In 2017, several Francophone families living in Kimberley – a municipality nestled between the Rockies and the Purcell Mountains in British Columbia – and in nearby Cranbrook, wanted access to education in French for their children.
Initially, the project was led by Marie Nairn (a mother originally from Quebec who settled in Kimberley), on behalf of about ten families who wanted a Francophone school to open in their community. Unfortunately, this initial project didn’t reach completion, due to several factors including the challenges of finding a site for the school.
Then, in June 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada's decision on the right to education in French in British Columbia – which, as you may recall, ruled in favour of the Conseil scolaire francophone de la C.-B. (CSF) and the Fédération des parents francophones – rekindled the enthusiasm of the parents in Kimberley, giving them the energy they needed for a new attempt!
In the fall of 2020, Marie-Christine Cadieux (a native of Montreal and now a resident of Kimberley) joined the other Francophone parents in the community. Inspired by the documents that had been sent to the CSF in 2017, she developed and submitted a new application which, this time, was accepted by the CSF Board of Trustees in December 2020.
Over the next nine months, the CSF teams collaborated with the group of parents to finally achieve the long-awaited result: the opening, in September 2021, of the Kimberley Francophone school (whose official name will be determined following a consultation with the school community).
Located a few kilometres outside the city, the new school shares a building with an English-language early childhood centre. The Francophone students have access to an outdoor classroom, a large schoolyard, and a wooded area with trails, which allow them to enjoy the surrounding natural environment.
Since the school opened, seven children from kindergarten to Grade 3 have been in attendance, accompanied by a teacher and a principal. It is a lively place!
Actively supported by the students’ parents, who, incidentally, have just set up their school parents’ association (APÉ), the little school is a bit like a big family. By all accounts, it's very exciting to be part of it, and to share such a strong sense of belonging and bonding in French.
The APÉ is grateful to the parents who believed in the project from the beginning, for their trust and commitment, as well as to the CSF teams who made the project a reality. It also thanks the Fédération des parents francophones for its support during the months preceding the founding of their association.
The Francophone families in Kimberley are very proud of their children, who are pioneers – the very first students of a small school destined to grow, develop, and bring French to life in this beautiful region of the province!