On Friday, August 9, Canadian Parents for French – Saskatchewan formally celebrated its 40th anniversary by holding the President’s Reception. More than 50 people gathered together for an evening of music, food and camaraderie. The mood was light and friendly, the hors d’oeuvres were plentiful and delicious, the beverages were refreshing, and the crowd mixed and mingled and shared stories. What a lovely evening it turned out to be!
During the short program, Janet Loseth, the incoming Branch Board President, welcomed the guests by saying, “It is my great pleasure to welcome all of you here this evening. We, at Canadian Parents for French – Saskatchewan, are immensely pleased to see so many people here. There are representatives from government attending; from our Francophone partners; there are former staff here, and current and former members. Hélène Grimard, our Volunteer of the Year for 2018-2019 is here. For a period of time which spans 36 years, Hélène has volunteered to be a judge at the Provincial Final of Concours d’art oratoire. She is a shining example of our greatly appreciated volunteers.
We would never have gotten to this milestone, the 40th anniversary, without the Hélène’s of this world … the many, many, many dedicated volunteers, staff, partners, supporters, funders, who helped to get us to this day. Then there have been the thousands upon thousands of French-second-language students, and hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of parents of these French-second-language students who together have benefitted from the resources provided and programs organized by this Branch.”
She continued by adding, “For 40 years, Canadian Parents for French – Saskatchewan has been an informed and passionate advocate for all who value Canada’s official bilingualism. The organization has used solid research to educate the population-at-large about the value of bilingualism within the multilingual and multicultural tapestry that is Canada.”
With two members of the National Board of Directors in attendance, Derrek Bentley (Vice-President) and Richard Slevinsky (Director), the National level of the organization was well represented. When Derrek Bentley brought greetings on behalf of Canadian Parents for French, he spoke to the value he experienced in his own life to having been a French immersion student who now can thrive in both of Canada’s official languages. He embodies the goals and aspirations of the French-Second-Language Programs.
Because the Members of the Legislative Assembly for the Government of Saskatchewan were at a caucus retreat, no one could attend in person. However, the Honourable Gordon Wyant, Deputy Premier, Minister of Education and Member of the Legislative Assembly for Saskatoon Northwest, prepared a letter which Ms. Loseth read out to the crowd. In part, Minister Wyant’s comments included the following passage:
“After four decades, CPF – Saskatchewan can proudly assert that they have done an outstanding job in supporting our students and citizens as they learn the French language.
As Deputy Premier and Minister of Education, I am very pleased to see the emergent opportunities provided to our children as they experience the freedom to access varying cultures through acquired knowledge and use of different languages, such as French. The efforts of CPF – Saskatchewan truly do help to bring a positive change to our communities as we come together to broaden our linguistic opportunities. I would like to applaud you for your on-going and dedicated work in supporting the French language in our great province, and Canada as a whole.
Best wishes for a fun and exciting event, and congratulations on 40 years of excellence.”
Greetings were brought forward by Kelly Block, from the Conservative Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Carlton Trail – Eagle Creek, and Sheri Benson, from Canada’s New Democratic Party and Member of Parliament for Saskatoon West. Both spoke to the contributions made by CPF-SK and the role the organization played in fostering support for official bilingualism. Ms. Benson presented Ms. Loseth with a framed certificate commemorating the 40th anniversary.
Greetings were also brought forward by Denis Simard, the President of the Board of Directors of l’Assemblée communautaire fransaskoise. In his remarks, he said (in part): “Canadian Parents for French has played one of the most significant roles in changing attitudes, influencing decision makers and molding public opinion facing our bilingualism. With this year being the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act we have seen that across the country public opinion largely supports linguistic duality. We have noticed that this trend is especially strong with the younger segments of the population. French immersion programs and Canadian Parents for French have both been paramount in making that happen and giving Canadian society a healthy boost of tolerance, not only toward the French language and culture but toward other languages and cultures as well as making Canada a much more open and welcoming society.
I would like to quickly speak to those parents who have made the brave choice to educate their sons and daughters in French despite themselves not speaking the language, I applaud you, I admire your courage and I am humbled that our society contains generations of people who seek to better the fate of their young by providing them every opportunity they can. …
Having seen the demand for French immersion programs double over the past decade in Saskatchewan, tonight is an opportunity to celebrate not only the resounding success of your organization and leadership but maybe more importantly the indelible and transformative impact you have had and continue to have on our Canadian society.”
After the program concluded, guests stayed and continued to enjoy the musical stylings of Crestwood, the food and the company.