Francophone group welcomes funding to support French post-secondary school

The Northern Coalition for a French Language University (Coalition nord-ontarienne pour une université de langue française) says it’s welcoming an announcement from the federal government to strengthen post-secondary education in French.

Northern Coalition for a French Language University says Laurentian should not be eligible for federal money

Denis Constantineau is a spokesperson for the Northern Coalition for a French Language University. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

The Northern Coalition for a French Language University (Coalition nord-ontarienne pour une université de langue française) says it's welcoming an announcement from the federal government to strengthen French language post-secondary education.

The money, first announced in the federal budget, is now being made available and institutions may now learn about eligibility requirements and start applying for it.

In a news release Wednesday, the group said  $121.3 million will be provided over thee years to support university studies in Canada's Francophone minority communities.

"Thanks to its plan to be an institution by, for and with Francophones, the Université de Sudbury should be eligible for this funding," group spokesperson Denis Constantineau said in the statement. 

Laurentian University severed its federation agreement with the University of Sudbury and the two other federated universities, Huntington and Thorneloe, in April during restructuring brought on by a financial crisis.

Since then, several groups have pushed to make the University of Sudbury a standalone school for Francophones. The federal money, Constantineau said, should be used to help make that dream a reality.

"As for Laurentian University, its decision to unilaterally abolish 28 French-language programs last spring shows that it no longer serves the Francophone community."

"Its actions should make it ineligible for this funding. It is time for the Université de Sudbury to take its place."

Constantineau added that the group is hoping for the province to follow the federal government's lead in support of the project.

"What we need is the province to move," Constantineau told CBC News. "We need the province of Ontario to actually step up and say yes to a French language university for northern Ontario, and here's the road map or here's how we're going to get there."

As for reopening the school before September, Constantineau thinks that's a long shot.

"With every passing day it's less and less likely that an opening for September is likely," he said. "But it can still happen. It's a full fledged university that has the right to grant degrees. It has what it needs."

"What it's missing is the nod from the province to say you have programs that are accredited. You can actually go ahead and offer programming and open your doors and then and build on that."

"So once again, the ball's in the province's court." 


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