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Montrose student art wins province-wide contest

Five students from École Montrose worked together on a coat of arms that could end up on an official flag.

The Francophone Association of Alberta (ACFA) put out the call to students in Francophone and French immersion schools around Alberta. They were looking for them to create a coat of arms that represented the Francophone community. Out of about 75 entries the local art work was picked.

Amy Redmond, Kiara Wuttunee, Noel Nichol, Bronwyn Sargeant and Ella Pruden were selected as the winners of the Grade 5/6 category. A portion of the scoring was based on the art while the students were also graded on their ability to use the language in their explanation.

ACFA President Dr. Marc Arnal made a special presentation of a Francophone flag to the students at École Montrose on Tuesday.

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He says they will use the seal in a mostly ceremonial way, at least at first.

“The Franco-Albertan flag is actually recognized by the province of Alberta as an official symbol of the province. So we’re hoping that eventually we can get the coat of arms recognized as well.”

Grande Prairie Public Schools says the symbol will also be used in a variety of publications.

Arnal says while it is important to teach students the language it is also important to share the culture with them as well. He says it’s a part of of history and our citizenship.

“Giving students the opportunity to participate in activities in french that are not necessarily francophone activities per say but are in french I think broadens the notion of francophone culture and gives them a sense of belonging to a community that in all fairness has been fairly insular in the past.”

He says there are historic reasons that play into that but he is looking forward to the future. He says his main goal is trying to promote diversity.

“That’s a very different kind of an approach to what’s been done in the past. In the past we would talk about promoting the francophone community; defined fairly narrowly. Now we are talking about promoting linguistic duality; defined fairly broadly.”

Stats Can’s most recent census data show more than 88,000 people in Alberta say french is their first language. More than 8,000 Francophone people call Grande Prairie home.

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