Nearly 240 years ago, Ontario’s very first French-language school, a Catholic institution, welcomed its first students in Sandwich, next to Windsor.
Ontario’s eight French-language Catholic school boards celebrated their 25th anniversary
Third provincial symposium
The third provincial Symposium took place in Toronto, November 14 and 15, bringing together the Francophone and Anglophone Catholic school community. During the Symposium, for which the theme was “Renewing the Promise”, the French-language Catholic community launched the Cadre de référence de l’éducation catholique de langue française (French-language Catholic Education Framework), which includes the student’s profile, the teacher’s profile and the French-language Catholic schools’ profile.
The 8 French-language Catholic school boards celebrated their 20th anniversary.
French-Language Catholic Education in Ontario Conference
The first ever French-Language Catholic Education Conference was held in in Sudbury, on April 19 and 20. The theme of this major gathering was “Mène-moi à ma mission” (Lead Me to My Mission), as the stage was set to celebrate French-language Catholic education and to acknowledge its contribution to the province of Ontario. It also provided the delegates with opportunities for resourcing, networking, training and dialogue.
Cadre de référence de l’élève catholique
On May 7, 2014, the Cadre de référence de l’élève catholique (Catholic School Graduate Expectations) was officially launched in Toronto during the first ever Catholic Student Symposium “Vous serez mes témoins” (You shall be my witnesses). This document will further guide French-language Catholic Education in Ontario.
The Second Symposium
The second French-language Catholic schools in Ontario Symposium took place in Toronto. Its main goal was to come up with recommendations that would guide French-language Catholic education in the years to come.
Its theme was “Enfants de Dieu, citoyens du monde, toute une différence” (Children of God, Citizens of the World, Quite a Difference.)
Its objective was to define and showcase the contribution of the French-language Catholic schools to the province of Ontario. It resulted insome ten recommendations related to the mission and the four scopes of responsibilities. These recommendations were retained to better inform the people of Ontario of the specific nature of French-language Catholic schools through knowledge in order for their contribution to be further understood and recognized.
The Proceedings were published in 2012.
The French-language Catholic Schools’ Mission
The document Mission – L’école catholique de langue française en Ontario (Mission – French-Language Catholic Schools in Ontario) was published for all the members of the French-language Catholic Schools in Ontario.
It was officially launched as a reference document for our Catholic schools. It identified four distinct scopes of responsibilities for our schools to assume in order to attain their mission within our society:
- Teaching of the various school subjects;
- School’s relational climate;
- Religious education;
- Pastoral leadership.
The First Symposium
The first Ontario French Catholic Education Symposium was held in Ottawa. The Symposium’s main goal was to define the mission of Catholic schools within the Ontario Francophone community.
The Symposium Proceedings were published.
START OF SCHOOL OPERATIONS
Following the creation of the French-language Catholic school boards in Ontario, new features were implemented as early as September 1998 to officialize L’École catholique’s first school year.
CREATION OF AFOCSC
The Association franco-ontarienne des conseils scolaires catholiques was founded at the same time as the French-language Catholic school boards to promote the value of a French-language Catholic education.
Creation of district school boards
French-language district school boards are created (8 French Catholic and 4 French public boards).
Francophones obtain the right to manage their own school boards and receive fair funding.
Inauguration of French-language colleges
Collège des Grands-Lacs and Collège Boréal were inaugurated.
Creation of a task force to the review the reduction of school boards in Ontario (Sweeney Report).
Dissolution of the Conseil scolaire de langue française d’Ottawa-Carleton
The Report of the Royal Commission on Learning recommends that the Conseil scolaire de langue française d’Ottawa-Carleton be dissolved and replaced by the Conseil des écoles publiques d’Ottawa-Carleton and the Conseil des écoles catholiques de langue française de la région d’Ottawa-Carleton.
Regulation 297 recognizes that religious education is a teachable didactic subject.
Conseil des écoles séparées de langue française de Prescott-Russell
Agreement on the creation of the Conseil des écoles séparées de langue française de Prescott-Russell.
Establishment of two distinct Catholic boards
On July 3, an agreement is reached with the CESC de Prescott-Russell for the establishment of two distinct Catholic boards as early as January 1992: the French Catholic board counts 10,500 students and the English Catholic board has 500 students.
Cousineau Committee Report
Report of the advisory group on the management of French language education.
Bill 64 comes into effect on January 1, 1990, allowing Catholic boards partial access to commercial, industrial and corporate taxes
The Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous judgment in the Mahé case confirms that Article 23 of the Charter provides to Francophones the right to administer and control their education outside of Québec and this, in an environment that nurtures the linguistic minority’s culture and ensures its preservation and financing through public funding. It is clear that the model established by Bill 75 is a minimum standard and, at the other end of the scale, there are the French-language boards. It is in the light of the Mahé decision that AFOCEC determines that the ideal situation is to have a Catholic French-language board with full funding, leaving the various regions to define their own appropriate model.
The Cousineau Committee
On November 14, the new New Democratic Party (NDP) government announces the creation of the French-Language Education Management Advisory Group. The Cousineau Committee presented its report on September 3, 1991.
Law 12, enacted on December 20, 1990, gives Francophones a representation based on student population. It also gives the Lieutenant Governor in Council the responsibility to make regulations for the establishment of French-Language boards up to January 1, 1994. This means that the full rights of Francophone Catholics are not enshrined in legislation.
Section 23 and school governance
In the wake of the Mahé affair, Section 23 of the Charter recognizes various management and control methods for minority official language educational institutions, based on the number of students.
In the midst of this evolving reality
In the midst of this evolving reality, Ontario’s Catholic bishops were asking all our partners in education to consider this promising situation. It provided us with the opportunity we needed to reflect on these questions and it allowed us to understand the present and contemplate the future.
Less than two decades later, the coming of the Internet and the blooming of the information era were redefining societies and relations worldwide. Once more, we had to find the required courage to consider this period to be a promising situation allowing us to revamp the Catholic education’s mission statement.
Ottawa-Carleton French Language School Board
January 1989 marks the creation of the Conseil scolaire de langue française d’Ottawa-Carleton which includes two sections, one Catholic and the other public.
Adoption of Bill 125
Bill 125 adopted on June 1, 1988 infringes on the rights of French-language Catholic voters. The result of the census completed before the adoption of the law reduced the number of Francophone trustees on several boards and reversed the Francophone majority in six Catholic school boards. Francophones challenge the constitutionality of the census and the new representation which is based on the number of rights holders. On the eve of the 1988 school board election, an order granting a double majority vote is granted to trustees in six boards.
The 1988 Draft Bill 125 to amend the Education Act proposes that the number of Francophone commissioners be proportional to the number of electors holding minority language education rights.
Conseil des écoles françaises de la communauté urbaine de Toronto
The Conseil des écoles françaises de la communauté urbaine de Toronto is created on December 1, 1988 through Draft Bill 75 amendments to the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.
In the Marchand case ruling, Judge Sirois decreed that the quality of education of the minority should be equal to the quality of education offered to the majority.
Full Funding of Catholic Education in High Schools
The 1986 Act to amend the Education Act (the former Draft Bill 30) aims to implement full funding for Catholic Separate high schools.
Draft Bill 17
Draft Bill 17 proposes that Franco-Ontarians should gain the right to be represented in each school board by a French–language section with exclusive competency over French–language teaching modules.
Bill 30 is adopted on June 23, 1986 by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Public schools’ exclusive access to revenues stemming from commercial, industrial and corporate taxes perpetuates a blatant injustice towards the Catholic system, and prevents the full realization of the Catholic system’s completion as permitted by the Davis government.
Bill 75 enacted on October 1, 1986 entitles voters to elect Francophone Catholic trustees and ensures, by extension, the administration of Franco-Ontarian education by Francophones.
Bill 8 (French Language Services Act)
Bill 8 (French Language Services Act) receives unanimous approval by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on November 18, 1986. The Act has the effect of strengthening existing policies in a legislative framework to guarantee the right of a citizen to receive French-language provincial government services in designated areas.
Constitutionality of Bill 30
The Government of Ontario refers Draft Bill 30 to the Ontario Court of Appeals to confirm the constitutionality of the law. The court deems the law to be constitutional.
The Marchand Case
The Marchand Case decision compels school boards to apply Bill 122 and build schools for Francophones.
Funding of Catholic High Schools
Premier William Davis announces funding to Catholic high schools, which means the completion of the Catholic school system. There is a positive reaction from the Catholic community in light of the impending equal rights to equitable funding. However, this can only be achieved if spending, above projected ceilings, is offset by evaluation and not by government subsidies.
Law 119 states that all Francophone students have the right to be educated in their own language.
Full funding: new perspectives and directions
After full funding was obtained thanks to the completion, Catholic school boards had to take the new perspectives and directions into account. This situation led the Catholic schools community to a further and deeper thought process on our common Catholic identity and our increasing responsibilities toward the public opinion as to the curriculum that was being offered within our schools.
The changes that were having a social impact, such as globalization and technology, were also starting to redefine our students’ learning experience. Furthermore, the vision put forth by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) kept requiring that the Church find new ways of bearing witness to the Gospel and to our faith in a world that was more and more fragmented and secularized.*.
Secularity is the state of a religious person who tends to be excluded from the common public and social world. Religion has thus become a phenomenon outside public life, therefore a private phenomenon.
Number of children required before French-language education can be provided
The Ontario referral on Education to the Ontario Court of Appeals strikes the provisions of the Education Act granting school boards discretionary powers to set the number of enrolled children required before French–language education can be provided.
Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees constitutional protection of the following elementary and secondary school minority language educational rights:
- The right to classes and schools where teaching is in the language of the minority
- The right to administer these institutions
The qualified layperson’s role
The religious communities no longer represented the face of the province’s Catholic schools. From then on, the role of leader was to be assumed by qualified laypersons who had received professional training.
Recommendation No. 8 of the Mayo Report
Recommendation No. 8 of the Mayo Report (Ottawa) states that a homogeneous French school board be established for the entire region of Ottawa, that includes all children from kindergarten to the completion of secondary school and be, above all, denominational (Catholic). Later, according to the wishes of the board, non-denominational or public sector can be created.
Commission of language rights in education
On February 17, the Symons Commission recommends the establishment of a Commission of language rights in education. This commission should play a mediating role, but is not empowered to make decisions. School crises continue.
Symons Ministerial Commission
After Sturgeon Falls, other school crises follow. The Symons Ministerial Commission is created to study the issue.
Merger and election
The merger of several Catholic school boards and the right to elect school trustees.
Publication of the Bériault Report
Bill 121 provides for the creation of schools or classes within elementary schools to ensure that Francophone students are taught in French, consequent to applications by at least 10 Francophone rate-payers of public or separate school boards.
Bill 122 enables public funding of French–language public secondary schools, but not separate Roman Catholic schools.
French language advisory committees are set up in public school boards.
Relationship between Franco-Ontarians and their school system
Ontario Premier John Robarts denounces the fact that too many Franco-Ontarian youth drop out before completing their secondary school education and asks the Minister of Education to look into the relationship between Franco-Ontarians and their school system.
History and Geography in French for grades 11 and 12
Public high schools can offer history and geography in French in grades 11 and 12, if the school board allows it.
Courses offered in French in Grades 9 and 10
The Honourable John Robarts, Premier of Ontario, announces a new financing strategy for schools known as the “Ontario Foundation Tax Plan”.
All subjects can be taught in French in grades 9 and 10, at the discretion of the school principal.
Private French-language schools
There are 58 private French-Language schools in the province. By 1966, only six remain.
The status of French-language education is inadequate
The Royal Commission on Education in Ontario finds that the status of French-language education is inadequate and that remedying the situation is necessary.
End of Regulation 17
Regulation 17 is struck from Ontario Statutes.
Non-existance of French secondary schools
In the 1940’s, most Francophone students left school at the end of their elementary studies, because there is no French-language secondary school, except in certain areas where Francophones are represented in a strong majority.
At the secondary level, the Francophone population can only receive a secondary education within a private school. The first one is created in Ottawa in 1845. Separate school boards may, by law, offer courses for Franco-Ontarians up to Grade 10. However, for grades 11 and 12, the only option is a private school or an English-Language public high school. Classes in grades 9 and 10 for separate boards only receive grants equivalent to elementary school funding, which are lower than those given to English public secondary schools.
In the first instance, parents are subject to a double taxation: their taxes are directed to the public sector, but they have to pay extra to ensure their children are educated in French. In the second situation, it is assimilation.
Funding of Catholic Schools
Premier Hepburn states that he will not pass contentious legislation to fund Catholic schools, but that the burden of its financing will be offset through government subsidies to all Ontario schools.
Revocation of the Assessment Act
The implementation of the Separate school Bill is not well received by Catholics or Protestants. On May 24, 1937, the Assessment Act is hereby revoked with Hepburn’s promise to grant equitable funding in the near future.
Separate School Bill
The Government adopts the Hepburn Act or Separate School Bill which gives Catholics limited access to revenues stemming from corporate income taxes.
Catholic Taxpayers’ Association
The Catholic Taxpayers’ Association hailing from Central Ontario is created in response to the frustrations experienced by school trustees and Catholic taxpayers who feel their rights are being violated. Parishes exert pressure demanding fair access to revenues stemming from corporate income taxes.
The Grand Charter circular
The Grand Charter circular becomes the first curriculum specifically prepared for French-language schools.
The Scott-Marchand-Côté Commission report
The Scott-Marchand-Côté Commission report recommends that both French and English languages should receive equal consideration and should be used on an equal footing in elementary school teaching and communication. The report also recommends that school inspectors should be bilingual and, in French-language schools, of Francophone origin.
Regulation 17 requires that English is to be the only language of instruction and communication in bilingual, public and separate schools after Grade 2.
Circular No. 17 – Management of Bilingual Separate Schools
Circular of Instruction (Regulation) No. 17 for Ontario Separate (bilingual) Schools is adopted by ministerial order in June 1912. The Regulation is amended in August 1913 and becomes law in April 1915.
Ontario prohibits separate schools from teaching beyond Grade 10
The province of Ontario prohibits separate schools from teaching beyond Grade 10, simultaneously restricting their sources of funding. The decision is subsequently ratified by the Privy Council’s Judicial Committee (London, 1926).
English is to be used in teaching
Until 1885, in Prescott and Russell and in south-western Ontario, the French public school system gradually transforms into separate schools, which seem better able to welcome the French-speaking population and allow it to continue learning in French, even when it is prohibited.
The Public Education Ministry decrees that English is to be used in teaching and converts French-language schools into English-French bilingual schools.
The Education Act is passed, setting the characteristics of the educational system and making schools free, and attendance compulsory.
Religious rights are enshrined in the Constitution Act.
Premier John Sandfield MacDonald passed the Scott Act
Prime Minister John Sandfield MacDonald passed the Scott Act entitling Catholics to withdraw their school taxes from public schools to establish their own schools, raise their own school taxes and receive government subsidies.
The first secondary school
The first secondary school was founded in Ottawa in 1845.
Law to protect the right to education for the Catholic minority
United Canada passes a law to protect the right to education for the Protestant minority in Canada-East (Québec) and the Catholic minority in Canada-West (Ontario). These are the so-called “separate” schools.
The law creating “Common Schools” requires Francophones to leave Catholic schools in order to attend public schools.
The government plans to create “grammar schools” in each of the eight districts of Upper Canada.
200,000 hectares for school purposes
The Government of Upper Canada (Ontario) reserves 200,000 hectares for school purposes.
The first French-language Catholic school
The first French-language Catholic school established within the current boundaries of Ontario opens in Sandwich, near Windsor, run by Notre-Dame de l’Assomption parish priest François-Xavier Dufaux.