Canadian Parents for French-Nova Scotia has had an excellent year!
In keeping with our mandate to create and promote opportunities for youth to learn and to use French as an official language, the core activities that we provide for students have continued to be our most well-recognized events. Our camps, of course, are a summer highlight: this year, we offered week-long activities all in French through a variety of possibilities from our Camp du Soleil day camp for early elementary students to outdoor adventures for older high school students. Summer was a very busy time for us, yes, but we provide engaging and informative activities in every season of our year.
In February 2019, we welcomed new schools and more students than ever to our Bilingual Career Exploration Day, co-hosted with Saint Mary’s University.
Our Nova Scotia students, whether they are in immersion or another French Second Language program, can benefit from as many opportunities as possible to practice their French, in formal as well as less formal settings. Our annual Concours d’art oratoire provides a forum for formal speaking : we hosted participants in all categories from Grade 5 through 12, and it was my great honor to be able to observe the national concours in Ottawa in early June 2019, where our very own Grade 11 and 12 winners were competing along with forty or so others from all over Canada.
Students’ speaking skills are important, absolutely, but also their listening skills and their cultural awareness. With this in mind, we made possible several tours of the musical group Razzmattazz to elementary schools around the province, fall and spring. We facilitated showings of French-language movies in December, March, and April, in venues all over Nova Scotia, including several new venues, welcoming new participating schools.
Canadian Parents for French, Nova Scotia could not accomplish all that we do without the support of our chapters and our members. Our gratitude to our Halifax Peninsula and Mainland South chapter who have continued to take such attentive care of their area, carrying on their steady and efficient contribution, from manning information kiosks to presenting bursaries to outstanding graduating FSL students. Kudos to our Sydney chapter for their tireless efforts to provide their annual camp for FSL students at the end of June. It was my pleasure to be able to visit this chapter in May 2019 and to see first-hand their finely-tuned approach to camp organization and to succession planning for their chapter executive. Congratulations as well to our Port Hawkesbury chapter for another successful end-of-June camp. The Port Hawkesbury executive was very interested in the idea of a Bilingual Career Exploration Day in their area, and as a result, we plan to expand this popular event, offering a career day to high school students within travel distance of Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre in November 2019.
We have a large number of Associate Member Organizations, many of which are schools that have participated in our events. This year, we have continued our outreach to teachers with the launch of an e-bulletin created specifically for them and their needs. We reached out in particular to Core French teachers, attending their conference day in October 2018 to distribute CPF information and to listen closely to their feedback on which of our programs could most support their students.
Networking has helped Canadian Parents for French, Nova Scotia widen its reach and enhance its programs. Interprovincially, I travelled to Charlottetown in May to attend the Annual General Meeting of CPF PEI. This was not only a pleasant courtesy visit, but also an opportunity to gather new ideas about interesting projects and ways of doing things. CPF-Newfoundland and Labrador paid us a visit in June 2019 to attend our board and staff retreat and to share ideas and challenges. Provincially, we continue to enjoy partnerships with a number of organizations, among them Alliance Française Halifax: this year, Rebecca and I helped them celebrate their 115th year in Halifax and we attended and supported several other of their events. For their part, Alliance Française provided us with volunteer judges for our Concours d’art oratoire. On the national stage, CPF Nova Scotia was at the table for discussions on the modernization of the Official Languages Act in March; in April our branch was ably represented in Ottawa by two staff and two board members at the FSL Awareness Breakfast for MPs, Senators, and stakeholders.
As an organization, Canadian Parents for French, Nova Scotia is a strong branch. Hats off to our hard-working staff: Rebecca, Stacy, and Luke- our new Chapter Outreach Officer: they are our front line, they do our heavy lifting, they keep our train on the track – we owe them a huge thank you. And we have a strong board: our board members have been fully involved in discussions and decisions over the year and have donated their time and talents to our activities whenever their own schedules allowed. This year, we held two retreats: a mini-retreat in November and a full-day in June, each time adding to our branch knowledge and capacity.
A very good year, indeed. Looking ahead, we are focusing our attention on expanding our core events to reach even more students, on supporting and showcasing the hard work being done by our chapters and volunteers, and on staying open and creative to new ways to support member parents, AMO schools, and teachers working in FSL classrooms. I am looking forward to my second and final year as President, working with our CPF-NS team and with our partners as we translate our mandate into action.