Constitutional Rights at the Kitchen Table: British Columbia Francophones and the Making of a Minority-Language Educational System
- British Columbia minority language education,
- official bilingualism,
- francophone community,
- Programme cadre de français,
- Conseil scolaire francophone
In a recent landmark decision, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that the underfunding of British Columbia’s Conseil scolaire francophone constitutes a breach of Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees in matters of minority-language education. While this marked the end of a decade of judicial proceedings, this article situates the decision in a broader historical context by examining the struggle to develop French-language educational programs in BC. If the province did not experience the education crises that tore through other parts of Canada in the decades following Confederation, BC francophones seized on the growing acceptance of bilingualism in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s to fight for an education system catering to their linguistic and cultural aspirations. Shifting the scholarly focus from the constitutional negotiating tables at which sat politicians and high-level bureaucrats to the kitchen tables around which parent groups gathered to formulate their demands, this article traces the grassroots battle to bring French-language schools to the province with Canada’s highest rate of linguistic assimilation.