Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

The decision is expected at 9:45 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

La Supreme Court of Canada will decide on the case of non-rights holders in the NWT.

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The Supreme Court of Canada will have to decide on two questions that could have an impact on the Canadian Francophonie.

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Ten months almost to the day After hearing the case of the Commission scolaire francophone des Territoires du Nord-Ouest, the Supreme Court of Canada will shortly release its decision on the admission of non-rights holders to French-speaking schools as well as on access to justice in French.

Two big questions must be decided by the highest court in the land. The first aims to determine who has the power to choose the students who can attend a French-speaking school beyond those entitled to them.

The judgment should also help define the extent to which the government must take into consideration the values ​​of article 23, particularly on the point of maintaining the vitality of Francophone communities, when the time comes to make decisions.

The second question that the judges have considered in recent months concerns the right to address the court in French in the Northwest Territories. This decision will mainly serve to define the right to be understood without the help of an interpreter or translator, that is to say, to have access to judges who are bilingual.

The case has pitted the Commission scolaire francophone des Territoires du Nord-Ouest (CSFTNO) against the territory's Ministry of Education since 2019 and follows the refusal of the Minister of Education at the time, Caroline Cochrane, to integrate a child of non-rights holders at the French-speaking school in Yellowknife.

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A rights holder is a person who has a constitutional right to French school, under section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (New window).

In the Northwest Territories, for a child of non-rights-holder parents to be able to attend a school in French, the CSFTNO must first evaluate and approve a request for admission from the parents, then recommend it to the Ministry of Education, which can then accept or reject the request.

The same year, Caroline Cochrane used her discretionary power to refuse five additional requests, which prompted the CSFTNO to take legal action. p>

Since then, all students have been accepted into French-speaking institutions, but as the Supreme Court of Canada had taken up the matter, the school board decided to pursue legal action to clarify the issue once and for all.

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A group of representatives, notably from the Commission scolaire francophone des Territoires du Nord-Ouest, from the Commission francophone school of the Yukon and the National Federation of Francophone School Boards, traveled to Ottawa for the hearings at the Supreme Court, on February 9, 2023.

Already, during the hearings on February 9, the president of the CSFTNO, Jean De Dieu Tuyishime, underlined the impact that the decision which will be rendered on Friday could have on the entire French-speaking part of the country.

Even if we know that we are small, even if we know that it takes a lot of time from us energy, we know that we are preparing the ground for others who will follow, he explained.

The decision from the Supreme Court of Canada is expected at 9:45 a.m. local time.

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