Passing of a Prominent Figure in the History of Francophone Education in B.C.

Article from Parenthèse published on 1 May 2023, in the News category.

Martine Galibois-Barss, a pioneer of French-language education in British Columbia, passed away on March 21 at the age of 75.

Ms. Galibois-Barss worked for many years to establish Francophone school management in our province. Initially a parent volunteer involved in the establishment of l’école André-Piolat in North Vancouver, she became a board member and then president, from 1986 to 1996, of l’Association des parents francophones de Colombie-Britannique (which has since become la Fédération des parents francophones de Colombie-Britannique). She later served as a school trustee with the Conseil scolaire francophone de la C.-B. (CSF) from 1996 to 2005.

As President of the Fédération des parents, she was the driving force behind two legal actions brought in the 1990s against the B.C. government, seeking recognition of minority parents’ rights under section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These legal battles led to the creation of the CSF in 1995. Ms. Galibois-Barss was also one of the witnesses in the last legal case brought by the Fédération des parents and the CSF, which led to the historic win in favour of B.C. Francophones in the Supreme Court of Canada in June 2020.

After moving to Quebec, she continued to take a keen interest in the evolution of French-language education in our province, contacting the Fédération des parents regularly to hear news of our organization, and the CSF as well. She was also a loyal follower of our Facebook page, never missing an opportunity to express her joy at seeing the variety and quality of the programs and activities offered to parents of the province!


Eloquent testimonials

Marc Gignac, former Executive Director of the Fédération des parents francophones de C.-B., and Renée Popov Waters, former President of the CSF, paid tribute to this great lady of the Canadian Francophonie in an interview broadcast by Radio-Canada Colombie-Britannique.

According to Ms. Popov Waters, Ms. Galibois-Barss was an exceptional woman: “Without her, the CSF would not have seen the light of day! Martine was courageous and tenacious, she was not afraid of anything.”

For his part, Marc Gignac describes her as follows: “Martine was a hurricane, the spearhead of Francophone education in British Columbia. She was the one who cleared the way in the 1970s and led the long battle to get school management.”


Prestigious awards

Martine Galibois-Barss’s community involvement and dedication to the cause of French-language education, in British Columbia and across Canada, have earned her numerous honours, including the Ordre des francophones d'Amérique, which she was awarded in 1996.

More recently, in November 2019, the Commission nationale des parents francophones (CNPF) awarded her the Ghislaine-Pilon National Award, which recognizes the exceptional contribution of an individual or organization to the advancement of the cause of Francophone parents at the regional, provincial, or national level.

We had the pleasure and privilege of presenting this award on behalf of the CNPF on the occasion of our 2019 annual conference, in front of an audience of parents from across the province, as well as community partners, gathered to salute Martine Galibois-Barss’s immense contribution to the development of the French-language community in our province.


Ceremonies in tribute to Ms. Galibois-Barss

A celebration of Ms. Galibois-Barss’s life will be held in Quebec City on June 30, 2023. Those wishing to be present are invited to consult this web page.

There will also be a celebration of her life in Vancouver in the summer of 2023. To find out the date, time, and location of this event, please contact Ms. Lorraine Fortin at