French immersion students from School District 27 gathered around City Hall on Thursday, June 14 in honour of French immersion week. The students sang O’Canada in French at city hall and participated in a number of French activities through the lakecity. Leslie Rowse photo

Salut mes amis: French immersion students take over Williams Lake

Canadian Parents for French host French Day in dowtown Williams Lake

Almost 200 French-speaking students took to the streets in Williams Lake on June 7, in honour of the city’s French Immersion Week.

Starting at City Hall, where they raised a flag and sang O Canada (en francais of course), the group of French immersion students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 did a variety of field trips through the city.

They stopped in at the Potato House to learn to play spoons, and did tours of the courthouse, Safeway and the library.

Most finished at Kiwanis Park with a chance to play on the toys and in the water park, as well as to chow down on the most Quebecois of dishes: poutine and Beavertails.

“We’re trying to bring some French cultural events to our children because we live in an English community,” said Canadian Parents for French Williams Lake chapter president Tammy Watson.

“My three kids are in French immersion and I feel it is a gift we cannot give our children, because we are not bilingual ourselves. The ability to speak a second language is amazing and I tell my kids you can’t even be premier unless you are bilingual.”

Vice-president Leslie Rowse said that many of the businesses in town have people who do speak French, so they also use their skills with the children.

“It is awesome for them to be excited about speaking French and be out in the community speaking French because that is often something they don’t have here,” she said. “We like to give them something because they are working really hard at learning French and becoming bilingual so we just want to make it exciting for them.”

The French immersion program is run out of Nesika Elementary School, and in past years has seen its numbers increase dramatically.

“It’s like adding music to your repertoire. It’s just something extra that helps kids learn and open their brains and I think it is an amazing program,” said Watson.

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