The Francophone community in B.C. has an equal right to public education

School trustees are part of the fabric of the community; they bring a local perspective to their work on boards of public education. They add a lot of input to discussions with the Ministry of Education and Child Care as well.

I am Patrick Gatien, the chair of the Conseil Scolaire Francophone de la Colombie-Britannique (CSF). The CSF ensures the Francophone community in B.C. has an equal right to public education. I want to give every possible opportunity to Francophone children in B.C., and this drives my work as a trustee. It is especially imperative for Francophones in B.C. to pay attention to the CSF election, not only to vote, but to consider running as a trustee.

Patrick Gatien | Photo courtesy of Patrick Gatien

If you want to run as a school trustee, you need to make sure that you are doing so for the right reasons. I understand there can be a lot of politics involved, but this should not be your focus. Instead, what should make you want to run is making sure that children have the best education possible. A trustee needs to ensure we are putting together programs to help the next generation succeed. We should always strive to provide equity across B.C. schools. Being a school trustee is not a stepping stone towards another political role. It is a tough job that requires a lot of hard work. You are dealing with a most precious resource: children, and every candidate must keep that in mind.

In my role as the chair of the CSF board, I make sure we are having discussions and making decisions that are going to have a positive impact on our learners. There can be a lot of administrative functions and they have their place, but I want to make sure we are actively discussing things that will directly help kids.

The CSF has an important role in representing the Francophone community in all conversations about public education. I want to ensure the Francophone community has a seat at every table and that we are considered for every opportunity. We do not necessarily always need the same things that English boards do, and it is our job to advocate for the needs of Francophone students.

My lived experiences influence my role as a trustee for the CSF. When I started my mandate, I had two children in the public education system and a third on the way. Now, I have three young children in Francophone schools. I wanted to provide my expertise to help better Francophone education in B.C., I wanted to move it forward.

When I look back on one of my biggest achievements, it was quite unexpected. When the pandemic started, we feared that students would have to pause their learning, but we kept the student experience at heart. We made sure that they were safe and still surrounded by peers, that they still had the important social aspect of school and were still getting a great education. We worked hard to ensure that our students would progress rather than get stalled. I think we can proudly look back and say that the work we have done during the pandemic mitigated its impact on students in B.C.

Voting for trustees October 15 means choosing someone who will share many of your values and understand the unique situations faced by your local board of education. Francophone voters need to appreciate how unique and important our CSF board is and vote for trustees that care about French education. Without participation from the B.C.’s Francophone community, the CSF will not have the right representation to keep moving forward. You can find out more about the CSF election process on our website.

It is very validating to serve as a school trustee. It is great to see the impact that you have on kids and how you can make their education better. There is always more to do, and if you want to be a part of that, consider running for school trustee.

Source: British Columbia School Trustees Association (BCSTA)