In 1997, French for the Future founders John Ralston Saul and Lisa Balfour Bowen imagined a future in which all young Canadians feel pride in their country’s linguistic duality, and enthusiastically pursue and embrace their own bilingualism.
Almost 20 years later, the national not-for-profit organization remains faithful to this vision and continues to be a key player in promoting the French language among students from Grades 7-12.
This fall, French for the Future launches its 10th annual National Essay Contest offering winners a share of $215,000 in scholarships at eight Canadian universities that offer French language and French immersion programs.
From Oct.1 to Dec.19, students from Grade 10 to Grade 12 from across the country (Secondary IV, V, and CEGEP 1 in Quebec) are invited to submit a 750-word essay in French exploring their take on the value of sports, arts and culture on communities. This year’s theme was inspired by the words of Michaëlle Jean, the former Governor General of Canada: “Sports culture and arts are necessities that bring together communities and give youth a way to express themselves.”
Participating universities include:
• Campus Saint-Jean, University of Alberta (Alberta)
• French Language Centre, University of Lethbridge (Alberta)
• Glendon College of York University (Ontario)
• Laurentian University (Ontario)
• Université de Moncton (New Brunswick)
• University of Ottawa (Ontario)
• Université de Saint-Boniface (Manitoba)
• Université Sainte-Anne (Nova Scotia)
Scholarships range in value from $1,000 to $12,000 and can be applied to first-language French or French immersion programs depending upon the university and student preference. A full list of scholarships can be found on the French for the Future website.
The goal of the contest, as with all other French for the Future programs, is to encourage students to explore their French language skills. The contest can also provide teachers with a great classroom activity that has the potential to really shape a student’s post-secondary experience.
Essays must be submitted through French for the Future’s website by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Dec.19. Judging is conducted in a blind fashion by a group of teachers from across the country.
Interested students, teachers and parents are encouraged to visit the French for the Future website for full details and insight into how judges evaluate submissions.
“Writing the essay itself was a great experience. It gave me an opportunity to refine my French skills and expand my vocabulary,” says Winnipeg’s Elizabeth Roberts, who won a $3,000 scholarship to Université de Saint-Boniface. “While I am very grateful to have received a scholarship, seeing my grandparents so proud of my essay and having their seal of approval was the best reward I could have had.”
French for the Future executive director Danielle Lamothe reports: “teachers who use the essay contest as a class assignment have told us that it’s a great way to connect schoolwork with students’ future goals. The possibility of a scholarship motivates many to invest more time and energy into their work and that’s great for everyone.”
Beyond the essay contest, French for the Future delivers three additional core programs all similarly targeted to youth and teachers. For more information on French for the Future’s programs, please visit http://www.french-future.org.
-French for the Future