Seven Oaks explores Cree, Ojibwa, Tagalog bilingual programs

Winnipeg's Seven Oaks School Division is discussing a plan to provide bilingual school instruction in Cree, Ojibwa and Tagalog in schools starting in fall 2016.

Winnipeg school division to discuss plan at board meeting Monday night

Seven Oaks School Division is exploring offering classes in Cree, Ojibwa or Tagalog. (CBC)

A plan to provide school instruction in Cree, Ojibwa and Tagalog in Seven Oaks School Division starting in fall 2016 will be discussed at a board meeting Monday evening, superintendent Brian O'Leary said.

The school board is in an exploratory stage and will gauge interest through a parent survey in the New Year, said O'Leary.

"I think the board will want to see what the response is from the community and look at it as part of their budget considerations," he said.

Half the school day would be taught in an indigenous language or Tagalog, with the structure modelled after the Ukrainian program already running at R. F. Morrison School, O'Leary said.

Seven Oaks is currently phasing out its Hebrew program, which offered similar schooling, because of demographic shifts, said O'Leary.

Just 40 students willing to sign up for one of the languages would be enough to start the program, he said.

"I think there's a feeling that [parents] would like to keep young people connected to the culture, and we need school programs that help the community to do that," said O'Leary.

Some Seven Oaks schools already provide after-school language instruction in Cree, Ojibwa and Tagalog, and O'Leary believes some of those teachers would be suitable for new bilingual programs.

"We have been able to attract language teachers for that, and we're confident that if there's sufficient interest to warrant it, we could offer a quality program." he said.

Seven Oaks School Division will decide whether to offer the new bilingual programs on March 15, when it passes its final budget.