Sudbury MPP Jamie West goes full French immersion, hopes to beef up language skills

Jamie West is hoping that two weeks of immersive training will help him improve his French.

Sudbury politician says a two-week course in Jonquiere will help foster connection with Francophone community

Jamie West says he hopes that a two-week immersion in Quebec will boost his French language skills. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

Jamie West is hoping that two weeks of immersion training will help him improve his French.

The MPP for Sudbury will be heading to Jonquiere, Quebec for the language lessons, which he calls completely "immersive."

"It will be non-stop French and I think it'll take me to the next hurdle," West said. "I can speak a little bit, but I sneak in an English word with a French accent, which isn't unusual in Sudbury...but I'm getting more comfortable."

West said he made the choice to learn French to better communicate with his constituents and his family. 

"One of the commitments I made when I was running was that I wanted the community to know that French was important to me," West said. "My wife teaches at Felix Ricard and my kids are bilingual, but it's been something that I've always struggled with."

He said it hasn't been easy to find a tutor, and the hectic schedule of an MPP means other things often pop up.

"But one of the benefits of being an MPP is they have a program to teach you French," he said. "And so for the last year, twice a week for 90 minutes I meet with the professor. We either do it in person or we do it through Skype."

West said his goal is to read a speech at an upcoming Franco-Ontarian event completely in French and without notes.It's a quest people in the community have been supportive of.

"I think [making the attempt] is what's appreciated and that's why I keep pushing myself to get better at it," West said. "We've had a strong attack on the Francophone community with the Doug Ford government and I want them to know that we have a voice that's important to us, and I think the hard work demonstrates that you really do care, it isn't lip service."


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