Skip to content

Opinion: Northern MPPs demand French university be funded

Province recently said no to Université de Sudbury proposal to transform into a French-language university
The University of Sudbury’s building, which is situated on Laurentian University’s campus.

The struggle to bring French education to Ontario has persisted for the last 100 years, and last month, this ongoing effort was dealt yet another significant blow — Ford's Conservatives announced that the Université de Sudbury would not receive the provincial funding needed to solidify its future. 

This was heartbreaking news to Ontario’s francophone community. 

To understand the moment in which we find ourselves, we must look back and learn from past struggles. 

In 1912, the provincial government passed Regulation 17, which made teaching in French in Ontario illegal. It wasn’t rescinded until 1927. This law had horrific impacts on the Francophone population in Ontario, leading to entire generations unable to write or read in their first language. 

Sudbury waited more than 40 years to have its first French public high school, which opened in 1969. Twenty-five years after that, in 1995, Ontario’s NDP government financed Collège Boréal, a French college, and soon after, French schools were allowed to govern themselves for the first time.

Slowly but surely, the Francophone community stood firm and in solidarity, pushing for progress in French education. It has taken a long time and a lot of effort, but we achieved quality French education as guaranteed by the Canadian constitution.  

While working making advancements in primary and secondary schools and securing a French college, the Francophone community never lost sight of a French University. 

The Collège du Sacré-Coeur started more than 100 years ago. In 1957, it became l’Université de Sudbury. In 1960, it joined Laurentian University as a federated university until the restructuring in 2021. 

For the last two years, l’Université de Sudbury has listened to the strong voice of the united Francophone population of Ontario's Mid-North and applied to the province to be recognized as the region’s French-language university. 

And in response? The Ford government slammed the door in their face, denying the Université de Sudbury funding to establish a standalone Francophone school. Ford’s decision left the community stunned, albeit unsurprised. 

This is yet another disappointment, one of too many for a community constantly deceived and let down by this government. 

Changes and investments in French education have made us a stronger, more diverse community and fostered a vibrant Francophone culture – a culture that provides much value to the province of Ontario. 

To build on this progress, the Ford government must reverse its decision and invest in a French-language university worthy of our youth, worthy of our thinkers and worthy of our aspirations. That starts with provincial funding for the Université de Sudbury.  

If you agree, please sign our petition.

NDP MPPs Jamie West (Sudbury) France Gélinas (Nickel Belt) and Guy Bourgouin (Mushkegowuk—James Bay).