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Supreme Court overturns N.W.T. decision blocking students' admission to French school

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada ruled today that the Northwest Territories education minister erred in refusing to allow students from five families to attend a French-language school.

The children didn't have a constitutional right to attend a francophone school in the territory because they didn't fit certain criteria, such as French being their mother tongue or the language of previous education.

But a francophone school board recommended they be admitted anyway to help promote the language.

The parents first requested the transfers in 2018 and 2019, but the minister denied them, kicking off a protracted court battle.

The Supreme Court's unanimous decision says the territory's government should have considered the preservation and development of minority language communities.

Justice Suzanne Côté wrote in the decision that the minister put too much emphasis on the cost of admitting the students to the schools.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2023.

The Canadian Press