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French for the Future

“If you have been educated in the two languages, it’s as if you are travelling along the corridor that is your life... and because you have two languages, in this room that is your life, there are two doors - English and French... And with these two doors you can experience twice as many books and ideas, business opportunities, twice as much theatre, philosophy, science. Two ways of seeing, two ways of thinking.”

His Excellency John Ralston Saul at the opening of the 3rd annual French for the Future conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, April 6, 2000

Founded in 1997 by John Ralston Saul, French for the Future is a national non-profit association that organizes a series of French-language conferences for high school students. The primary goals of the conferences are to forge linguistic and cultural links among students enrolled in French first and second-language education programs (principally immersion) and to help students think about their bilingual and bicultural lives, now and in adulthood, including the positive career potential resulting from learning a second language.

The City of Toronto hosted the inaugural French for the Future conference in April 1997. Over 200 students from eight schools attended the conference that year. Today, the organization has expanded to 12 cities and involves over 3,000 students. The conference also now includes a live satellite link that provides participants with the opportunity to speak to their peers and exchange views about the challenges and benefits of learning a second language.

In 2003, conferences will be held in St. John’s, Halifax, Charlottetown, Fredericton, Montréal, Toronto, Sudbury, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver and Yellowknife.

Workshops and plenary sessions at each conference provide students with a unique opportunity to practice speaking French in public as they interact with bilingual professionals and community leaders. Each city organizes its own conference and each conference is different, reflecting the unique character of the region and local Francophone community.

In his capacity as Founder and Honorary Chair of the organization, John Ralston Saul officially opens the national conference each year. In April 2003, Mr. Saul will travel to St. John’s and will participate in a variety of events reflecting the importance of the French language and French-language education in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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