Francophone families in Halifax still pushing for French high school

The former Newbridge Academy building in Dartmouth, N.S., is now a French school. (Paul Palmeter/CBC - image credit)
The former Newbridge Academy building in Dartmouth, N.S., is now a French school. (Paul Palmeter/CBC - image credit)

It's a fight that isn't going away.

French-speaking families in Halifax have long pushed for a new French high school on the Halifax peninsula. They have now sent a letter to Premier Iain Rankin and Education Minister Derek Mombourquette saying they've had enough and want some action.

"We've been fighting for and have been promised schools here in Halifax for about a decade now," said Jean-Phillippe Bourgeois, the spokesperson for a group of about 100 families seeking a new French high school in Halifax. "But they haven't materialized."

Many of the families say they will not send their children to a new French high school in Dartmouth.

In 2019, the Nova Scotia government bought a former private school, Newbridge Academy, for $18 million and spent another $10 million on renovations.

About 300 students from grades 9-12, mostly from Halifax and Dartmouth, are now near the end of the school's first year.

Jean-Phillippe Bourgeois speaks for a group of about 100 families seeking a new French high school in Halifax.
Jean-Phillippe Bourgeois speaks for a group of about 100 families seeking a new French high school in Halifax.(Paul Palmeter/CBC)

"This is not what we want and it's unacceptable and we are categorically refusing this school," said Bourgeois, who has two children going to a French school in the elementary age group.

"We are not going to be sending our kids there. That school is not in our community and we have nothing to lose."

Bourgeois said every Nova Scotian deserves to have a school in the community where they live.

For now, French students from Halifax are transported by bus to the renovated school, now called École secondaire Mosaïque, located between the Burnside Industrial Park and Dartmouth Crossing.

But when many of the students graduate from École Mer et Monde in Halifax (grades P-8), they will then be faced with a big decision.

Citadel High, private schools

If they don't go to the French high school in Dartmouth they would go to Citadel High School, the only English-speaking public high school on the peninsula and one of the largest schools in all of Nova Scotia. Private school would be another option.

"It hurts a lot to have to do that," said Bourgeois. "But at the end of the day you have to make that decision."

Bourgeois said students would lose some of their French culture and would not speak their language as often if they attended English schools.

Conseil scolaire acadien provincial declined to comment. A spokesperson said the issue is on its agenda for discussion at a weekend board meeting and that they would be in a better position to comment next week.

On Friday, the province announced it will provide CSAP with a new pre-primary to Grade 8 school on the peninsula.

The new school will be located on the site of the former RCMP headquarters at the corner of Oxford Street and Bayers Road.

The province said in a media release it is "finalizing plans that will ensure a positive school experience on the peninsula for Acadian and francophone students and staff at École Mer et Monde" while the new school is built.

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