Thursday, April 17, 2008

Keep EFI: Grand Falls to plead their case in Fredericton

How will English-speaking students affect Francophone children's education?
Marty Klinkenberg Telegraph-Journal
Published Thursday April 17th, 2008
Appeared on page A1

GRAND FALLS - It is New Brunswick's most bilingual community, and one of the most fluent in both official languages in all of Canada, and Grand Falls wears the distinction like a badge of honour.

Eighty-two percent of the residents switch seamlessly between French and English, and see their little city in the Upper St. John River Valley as a model of civility. There is no tension between Anglophones and Francophones here, or at least there wasn't until the government announced recently that it is eliminating early French immersion next fall.

"At first, when I heard early immersion was being dropped, I was shocked,'' said McClure, who works as a speech-language pathologist a short drive across the border in Van Buren, Me. "And then outrage set in.

"I think it is wonderful that kids here have the gift of bilingualism, and I'm sick of hearing the premier say that people who have had access to early French immersion are privileged and elitist.

"In Grand Falls, being able to speak French isn't a privilege, it is a necessity."
McClure is so angry about the Liberals' plan that she is petitioning the government to allow the John Caldwell School to retain its early immersion program. To that end, she other parents have collected more than 500 signatures, which will be turned over in the legislature today.

Michelle Rioux, the chairperson for the Caldwell School's Parental Support Committee. "I am more concerned for the children in the community as a whole.

"In a community like this, you realize the value of bilingualism. It is one of the things that gives our children a competitive edge, and gives our community its unique flavour."

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