It may surprise you to learn that there is no French-language high school on the Halifax peninsula. Not one. Parents, care-givers and students who go to primary school in French inevitably have to make a choice about Grade 9: go to an English school or take a bus to Burnside.
Here’s what you need to know: Nova Scotia has a French-language school board called the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial–CSAP. The CSAP council currently has 18 members across the province to represent the 10 CSAP school districts.
Halifax has three council members who are elected every term. Of those three, Jeff Arsenault is the only council member who represents the Halifax Peninsula. The council has met regularly over the issue of too few schools in the province to serve the francophone community. Community consultations have, according to Arsenault, validated the fact that students need at least one new school on the peninsula. However, as of today the solution CSAP has provided has been the purchase of a school in Burnside to operate as a high school and the proposal of a new primary school to be built at the corner of Oxford Street and Bayers Road, to open within the next few years.
Arsenault has been a vocal opposition to these decisions because, he says, neither school is serving the students on the peninsula and parents and care-givers have lost faith in the CSAP as a result.
Earlier this month Arsenault was suspended from council for just under three months, until early January 2024. However, he is still an elected member who represents the families of French-speaking students for the peninsula. As such, he has a message to parents and primary care-givers about what he considers to be an emergency within CSAP that could determine the next 50 years of French-language education on the peninsula–for better or worse.
A full bilingual transcription of this interview is coming soon along with more coverage on why Arsenault was suspended–and the information he wants out about what he sees as CSAP’s failings.