top of page

Advocating for equitable French-language education in BC

By Astérie Ndikumana, Daniella Melanson, Elizabeth Rush, Kayleigh MacMillan, Nicholas Renaud, Patrice Oscienny, and Sonja Gowda, Advisory Committee on French Programs and Services members


The Advisory Committee on French Programs and Services (ACFPS) supports French-language education in BC by advocating for equitable working conditions and resources for members who teach in French-language programs. We explore approaches to French-language teaching and learning that meet BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) commitments to reconciliation, decolonization, anti-racism, indigenization, and climate justice.


The committee has been organizing biennial coalition meetings with partners in the education sector as far back as 2011. The goal of the coalition meetings is to foster collaborative and collective action in supporting French education in BC. Our partners include the Ministry of Education and Child Care, the BC School Trustees Association, SOGI 123, and the Accessible Resource Centre BC. After a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we planned a new coalition meeting in spring 2023, the first since pandemic restrictions were put in place.


The meeting resulted in the development of three themes that outline how we can collectively work to improve French education. The themes (see below) highlight actionable items that can support teachers and students with French as a first or working language (FFWL).


The BCTF has already begun to respond to these themes. For example, specific French-language spaces have become a regular part of new teachers’ Zoom gatherings so FFWL members can develop belonging and community as outlined in theme three. Additionally, the French spaces within the Zoom gatherings have provided important professional development on topics such as inclusive and gender-neutral language, and interconnections between Indigenous languages and French.


The ACFPS has also brought forth recommendations to the BCTF Executive Committee to ensure the language used by the Federation when communicating in French is in line with inclusive language guidelines in French from the Canadian government. (See the Inclusionnaire: recueil de solutions inclusives, an excellent resource that offers suggestions for inclusive language to replace traditionally gendered words used to describe people.)


Moving forward, the ACFPS will present the three themes at the BCTF spring zone meetings to get more member input to inform future recommendations to the BCTF Executive Committee. Another coalition meeting is planned for May 2024 to check in on the progress that has been made by coalition partners and to discuss next steps.


As a committee, we look forward to strengthening our relationships with our partners in the education sector to achieve more for students and teachers and improve French-language education in our province.


THEME 1: Cultural safety and linguistic agency

  • Deliberately present different forms of French (vocabulary, syntax, varieties).

  • Explicitly teach approaches to inclusive and gender-neutral French with students to foster their linguistic agency (i.e., show that learners have choices in terms of how they represent identity and community in French).

  • Emphasize the interconnection of Indigenous languages and French on the territories where schools are located, and address how First Peoples Principles of Learning relate to learning and using French in community.

  • Promote a model of the school community as an active producer of French-language culture rather than a consumer of culture.


THEME 2: Program accessibility

  • Improve the physical and economic accessibility of French-language resources that reflect a diversity of Francophone families, individuals, cultures, and communities (by broadening representations of race, sexual orientation and gender identity, community memberships, etc.). 

  • Enhance resources that celebrate Francophone cultures in both minority settings and international communities.

  • Grow French-language programs in rural and urban settings in consideration of geographic and socio-economic barriers to access.


THEME 3: Strategies for recruitment and retention of FFWL BCTF members

  • Encourage the Teacher Regulation Branch and Teacher Qualification Service to facilitate the recognition of the training and experience of people from elsewhere, while offering professional development to clarify BCTF educational commitments.

  • Establish strategies to support school board human resources in working on cultural safety and accessibility in recruitment practices (e.g., give applicants the opportunity to talk about their experiences in relation to hiring needs, emphasize that people from linguistic minority backgrounds are both necessary and beneficial).

  • Emphasize the importance of programs and activities that develop a sense of belonging and security for new BCTF members.

  • Promote focused mentoring programs and offer paid internships for people from different communities to get work experience in a BC classroom setting before applying.


bottom of page