History of the CSF

18th century

1793 – Alexander McKenzie’s expedition. He is accompanied by ten other men, six of whom are French-Canadian voyageurs (Doucette, Landry, Beaulieux, Bisson, Beauchamp and Contois).

19th century

1807 – A group of Voyageurs founds Fort George, now Prince George.

1848-1849 – At first, French religious schools are set up for the Indigenous, Métis and Francophone population; then, at the request of the authorities, the schools are also required to accommodate Anglophone children.

1860-1890 – Over a 30-year period, Francophone priests and nuns establish schools at various locations in the province (Kelowna, Mission, Williams Lake, Kamloops and Cranbrook).

1871 – The British Columbia public school system is established.

20th century

1910 – A number of Francophones immigrate from the east. Maillardville’s first Catholic school, École Notre-Dame de Lourdes, opens its doors to the community’s Francophone children.

1964 – The Fédération canadienne-française de la Colombie-Britannique (F.C.F.C.B. – French-Canadian Federation of British Columbia) focuses its efforts on the establishment of non-denominational schools operated and administered by Francophone trustees.

1977 – Nearly a hundred years after setting up a public education system, the government of British Columbia grants Francophones the right to an education in French. The principles governing French-language education are established in a program called the “Programme cadre de français” (PCDF).

1979 – The PCDF starts with 232 students in 9 programs under the jurisdiction of Anglophone school districts.

1982 – The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is adopted. Section 23 of the Charter gives official language minorities the right to have their children educated in their mother tongue, where numbers warrant.

1983 – B.C.’s first homogeneous Francophone public school opens: École Anne-Hébert in Vancouver.

1988 – The Association des parents du Programme cadre de français (APPCF – Programme cadre du français Parents Association) initiates a court action against the provincial government to secure the right to manage the Francophone education system.

1989 – For the first time, the province’s School Act contains a clause setting out the rights of Francophone parents under section 23 of the Canadian Charter.

1990 – The Supreme Court of Canada hands down its ruling in the Mahé case. The government establishes a special committee on Francophone education.

1991 – The special committee recommends the creation of three school boards and proposes an implementation mechanism. However, no follow-up actions are taken by the government.

1994 – The court action adjourned in 1990 is reactivated.

1995 – November – The Francophone School Authority is established by regulation. It has jurisdiction over the corridor from Chilliwack to Victoria.

1996 – August – Justice Vickers of the Supreme Court of British Columbia rules in favour of the parents in the court action reactivated in 1994.

1997 – July 28 – The Legislative Assembly passes the draft amendment to the School Act (Bill 45), thereby entrenching recognition of Francophone educational rights in British Columbia.

1997 – December – Another court action is launched to require the provincial government to give the Francophone school board jurisdiction over the whole province and enforce the 1996 ruling of Justice Vickers.

1998 – January  – The Association des parents francophones de la Colombie-Britannique becomes the Fédération des parents francophones de Colombie-Britannique (Federation of Francophone Parents of British Columbia).

1998 –  March 27 – As a result of the second court action brought by the parents, the provincial cabinet adopts a regulation governing the Conseil scolaire francophone, giving it jurisdiction over the whole province effective July 1, 1999.

1998 – November – Justice Vickers of the Supreme Court of British Columbia hands down his ruling in the action brought in December 1997. A regulation is adopted governing a mediation process to be used in case of a disagreement between the CSF and the school districts when negotiating service agreements (rental of space, school transportation, loaning of staff, etc.).

1999 – July – The CSF obtains jurisdiction over the Francophone education system throughout the province. The number of electoral regions increases from 5 to 7.

21st century

2002 – The Ministry of Education allocates $15 million for the construction of two Francophone schools: École Gabrielle-Roy in Surrey and École André-Piolat in North Vancouver.

2004 – The Conseil scolaire francophone continues to grow. The Ministry of Education agrees to fund the construction of two new schools: École Victor-Brodeur in Victoria and a secondary school in Vancouver. Nearly 3,500 students are enrolled in 37 programs, including 19 homogeneous schools, of which 14 belong to the CSF.

2005 – The Fédération des parents francophones continues to represent and promote the rights and interests of British Columbia’s Francophone parents. Its membership is comprised of 27 parent advisory councils and 10 preschool parent associations

2009 – The CSF has 3,500 students in 38 schools, of which 23 are homogeneous, offers a curriculum from kindergarten through grade 12, online courses and the International Baccalaureate program, and signs a five-year agreement on the enhancement of aboriginal education throughout its territory. Enrolment is increasing by more than 3% per year. Its schools have become overcrowded.

2010 – Together with the Fédération des parents francophones and a group of co-plaintiff parents, the CSF initiates a legal action to require the provincial government to recognize the school board’s constitutional responsibilities and provide it with the means to fulfil its obligations.

2013 – Proceedings begin in the legal action between the CSF, the Fédération des parents francophones, a group of co-applicants, and the Government of British Columbia.

2016 – Madam Justice Russell’s judgment is handed down. The vast majority of the conclusions are favourable to the Francophone community. An appeal against the decision is filed.

2017 – The CSF continues to grow. Enrolment has increased by more than 20% since 2012.

2019 – April 11 – The Supreme Court of Canada agrees to hear the appeal against a decision handed down by the British Columbia Court of Appeal on French-language education.

2019 – June 18 – The campaign “Mon éducation Notre droit” is launched.

2019 – September 26 – Hearing of the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique (CSF), the Fédération des parents francophones de BC and co-appellant parents before the Supreme Court of Canada in Winnipeg.

2020 – June 12 – The Supreme Court of Canada hands down its decision in the French-language education case, deciding in favour of the Conseil scolaire francophone (CSF), the Fédération des parents francophones de Colombie-Britannique, and co-appellant parents in their claim against the provincial Ministry of Education. The reasoning of the majority of the Supreme Court of Canada is clear: “children of s. 23 rights holders must receive an educational experience that is substantively equivalent to the experience provided to the majority, regardless of the size of the school or program in question.” According to the Supreme Court of Canada, the lower courts “adopted an inordinately narrow interpretation of s. 23 and its role in the Canadian constitutional order.”

2020 – September – The CSF has over 6,400 students and 45 schools across the province, offering a curriculum from kindergarten through grade 12.