have a English speaking teachers.” If English wasn’t used as a crutch every single time then you’ll start getting what the French language community has unapologetically gotten for themselves. Friends and family and government officials will argue with you and say it’s impossible to cut out English. You need to fight for it.

    • Posted by Uvanga on

      Where are the trained Inuit teachers that we can trust with our children. Many dont even know the simple ICI standards. I dont think Inuit are ready to give up English as they see it as the language in power.

  4. Posted by Every vote counts on

    Doesn’t change much but there is 110 students right now at the school.

  5. Posted by Attention to detail – s. 23 of Constitution on

    People can’t forget this is all possible because of s. 23 of the Charter/Constitution. For anyone suggesting that schools cut out English in order to strengthen funding for Inuktitut language education, or saying this is about GN/NTI/ITK weakening Inuktitut by allowing for more French language spending etc – it doesn’t work that way.
    This only happened because the Canadian constitution mandates French language schooling as a right. There is (sadly) no similar constitutional protection for indigenous languages anywhere in our constitution. Because there is no section which forces spending such as this for Inuktitut, there is no comparison to be made.
    The constitution only protects the languages of the two colonizing peoples which created Canada, it does not protect any of our indigenous languages for a reason. That is, because Canada was created with the aim of eradicating indigenous languages, cultures, and peoples. There can be no way to secure funding via the Constitution in the same way this played out for the French language school system.

    • Posted by Hyperbole on

      “That is, because Canada was created with the aim of eradicating indigenous languages, cultures, and peoples.”
      No one can take the rest of your point seriously with this kind of nonsensical rhetoric being laced in.
      Yes, there is no constitutional protection short of s. 35 rights that may entail language protections. The Inuit negotiated a land claim protected by the Constitution you say aims to eradicate indeligenois languages and culture, but they did not go the distance there to secure similar protections as the and they traded that for other things in their billion dollar deal. They must live with their bargain.
      English is the language of business, and anyone without a solid grasp of it will be destined to live in Quebec or be under performing in work for life. The only benefit of knowing French I have seen is government hiring preferences, which is unfortunately why a great deal of jobs are occupied by less candidates with lacking merits but they can parler francais.

      • Posted by Tulugak on

        That’s exactly the rethoric used by colonial powers to justify the imposition of colonial languages. They wish minorities fight with each other so that they remain divided, which reinforces the colonial power. My advice? learn as many languages as you can, it’s well worth it. Francophones got funding? Check how they worked for it and do the same, section 35 of the constitution may provide useful tools to succeed as well as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People that recognize Indigenous languages as essential.

      • Posted by Learn your history on

        Maybe you should have paid attention in history class, then you would recognise facts instead of calling it “nonsensical rhetoric”.
        The goal of the Canadian colonies was to exert influence of England and New France onto indigenous land, suppressing the existing influences, cultures and peoples. The very first governors spent time suppressing these by force and some of the first laws of Canada were designed to target and suppress indigenous peoples. Clearly the founders of Canada would agree with me, given how proudly they went about doing all that, creating systems which continued these aims until well into the 1960s.
        “But they did not go the distance”/”live with their bargain”… more failure to understand history on display with the way you disparage and dismiss and flatten how negotiations took place and in what context… if only it was simple and easy as you try to pretend it was. You clearly don’t know what those treaty negotiations were like.

        • Posted by Historian on

          The ‘treaty’ negotions were finalized in the land claim 20 years ago by sophisticated parties. This is not a treaty from 200 years ago where people assume there is an imbalance of bargaining power. The history is very clear Inuit did not bargain for constitutional protection of their language. The end. What are your alternative facts?
          Too many people like you like to set up a straw man and judge historical leadship figures in Canada by modern standards. You don’t convince me with that rhetoric. With the chips on the table, and being faced with European wars on and a need for power and resources on one hand, and a vast frontierland riddled with danger, you’d behave no differently. The truth is that without the past actions there would be no Canada, no freedom, and no prosperity as we know it. I have no guilt in living in the modern era and accepting that languages live and die based on utility. If Inuit truly value their language they can elect different Inuit in what is effectively a government of Inuit to pass different laws or, better yet, use the billions of dollars sitting in NTIs bank account to fund change.
          But then again I am apparently ignorant of history and just spouting the typical colonial propoganda by the sole fact that I disagree. How about Debate my arguments, not insult my intelligence and degree in history.

  6. Posted by Inuit Class on

    When Inuit got Nunavut territory, they thought they finally had home rule or self government. They only got a public territory in exchange for finally formally cede and giving up their ancestral rights.
    Many Inuit still prefer to hire Qallunat and Ouiouikut. In most cases, it is not preference but stipulations of hiring codes made by Qallunat and Ouiouikut.

  7. Posted by Nobody on

    Isn’t that something, Inuit are taught in English but French are taught in French? And this is in Nunavut, where Inuit have to wait another 30 years to have Inuktitut taught in schools. Who is really in power here? sad

  8. Posted by Resident on

    I really wish the Inuit leaders would work along the French community to share tips on how to fight for Inuktitut. There are tools that minority French communities used across Canada that could be useful for Inuit.

    Make Inuktitut classes mandatory for GN workers – 3 hours every morning, and you will:
    1- Weed out anyone who is not supportive of Inuktut
    2- Get a workforce that can communicate in Inuktut within 2 years

    That’d be awesome!

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