Saskatoon Public Schools is projected to hire more French immersion teachers at the start of the school year due to enrolment numbers, according to one of its superintendents.
“We anticipate that we will likely still need three to maybe four French immersion teachers,” said Jaime Valentine, the Saskatoon Public School superintendent of human resources.
“We have applicants that we believe will be suitable for those positions.”
While the jobs will likely be filled, Valentine said an increase in French immersion enrolment has made the hiring process harder. Around 2,260 students took part in the program in 2015 compared to about 1,500 students in 2011.
“The numbers have certainly created some pressures, I mean it becomes a supply and demand issue,” Valentine said. He added that the division has been forced to look outside the province for potential employees.
“The last five years, we’ve been recruiting largely from the Atlantic provinces.”
Both Catholic and public school divisions were also looking for teachers proficient in Cree this summer. Edie Venne, a Cree language instructor at the University of Saskatchewan, said her graduates are in high demand.
“We don’t have very many speakers, so anyone who can speak and teach a language is scooped up,” said Venne, who instructs in the Indian Teacher Education Program.
“There’s this big push from truth and reconciliation for us to bring our languages back and I think that people are responding by offering more classes.”
Venne said she expects the demand for Cree language teachers to continue to rise. As for French immersion, Valentine offers this first lesson, for aspiring teachers.
“A teacher with a French language proficiency certificate, from either the University of Saskatchewan or University of Regina, is going to have a much better chance of landing a teaching position,” she said.
“If they’ve taken French immersion either in elementary or high school, brush it off a little bit.”