Save Saint-Jean: An urgent call to action to mobilize the community

EDMONTON, MAY 13, 2020

– As a result of recent decisions made by the Government of Alberta, the University of Alberta’s Campus Saint-Jean is in an extremely precarious financial situation that could jeopardize the very existence of the only post-secondary French language institution in western Canada.

If Campus Saint-Jean cannot access reserve funds and does not obtain adequate funding from the Alberta Grant Campus or federal emergency assistance, the institution will be forced to cut 44 % of its course offerings for the 2020-2021 school year. This would represent a reduction of 180 courses out of a possible 409. For a small institution, this represents a significant loss of programs for the ongoing development and vitality of the Francophone community.

« This situation is completely unacceptable! In recent months, the ACFA has initiated and participated in an increased number of meetings to find a solution that allows Campus Saint-Jean to maintain its current course offerings. Several solutions have been brought forward to various levels of government.

More now that ever, we need to recognize the key role played by Campus Saint-Jean in Alberta, and beyond. Campus Saint-Jean also plays an important role in both western and northern Canada. There is an urgent need to act and I invite you to take part in large numbers in the mobilization campaign called Save Saint-Jean ! » Sheila Risbud, President of ACFA


The ACFA has developed a new section on its website to share more information about the situation and the campaign; visit: Here are three ways you can take part of this mobilization campaign:

1. Write to the Premier of Alberta and the Minister of Advanced Education

Use the letter template provided and add a personalized paragraph to share your Campus Saint-Jean experience. Share the significance of the institution in your life/career. With just a few clicks, send your letter!

2. Share on social media

ACFA in collaboration with Francophonie jeunesse de l’Alberta (FJA) has developed many social media visuals to help you spread the word and engage politicians on this important issue.

3. Attend virtual townhall meetings

In collaboration with the Alberta branch of Canadian Parents for French, virtual townhall meetings will take place in the coming weeks in both French and English. These townhall meetings will allow you further understand the current situation at Campus Saint-Jean as well as share their wishes for their French-language postsecondary institution to continue to thrive. You can register now!

« Campus Saint-Jean is the only post-secondary institution that offers programs in French for youth in western Canada. If we cut Campus Saint-Jean programs, where will these young people study? The Campus is an integral part of our community and contributes to its vitality. Having several programs offered in French makes it possible to train bilingual professionals to work in the community. As Canadians, we must support learning in both official languages. I therefore invite all youth to join this campaign and to share the campaign on social media. Our present and our future is at stake! » Sympa César, President of Francophonie jeunesse de l’Alberta (FJA)

« At Canadian Parents for French, we envision a Canada where French- and English-speakers live together in mutual respect with an understanding and appreciation of each other’s language and culture and where linguistic duality forms an integral part of society.  Campus Saint-Jean is integral part of both our Mission and our Vision.  It is the vehicle and venue which allows Alberta’s French second language graduates to further stimulate their bilingualism and cultural understanding of Alberta’s rich and vibrant Francophone community and language.  Being the only university-degree program west of Manitoba (and the only French language college program in Alberta), Alberta’s French second language students would not have the equal opportunity to become an active and successful member of both Alberta’s and the global economy without Campus Saint-Jean. »

Victoria Wishart, President of Canadian Parents for French Alberta Branch

We must remember that the Campus Saint-Jean was founded in 1908 by the Oblate Fathers and that it became a faculty of the University of Alberta in 1977 following an agreement concluded in 1976 between the province of Alberta, the University of Alberta, the Oblate Fathers (role now delegated to ACFA) and the federal government. The 1976 Agreement emphasizes the importance of the CSJ in meeting the increasing demand for French-speaking teachers and a bilingual workforce in Western Canada as well as included obligations for the signatories in the agreement.

Today, Alberta has more than 268,000 French-speaking citizens, a population that grew by more than 50% between 1991 and 2016. Campus Saint-Jean provides Francophone and French immersion students the opportunity to pursue their postsecondary studies in French. For many years, the Campus Saint-Jean has suffered from a serious operational and structural financial deficit which has limited its ability to meet the growing demand for training a bilingual workforce in Alberta.

Since 1926, the ACFA has been the voice of the French-speaking community in Alberta. Its role is to promote the interests of the latter and ensure its overall development.


For more information :
Diane Fournier
Public affairs assistant