Iqaluit parents protest French program cut, absence of consultation
“My family never received any information from the school"
A group of 20 concerned parents came to an Iqaluit District Education Authority meeting Sept. 23 to complain about the recent decision to drop Aqsarniit Middle School’s Grade 7 French program.
Glen Tucker of Iqaluit walked through Nakasuk Elementary School — where the meeting was held — clutching a petition bearing the names of more than 100 people.
“We have some questions that need to be answered, and nobody’s answering them for us,” Tucker said.
Tucker, whose daughter attends Grade 7 and wants to continue studying French, started a group called “parents supportive of the French language” last week and collected the signatures at Northmart in the evening.
“I’m even frustrated to the point now that I want to take someone and shake them — what’s going on?” Tucker said, standing to the side of a classroom next to a colourful bookshelf.
Another parent, Catherine Hoyt, said her daughter, who takes French as a second language choice, is still in Grade 4, but she wants her daughter to eventually join the intensive French program at Aqsarniit when the time comes.
Now, she’s concerned that might not happen.
Hoyt said French classes are actually getting scaled back at elementary schools too, and that “it is clear to me that it will lead to the removal of French instruction from the middle school and then from high school grades.”
“It seems this is already happening at the middle school without consultation of parents or the community,” Hoyt said.
Mandy Hickey, another concerned parent, said her son should have started the intensive French program this year, but found out through other parents — not the middle school’s administration — that the program had been cancelled.
“My family never received any information from the school asking us if our son should be in intensive French this year or advising us that the program is in jeopardy of being cancelled,” Hickey said.
“More families like myself were not contacted last year,” she said.
Hickey wanted to know the minimum number of students that could keep the program afloat, and asked if there could be a survey sent out to all parents at the middle school to see if there are any new students interested in taking the program.
Parents at the meeting counted that there were close to 13 students wanting to join.
Towards the end of the meeting, Tucker also peppered the IDEA board with questions.
“The question for everyone now is, where do we go from here? Is anything going to be done this year before it’s too late?” Tucker said.
“Do we trust you guys or do we go to [Qikiqtani School Operations]?” he asked
But Tucker and Hickey didn’t get many answers at the hour-long meeting.
The IDEA board members said at the end of the meeting that they “will investigate,” board member Andrew Tagak said.
Another board member, Sabrina Sherman, said “questions need to be asked,” and then asked parents to give her their email addresses so she can send information to them.
IDEA board member Jack Anawak, who has put his name forward as a candidate for the next territorial election, wondered if funding for the program had been cut.
“Presumably, if the Heritage Canada fund is still coming in, there is no need to cut the French education,” Anawak said.
“If the funding is there, all we need to do is some creative programming to ensure that French language instructions continue wherever [it’s] supposed to be,” he said.