French for the Future Local Forums considered a “phenomenal success”
CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI – March 2, 2012 – The coordinator of the two French for the Future Local Forums, held this week in the Empire Theatres in Charlottetown and Summerside, considers these two career exploration fairs to have been “phenomenal successes”.
In fact, Sylvie De Sousa notes that all the organizing partners, the kiosk attendants, the guest speakers, the career presenters and the teachers indicated these two days had been extremely worthwhile for them as well as for the target audience.
First of all, the main participants – approximately 515 Grade 9 students enrolled in French first-language and French immersion programs throughout the Island – received a general overview of the countless careers available in various sectors, including health, education, tourism, media, justice, public service and information technology.
“Secondly, the forums proved to the youth the enormous value and advantage of bilingualism in obtaining a career in these sectors,” said De Sousa. “In fact, the global objective of the day was to encourage these youth to pursue their high school and postsecondary studies in French so that they can one day access a French or bilingual career here on PEI.”
The event’s motivational speaker, Island Olympic athlete Kara Grant, spoke with passion about the value of her second language. She noted her French provided her with golden opportunities to do sports training in Quebec and France, to teach school, to work for Parks Canada and to enjoy all kinds of amazing experiences that she would never have had if she spoke only English.
“Learning French is like a huge door that opens other doors for you,” both professionally and personally, said Grant. She sincerely encouraged the youth to continue learning French.
The youth participated actively in the day, asking lots of questions while chatting with the information kiosk attendants and during career presentations, said the coordinator. She added the students seemed quite impressed when hearing about the financial and personal advantages that a bilingual career could provide them.
In his welcome speech, Aubrey Cormier, assistant deputy minister of the Acadian and Francophone Affairs Secretariat of PEI, urged the youth to serve as ambassadors for the French language. “I encourage you to take advantage of all the opportunities that will be presented to you to speak French. The more you master it, the more likely you are to get the whole province to benefit from your knowledge.”
French is also an added value for the provincial economy, he said. “It helps PEI to be more economically competitive on a world-wide basis.” And of course, it helps people to access bilingual positions in both the federal and provincial civil service.
Cormier said PEI, at 13 per cent, is the province with the third highest bilingualism rate in Canada, behind Quebec and New Brunswick.
“The number of Francophones in our province has kept increasing for several years now. In 1981, PEI had about 10,000 people who spoke French, either as a first or second language. Now, we estimate the number of bilingual Islanders at more than 18,000 people,” he pointed out.
“In fact, according to Bloomberg, the huge financial firm that does business around the world, French is the business language that is the most useful in the world, after English and Mandarin, one of the main languages spoken in China. With more than 68 million people speaking French in 27 countries who generate $4,000 billion in gross domestic products, the future of French as a business language, as far as we can see, is very promising.”
The local forums were organized jointly by French for the Future, Canadian Parents for French PEI, the province’s three school boards, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, the University of PEI and RDÉE Prince Edward Island.
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and several local sponsors helped French for the Future to cover the day’s costs.
CUTLINE 1: Youth attending the French for the Future Local Forum in Summerside Thursday got a chance to participate in several career information sessions. At the session covering the health sector are, from left, Bryanna LeClair and Nathaniel Cassidy, students from Kensington Intermediate Senior High, with presenters Mélanie Gallant, a teacher in nursing care at the Collège Acadie Î.-P.-É.; Louise Bossé, nurse at Prince County Hospital; and Patricia Richard, assistant director at the Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Î.-P.-É.
CUTLINE 2: During a short break at the French for the Future Local Forum in Summerside Thursday are, from left, student Mikailla MacDonald from Summerside Intermediate School, coordinator Sylvie De Sousa, Olympian guest speaker Kara Grant, and student Brooke MacArthur, also from SIS.
For more information:
Sylvie De Sousa
Local Forum Coordinator – PEI
(902) 659 2783