Nunavut French school board seeks new classrooms, more staff

Details are emerging in a lawsuit filed last week by the Commission scolaire francophone du Nunavut, which alleges the Government of Nunavut violated their rights under the Charter.

Commission scolaire says charter rights violated, seeks equivalent facilities for French school

Ecole des Trois Soleils in Iqaluit is the only French school in the territory. (Shaun Malley/CBC)

Details are emerging in a pending legal battle between the Government of Nunavut and the territory's French school board.

CBC has obtained a copy of the lawsuit, filed last week by the Commission scolaire francophone du Nunavut and lawyer Doug Garson. It says the territory's department of education violated the board's charter rights to provide French education, and makes a list of demands for extra funding.

The enhancements requested by the francophone school board include:

  • at least 4 new primary and 4 new secondary school classrooms;
  • a science lab, industrial arts, home economics, and computer rooms, as well as a soundproof room for music and theatre;
  • a gymnasium with platforms and connecting shower rooms;
  • a classroom for pre-kindergarten and a day care with a separate play area;
  • an office for a guidance counsellor, a teacher's office, and a student lounge

The suit is also requesting extra staff, including 2 secondary school and a preschool teacher, a full-time administrative secetary, and a vice principal. The francophone school board also seeks additional funding for special needs children.

The school board is in charge of one school in the territory, Iqaluit's Ecole des Trois Soleils.

The lawsuit is seeking damages and interest, as well as a judicial order for the Department of Education not to interfere in the board's affairs. 

The issue at the centre of the lawsuit are alleged violations of section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees minority language rights to French-speaking communities outside Quebec. The same section is currently being deliberated by the Supreme Court of Canada in a case brought forth by the Yukon's francophone school board, and the board in the Northwest Territories has applied for the Supreme Court to consider their case after two court decisions ordering the expansion of their francophone schools were overturned in January.