Parents raise concerns over switch from French to Cree in some Regina public schools
Rosemont Community School in Regina is the latest elementary school to swap out core French for Cree, but some parents say they were never consulted and now their only option is to transfer schools.
“There are a lot of people who showed up on the first day of school and found out there’s no French and then they’re kind of left in this thing- ‘Well where do we transfer our kids part way through the year, what exactly do we do?'” parent Katie Boulanger said. “We’ve essentially been told if we don’t like it we need to leave.”
It’s a move made by Regina Public Schools to offer students Cree instead of core French as part of Indigenous studies. Currently, six elementary schools in the city have made the switch.
“What we’re hearing from parents and communities is to take advantage of the realities of our city- the reality of Treaty 4,” supervisor of communications for Regina Public Schools, Terry Lazarou said. “We’re all on Treaty 4 land and give students the options to learn about stuff that they haven’t had the chance to learn about before.”
According to the school board, core French is not a requirement in schools, although it admits parents were not given proper consultation.
“Is it an ideal situation? No it’s not, we always like to consult with parents but in this case we moved for the benefit of the school community,” Lazarou said. “We had the opportunity of making use of an exception Indigenous studies teacher and we moved very quickly on that to offer it for the 2018/ 2019 school year.”
But Boulanger is concerned her daughters will fall behind or lose their basic understanding of the French language, something she wants them to learn throughout their life.
“I’m worried that it’s going to delay them in the future if they decide to take french classes in high school or if anything happens and we end up moving or transferring to a different neighbourhood,” Boulanger said.
Even though French is an official language in Canada, according to Cree language instructor Darren Okemaysim, Cree is the most commonly spoken Indigenous language in the country.
Some schools in Saskatoon have also made the switch with four out of 20 elementary schools in the city offering Cree instead of core French.
Although there are currently no plans for other schools in Regina to do the same, Boulanger says students shouldn’t be limited.
“I think Indigenous studies is amazing and we are really lucky to have it in our curriculum and I almost think of it as a different subject, it shouldn’t be either or.”
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