TOR BAY – A long-held dream for many residents of the Tor Bay area is one crucial step closer to becoming reality.
Members of Conseil scolaire acadien provincial (CSAP) – the Francophone school board for Nova Scotia – voted unanimously on Feb. 25 to support the establishment of a French-language school in that area of Guysborough County.
“It gave us goosebumps – it is so exciting,” Jennifer Delorey tells The Journal of the news.
CSAP officials will now seek approval for the request from Nova Scotia Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development Becky Druhan.
This important milestone comes more than one year after the Tor Bay Area Parent/CSAP Liaison Group – with support from the broader community – launched an effort to bring a CSAP school to the region.
“We have taken all the necessary steps,” Delorey – one of the group members – offers of the ongoing process.
In early December, she and Nicole Avery-Bell – on behalf of the community group – made a presentation to the CSAP board; one that outlined their reasons, and high level of support, for bringing a French-language school to the region.
Since that session, CSAP officials have made a couple of visits to the area. They also participated in an in-person and virtual community information session on Jan. 25, where group members outlined the status of the initiative.
“They were very impressed by the interest,” Delorey remembers of the representatives’ reaction to the strong turnout for that public gathering in Larry’s River – the likely location for a CSAP school, if one is constructed.
As for when a decision will come from the provincial education minister, Delorey says CSAP officials “expect a quick turnaround time.”
If the call for a French-language school is greenlighted, students would start to receive their education at home through a hybrid system, one that will include temporary facilities such as portable classrooms.
She notes that the goal was to start providing classes in 2022, but they “didn’t have enough transition time.”
This year, two students – including Delorey’s son – are attending the closest CSAP school in the region: École acadienne de Pomquet in Antigonish County. Taxied to school each day, the pair spend an estimated three hours travelling.
Delorey says the support they have received from CSAP has been “huge.”
“They have always been responsive to our needs.”
When asked about the importance of bringing a French-language school to the Tor Bay area, Delorey notes that it is the only Acadian region in the province without one.
“It is very important part of our culture and heritage,” she says.
There are 48 names on a list of potential students for the new school.
“And, it is growing each day,” Delorey says.
With files from Lois Ann Dort