Montréal | Ottawa, 22 May 2020
To the attention of Mr. Jason Kenney
Premier of Alberta,
The Canadian Historical Association and the Institut d'histoire de l'Amérique française are joining forces today to denounce the massive budget cuts your government is imposing on the University of Alberta's Campus Saint-Jean. By forcing the university to cut hundreds of positions and reduce the courses offered at Campus Saint-Jean by 44%, these cuts jeopardize the very existence of the province's only French-language post-secondary institution.
Already suffering from the almost 18% cut to the University of Alberta's budget over the past two years, Campus Saint-Jean deserves better than the additional cuts included in the last provincial budget. The extent of the cuts to higher education funding is all the more incomprehensible given the demand for post-secondary education in French in the province: since 2014, the student population at Campus Saint-Jean has jumped by 40%, and today forms a community of nearly 900 people.
Beyond its academic mission, Campus Saint-Jean is the heart of the province's Francophone and Francophile community. An important centre for university research, higher education in French and the training of teachers working in francophone and immersion schools, Campus Saint-Jean benefits all Albertans. The current cuts add to students' linguistic insecurity and threaten the very pursuit of original and recognized research on Francophone communities in the West and the international Francophonie.
Hard hit by the drop in oil prices and the international health crisis, Alberta will need more than ever to be able to count on the cultural and linguistic diversity to which the Francophone community contributes in order to implement innovative solutions for recovery. Higher education institutions are one of the keys to face the social and economic challenges that will accompany deconfinement and adaptation to our new reality. As the epicentre of Alberta's Francophonie, Campus Saint-Jean is a key academic and cultural institution that plays a major role in the province's intellectual standing and prosperity. Let us not forget that bilingualism is an asset for Alberta's prosperity and for its full contribution to the Canadian Confederation and its institutions. We therefore call on your government to respect the province's Francophones and Francophiles by providing adequate funding for Campus Saint-Jean.
To this end, we will ask our members and the general public to contribute by asking them to share this letter, which we will make public, and we will encourage them to communicate their concerns directly to your administration. We hope that you will reconsider your support for this important institution.
Penny Bryden, President of the Canadian Historical Association
Brigitte Caulier, President of the Institute of History of French America
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