Canadian Parents for French – Saskatchewan has lost an amazing advocate, devoted volunteer and dear friend to the organization. Alexander Sokalski passed away suddenly on Friday, April 22.
He was ratified as a Board Director of Canadian Parents for French – Saskatchewan in June 2010, and served as Secretary/Treasurer for most of his tenure.
Alex was a lifelong lover of the French language, which led to a career as an educator for over three decades. Alex pursued an Honours Degree in French from the University of British Columbia and a Ph.D. with a specialization in 18th century French literature from Yale University. He was a professor and lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan for over 30 years.
While he was on the Board, he continued to teach, and made several research trips to France. He met many esteemed and like-minded colleagues along the way. In 2012, he was asked to pen a piece to celebrate a friend and associate’s retirement – a document called a Festschrift. He graciously agreed to recount the story of this project for the Spring 2013 Canadian Parents for French – Saskatchewan newsletter. David Forbes, the Member of Legislative Assembly for Saskatoon Centre, stood up to speak to the legislature in Regina about this unique accomplishment. (link listed below.)
As a part of the Canadian Parents for French – Saskatchewan family, Alex was known for his kindness, willingness to assist with various events, Board duties, and programming. He had keen and unending dedication to promote the organization and its mandate.
In the fall of 2014, he was the recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award. At the Chapter Planning Meeting and Annual General Meeting, Karen Pozniak, Executive Director of Canadian Parents for French – Saskatchewan spoke with beaming pride about the Alex’s many contributions.
Not only as an Executive Member, but as a Director, he stepped forward constantly to take on additional responsibilities. He took his role on the Board very seriously, was always engaged and participated with absolute integrity. As part of the Media Committee, he frequently made himself available for interviews in both official languages, and lent his expertise in the French language by providing translation on occasion. To help fulfill his passion for supporting post-secondary endeavours for French-second-language students, he also sat on the Advisory Committee to the Institut français (now La cité universitaire Francophone) and the Deputy Minister’s Working Group on Post-Secondary French Language Education. He also gladly volunteered as a judge for Concours d’art oratoire, Canadian Parents for French’s speech contest.
The celebration of Alex’s life took place on May 14, 2016 in Saskatoon. Many friends, family members and colleagues gathered to remember this wonderful man. He has left behind a legacy of kindness, generosity, a passion for languages and research, and many people who cared about and respected him greatly. Vous nous manquez, Alex.