Roger Lagassé is moving out of the classroom and into politics in a bid to unseat incumbent Robert Joncas and become South Coast trustee for School District 93, B.C.’s French school district, also known as Conseil scolaire francophone (CSF).
The Halfmoon Bay resident has played a prominent role in francophone education on the Coast. He was part of the committee that founded a francophone education program in 1989, now known as École du Pacifique Sechelt and lobbied for a high school francophone program, l’École secondaire Chatelech. Approximately 100 students are enrolled in the two schools.
“It’s a logical progression to give back to the school district,” said Lagassé, who has taken a leave of absence while he campaigns. “I consider it to be a labour of love and am dedicated to the cause of francophone education in B.C. and the Sunshine Coast.”
Lagassé has been a teacher and a principal on the Coast since the 1980s. He took early retirement in 2011 but has been working part time as the francophone program’s aboriginal education advisor, which has taken him to all schools in the district. He has consulted with educators on how they can integrate Indigenous culture into all subjects and has taught courses on Indigenous education at UBC.
Among his priorities are to build new schools, and to integrate elements of aboriginal education into the classroom to counterbalance the effects of screen time on children. “There is a real danger if our children spend too much time in front of computer screens. The principles of Aboriginal Education that foster a constant relationship with nature and a sense of place provide us with a path to a more balanced, humane and healthy educational experience,” said Lagassé in a release.
CSF has 40 French schools across B.C. Students can attend those schools if they are francophone or if they or one of their siblings has attended a francophone school.
Lagassé is running against Joncas, who has been trustee for two terms and is based in North Vancouver. He told Coast Reporter he is also concerned with school spaces and sees a lack of appropriate schools as “the big problem right now.”
The number of people eligible to vote on the Coast is low as was voter turnout last election and Lagassé said one of his goals is to increase voter participation. Ballots were sent out by email on Sept. 19. To learn whether you are eligible to vote, visit: www.csf.bc.ca. Voting day is Oct. 20.