Get Involved

Je viens de loin: A new series of books promoting multicultural sensitivity

Attention French school and French immersion teachers!

Posted: Tuesday 17th March 2009 13:27

Would you like to have us present a new French, multicultural, local resource to your class? The series Je viens de loin (I come from far away) has just been published and we would be pleased to come and present it to you. The presentation includes a reading with the students, as well as an activity and group discussions. In addition, we will leave you some copies of this wonderful resource and provide you with a list of enrichment activities to follow up with. If you are interested, please contact Nancy Clement.

It’s always difficult to find resources in French on certain subjects. When searching for books portraying the challenges faced by immigrant students in Canadian schools, Nancy Clement found only one that was appropriate for the elementary grades. In that case, the story took place in a large city where the lifestyle is very different from that on PEI. A committee - composed of Marie-Jacquard Handy, originally from Sub-Saharan Africa, Éphétas Norman, originally form Haiti and parent at François-Buote School, and Nancy Clement, originally from Australia and an “Islander by choice” - was established to begin to respond to this need. The committee believes that education is the best strategy for creating schools and communities that are open to immigrants and respectful towards visible minorities.

In fact, Marie-Jacquard Handy, an education specialist and a mother has written a series of manuscripts for the purpose of intercultural education entitled ‘Je viens de loin’. The main characters are children who have recently arrived on PEI. The books speak from the perspective of children “from away” who are also members of a visible minority. As Ms. Handy underlines, “we need to have resources available in French which depict the situation on PEI, not in a large city in Quebec.” Ms. Handy commissioned Chantal Lavoie, an art student at François-Buote School, to illustrate the first book, and Natasha Kudashkina, a student at Holland College and a newcomer herself to illustrate the second and third books. With the financial support of Canadian Heritage, the committee is in the process of publishing the books for use and distribution within the schools.

The PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada supported this project by allowing Nancy Clement to pilot the books as part of the multicultural education initiatives in the French schools. “I am really eager to have a resource like this to share with the students and the teachers!” says Nancy.