EDMONTON, AUGUST 17, 2020 – During a press conference earlier today, the Chair of the ACFA, Sheila Risbud, announced that the ACFA, an organization representing the interests of Alberta’s Francophonie and assignee of the rights of the Oblates in the 1976 Agreement, is initiating legal proceedings against the Government of Alberta and the University of Alberta concerning the funding granted to the Campus Saint-Jean.
“In recent months, we have increased our political efforts and proposed various short- and longer-term solutions to resolve the critical situation facing the Campus Saint-Jean. Unfortunately, we find ourselves at an impasse today. It is therefore with great determination that we will be pursuing legal action. The Campus Saint-Jean plays a fundamental role for Francophones in Alberta, for Alberta as a province, and for Canada as a whole. We will defend our only French-language postsecondary institution with all the ardor and energy which characterize Francophones in Alberta. We will not give up. Save Saint-Jean! »
Sheila Risbud, ACFA President
In 1976, the University of Alberta entered into a contractual agreement, in particular, “to deploy the best efforts to operate, maintain, improve and expand [the Campus Saint-Jean] […], located on the College site”. For its part, the province made a commitment in this Agreement to provide the University of Alberta with the funding « necessary to enable the University to meet its commitments. » Unfortunately, it is clear that the Government of Alberta and the University of Alberta have violated the 1976 Agreement.
In addition, there currently exists a serious shortage of French-speaking teachers and educational personnel for French-language schools in Alberta, which are protected by section 23 of the Charter. The Supreme Court of Canada recently explained that French-language minority school boards are not able to offer an educational experience truly equivalent to that of the linguistic majority in the proposed circumstances and that this constitutes a violation of section 23 of the Charter. The Government of Alberta therefore has an obligation under section 23 of the Charter to take measures to remedy this shortage, in particular by adequately funding the Campus Saint-Jean. The ACFA calls on the Court to ensure that these obligations are met.
The ACFA has also taken the opportunity to launch a fundraising campaign. We invite those who sense the urgency of the critical situation facing the Campus Saint-Jean and wish to support our ongoing efforts, to make a donation through the ACFA’s website.
Several speakers also took part in today’s press conference to highlight the uniqueness and importance of the Campus Saint-Jean and its role. The ACFA would like to take this opportunity to thank these participants for their availability and solidarity. It is possible to watch the press conference here.
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.
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