Dr. Stéphanie Chouinard


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French-language postsecondary education in Ontario: crisis or opportunity?

How the Laurentian and UOF issues could open the door to Franco-Ontarians’ dream institution

March 2021 | Dr. Stéphanie Chouinard

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gave new life to this phrase when he uttered it during Obama’s first term. What is routinely left out though, is the second sentence in the quote,” …what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before."

Is the current financial crisis at Laurentian University, and the simultaneous enrolment crisis at Université de l'Ontario Français, such an opportunity? An opportunity to do something that we “could not do before”? This is the question Northern Policy Institute asked three leading thinkers to answer.

This piece answers the question by outlining the historic demands around a pan-provincial French post-secondary education network, the development that led up to the creation of the Université de l’Ontario français and asks whether today’s issue could be a steppingstone towards achieving those historical demands. The paper concludes that yes, such a network could be possible. However, this rests on a number of assumptions, the primary one being whether or not institutions will be willing to play ball, and second, whether the provincial government will give this arrangement its blessing. Another factor to consider, as well is how the University of Ottawa positions itself in relation to such a network. 

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