Canadian Parents for French, the beginning…
In 1977, Keith Spicer was serving as Canada’s first Commissioner of Official Languages. Interested in the bilingualism of Canada’s youth, he met with groups of parents across Canada who wanted their children to learn French as a second-language but who ran into roadblocks at the local school board level.
To get the ball rolling, Mr. Spicer offered to find some seed money—enough to organize a national conference of like‐minded parents. The result was an event called “Parents’ Conference on French Language and Exchange Opportunities,” which took place in Ottawa in March of 1977 with 30 people from all ten provinces. Saskatchewan parent participants at this conference were Vivian Fior and Dr. William Chernenkoff. Also in attendance was Robert Cousin, a Program Consultant for the French Department of Education of the Government of Saskatchewan, who acted as an observer. It was during this weekend‐long conference that Canadian Parents for French was officially founded as a volunteer‐based advocacy group, a collective of parents who wanted to ensure that children would have the opportunity to become bilingual in the Canadian school system.
The first conference determined a few things that are fundamental to the history of Canadian Parents for French. The group outlined its goals and elected a five-parent Provisional Executive Committee, led by Inaugural President Pat Webster of Ontario. Her fellow Directors were Judith Madley (British Columbia), David Sanders (Prairie Region), Elizabeth Annesley (Quebec), and Mary Lou Morrison (Atlantic Region). See this short video on our humble beginnings.
Following the Parents’ Conference, Canadian Parents for French published its first newsletter in June 1977. Click here to read the newsletter that outlines some of the challenges that parents of French-second-language students faced in 1977 and recommendations for improving access to French-language programs across Canada. The following is an excerpt from this first issue on a piece written by Keith Spicer, then Commissioner of Official Languages.
This original small group of concerned parents who met in Ottawa 40 years ago has evolved into a proactive national network with ten Branch offices and some 150 chapters in communities from coast to coast to coast.
The following Mission, Vision and Value Statements were in place for many years:
Mission Statement: Canadian Parents for French (CPF) is the national network of volunteers which values French as an integral part of Canada and which is dedicated to the promotion and creation of French-second-language learning opportunities for young Canadians.
Vision Statement: A Canada where French- and English-speakers live together in mutual respect with an understanding and appreciation of each other’s language and culture and where linguistic duality forms an integral part of society.
Values Statement: In Canadian Parents for French we value commitment to our mandate, the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge, and the taking of initiative and responsibility so that we achieve credibility and effectiveness.
Today, our organization is guided by a core idea, a mission, and a distinguishing characteristic. Coming into use in 2016, they are as follows:
Core Idea: Every student in Canada should have the opportunity to learn and use French.
Mission: Canadian Parents for French furthers bilingualism by promoting and creating opportunities for students to learn and use French.
Distinguishing Characteristic: Canadian Parents for French is a nationwide, research-informed, volunteer organization that champions the opportunity to learn and use French for all those who call Canada home.
Canadian Parents for French National Annual General Meetings
1977: Ottawa, ON
Branches Across Canada
Canadian Parents for French has ten branches across Canada. Here is when each Branch was incorporated:
1977: Pat Webster
National Executive Directors
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