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‘People come from everywhere’ – how this local Francophone school welcomes immigrants

Welcoming immigrants and newcomers to Prince George continues to be a collaborative effort between the province’s French school board, Conseil scolaire francophone, and non-profit Le Cercle des Canadiens Français
In northern B.C., the CSF has four French-language schools.

From language barriers, to differences in climate, to difficulties accessing the resources needed to integrate into a new community, there’s certainly no shortage of challenges that families face when immigrating to Canada.

No one should have to take on these challenges alone, though, says Nancy Gauthier, École Franco-nord’s principal at B.C.’s French school board, the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique (CSF). And, with their Prince George elementary school École Franco-nord’s support, they don’t have to.

Immigrant and new-to-B.C. families who choose to enrol their children in one of the CSF’s schools have access to settlement services in school financed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada: “Travailleuses et travailleurs en établissement des familles immigrantes dans les écoles” (TÉFIÉ) national program, which helps students and their families, alike, integrate quickly and sustainably into the school and community.

“Although Prince George is a growing English-speaking community, there is a surprisingly large Francophone population,” says Gauthier. “Over the years, we have seen an increase and diversity in the number of customers who speak French and others who simply adore the French language and are learning it.”

“It is important to us that our students learn the value of diversity, and the best way to achieve this is to show them how a community thrives when people come from everywhere and share their cultures and values,” she adds.

Known as School District 93, the CSF also collaborates with the non-profit Le cercle des canadiens français when it comes to helping families adjust to Canadian life in Prince George.

Le Cercle has been working to promote the French language and culture for the past 63 years, with their centre offering a variety of services in French, including French classes, a preschool and a new initiative that assists new French immigrants in settling into Prince George. A “Welcoming Francophone Communities” initiative lauched by Le Cercle has also been offered to newcomers with the goal to create an integration model for Francophone immigrants in a minority setting, where French is not the main language spoken.

“At the CSF, we provide a safe learning environment and want to make sure that everyone feels respected and welcomed. We also embrace the culture and traditions of our diverse school population. For example, our students learn how to cook different meals and learn about different traditions, including Indigenous education,” says Gauthier.

In northern B.C., the CSF has four French-language schools, including the elementary school École Franco-nord and secondary school Secondaire Duchess Park in Prince George, the elementary school École Jack-Cook in Terrace and the elementary school École la Grande-Ourse in Smithers.

“When you are a student in our school, you and your family become part of a special community. Not only will you benefit from the best French education available, but you will also benefit from free transportation, small class sizes and extra support for students in need,” says Gauthier. “We have an after-school care program, a community garden, music instruction, choirs, technology that allows each student to have an iPad, and a robotics and science lab.”

As is the case with all of the CSF’s schools, students must be considered “rights holders” to attend. This means their parents must be Canadian citizens with a Francophone background or otherwise meet the criteria under Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

There are a few nuances to this, however, be sure to check out the CSF’s admission requirements if you are interested in enroling.

For more information about the CSF’s schools, visit  

N’attendez plus! Inscrivez votre enfant dans une des écoles du CSF dans le nord de la province!