(École des Voyageurs photo)

Langley’s French elementary school sets the record straight to combat myths

The school is holding an open house for parents of kindergarten students.

École des Voyageurs, the French language public school in Walnut Grove, wants to dispel some myths that may be holding people back from signing up their children.

The school offers kindergarten to Grade 7 teaching in French. To help people better understand what the school has to offer, it is holding an open house at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

“We are often assumed to be a private school or a French Immersion school that falls under the Langley School District,” said Laura Grefford, president of the school’s parent advisory council. “What many don’t realize is that we are a public francophone school, but under School District #93, Conseil Scolaire Francophone, which has its own board of trustees and oversees all the public francophone schools in the province.”

École des Voyageurs, at 8736 216th St., is a public school. Its catchment area includes Langley Township, Langley City, as well as the eastern border of Surrey and the western border of Abbotsford.

School District #93 was founded in response to Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which covers the rights of Canadian citizens to have their child educated in the official language (English or French) that’s considered the minority language in the province.

But unlike public schools in the Langley School District (#35), there are eligibility criteria.

As French is considered the minority official language in British Columbia, at least one parent must satisfy Section 23’s definition of a “minority language right-holder” for their child to attend École des Voyageurs.

Their first language learned (and still understood) is French or they received their primary school instruction in French (excluding French Immersion).

“There are certainly several families with origins in Quebec, but many of our families consist of at least one parent from French communities in other parts of Canada such as Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick,” Grefford explained. “There are also families from francophone regions abroad such as France, Haïti, Egypt, and Lebanon.”

This is the time of year when people with children about to enter kindergarten are anxious about ensuring they have a spot at their program of choice, such as French Immersion.

Grefford invited parents to contact École des Voyageurs.

“Langley parents who believe they are considered a minority language right-holder are encouraged to contact École des Voyageurs to confirm their eligibility. Unlike French Immersion programs managed by the English school districts, there are no lotteries or wait lists to access public francophone schools in the province. As long as the parent is a right holder, their child is guaranteed enrolment,” she said.

The school has free school bus transportation for students, a private francophone preschool called Les Petits Voyageurs located on-site, and the new ‘Franc Départ’ centre (French version of ‘Strong Start’) located on-site.

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