From the editor: What we build tells us a lot about who we are

Joe Paraskevas, Mainstreeter Editor

Joe Paraskevas, Mainstreeter Editor

OK. That’s obvious. But it bears mentioning this month because of what we learned recently.

There might be a new school built in Old Ottawa East in the next two or three years. The Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est held a public consultation in late October to gauge support for their plans to build an elementary school that would serve the Glebe, Old Ottawa South and OOE.

Unsurprisingly, interest was strong. Parents expressed the kind of fondness for the three communities you often hear at such events. It had to do with how safe and welcoming they are.

In fact, it was occasionally amusing to hear about life in the Glebe, OOS and OOE from a French perspective. One parent spoke about the depth to which the French language had penetrated the communities.

She recalled speaking English with people on multiple occasions, only to discover they were actually French speakers. She referred to such a hidden culture as “une francophonie discrète.”

A French school would answer a profound, practical need but also add to the quality of life of our area, participants said. School board officials were pleased.

They came away convinced their plan to build a school was destined for success. While they secured funding and began construction, temporary daycare, kindergarten and Grade One and Two classes could be set up at Saint Paul University next fall, they said.

I left the meeting with a different message. I told myself we at the Mainstreeter had to focus on French far more than we had.

That meant not simply covering events linked to the Francophone community but also looking at how French – in all its manifestations – was lived in OOE. A few days later, my sources sent me a message that underlined the importance of that way of thinking.

People in another corner of OOE were talking about the possibility of adding French as an immersion program at Lady Evelyn Alternative School. Was it the key to keeping a beloved school alive? The Streeter had tried to tackle that story earlier this year. It was high time to revisit the matter.

So, as we head to 2017 – a historic year for Canada, when we celebrate 150 years of nationhood – this is one way I, as editor, want to mark the event: by turning to stories about French: as a language, a culture and a way of looking at the world. Who knows? It could open doors to other buildings.

Happy New Year!

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Filed in: Editorial, FP, Front Page

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