Sudbury·Audio

France Gelinas rallies for Ontario's first French university

A push for a French university in Ontario continues as students from the Francophone community rally at Queen's Park Thursday.
Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas introduced a bill for a francophone university last May. And now, she is pushing for a board of governors to help establish the institution. (Radio-Canada)
A rally is being held at Queen's Park in support of a francophone university in the province. Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas is pushing for the creation of the school. She joined us to talk about why she'd like to see a francophone university in Ontario. 7:37

A push for a French university in Ontario continues as students from the Francophone community rally at Queen's Park tomorrow.

Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas has been pushing for this since last May, when she introduced a bill for a Francophone university.

The bill was passed by the legislature last November. Now Gelinas is pushing for a board of governors to help establish the institution.

The school will help preserve French culture in the province, she said.

"Ontario is richer because we have Francophone people within our midst.  We have French schools that allow Francophones to maintain their language," she said.

"We have our primary schools, our secondary schools [and] we have our French colleges. It's only the completion of our education system so that we would have a French university."

Provincial money needed

Joel Belliveau, a history professor at Laurentian University who has studied Ontario's French population, said having a French university can help students learn their professions in another language.

While Franco-Ontarians are comfortable speaking English, "this is a chance however to learn our professions in French and come out of an institution knowing the vocabulary that's necessary in both languages," he said.  

Gelinas said she hopes the upcoming provincial budget will set aside some money to establish the new board of governors.

In an interview with CBC News last year, Gélinas said the university would likely have multiple campuses, so it could be accessible across the province.

She acknowledged there is a French language university in northeastern Ontario, Université de Hearst, but said a Franco-Ontarian university would be mandated to offer a full range of university degrees and programs in French.

"The Université de Hearst does not have the mandate to do this," she said. "Their board of governors … that created them … for a purpose, and the purpose is not to be a university for the entire province."

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