B.C.’s French immersion program began with a single class in Coquitlam in 1968. It expanded to other districts — Victoria, Surrey, Vancouver, Burnaby and elsewhere — over the next decade. In its growth, French immersion has reached future lawyers, musicians, Olympians, and of course, more French teachers!
From a class of roughly 20 students to a wave of over 53,000 today, French immersion in the West has been nurtured by thousands of devoted parents through CPF BC & Yukon, along with dedicated partners’ support.
We celebrated French Immersion Celebration Week this year with the B.C. Ministry of Education and the Coquitlam School District, the place where it all began. Read more here.
The B.C. branch of Canadian Parents for French began advocating for widespread French language teaching in 1978, 10 years after the first program opened in Coquitlam.
At first, it was up to parents and teachers to cobble together and even write educational books for their children and students. CPF BC & Yukon helped share those resources between districts and brought together the many strong voices for bilingualism that bringing change across the West.
In 2015 we reached out to many of those dedicated volunteers to learn about the early days of French — the unique ways they advocated, school boards’ resistance (or enthusiasm!) and their underlying motivations for wanting to gift their children the benefits of bilingualism.
Find those stories in CPF BC & Yukon’s Legacy Stories.
CPF BC & Yukon and CPF Alberta launched Where Are They Now? in 2015 to check in with French immersion graduates from Western Canada and to see how their French has impacted their adult lives. We heard some love stories, some career stories, and saw some examples of the many ways in which French has helped these past students.
Though we only got to interview 25 graduates with Radio-Canada, we heard from nearly 400 and we know that there are thousands spread out across the world, reaping the benefits of bilingualism.
French Immersion Enrolment in B.C.
Interest in French immersion has been growing for over 15 years straight! Demand is so high in many districts that parents are forced to camp outside their school district offices on the eve of registration day, just to ensure that their child can have a spot in the coveted program.
Source: B.C. Ministry of Education