In the wake of this week’s announcements, we, the members of the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa, join the diverse chorus of voices expressing support for the Laurentian University community. This is a time of profound loss for students, staff and professors, as well as for the mission of higher education, writ large. As a Faculty of Education, part of our raison d’être is to prepare future educators for careers in francophone schools. We are particularly troubled by what these program closures portend for education in the province. The implications of these decisions have both immediate and long-term consequences for la francophonie in Northern Ontario.
The human costs of such sweeping job cuts run much deeper than just monetary, though this is a cascading blow to any community. Sudbury is a hub of French language institutions and francophone culture. Children who attend the region’s francophone schools go on to become the next generation of French-speaking business, industry and cultural leaders and for some, the next cohort of teacher education candidates. Lack of funding for francophone programs limits opportunities for higher education and puts into peril the current and future flourishing of the Franco-Ontarian community. Laurentian University’s central role as a driver of a vibrant francophonie in northern Ontario is longstanding and we hope robust solutions can be found to mitigate the current situation.
Richard Barwell, Dean of the Faculty of Education
University of Ottawa