The Youth Science Foundation Canada is the national organization for leadership in extra-curricular science and technology education. Through its 35 year history, the YSF Canada has actively encouraged more young Canadians to pursue career opportunities in science and technology. YSF Canada’s national Science Fair Program is the largest extra-curricular activity related to science and technology in Canada. Science Fairs are often cited as having a profound influence on students’ interest in further study and careers in science and technology and in research, writing, presentation and leadership skills.
About 500,00 student science projects compete within their classroom or school and some 25,000 of those become eligible to participate in the Regional Science Fairs. There are currently 110 regions established in Canada which are eligible to participate in the National Science Fair Program upon annual affiliation with YSF Canada. Winners from each of the RSF’s are then brought together at the annual Canada-Wide Science Fair. Over 400 students have the opportunity to communicate and compete with the best students in Canada and to be judged by highly competent scientists and researchers.
Bilingualism at CWSF 2001
At Canada-Wide Science Fair 2001 in Kingston all services will be provided in both official languages, English and French. This includes registration, tours, ceremonies, newsletters, social activities, meetings and most importantly, judging. Since Kingston is mainly an anglophone community, all services are readily available in English. To offer services in French, CWSF 2001 will rely on the very active French community composed of approximately 5,000 francophones; this number is much higher when we include immersion and bilingual students. In fact, according to a public survey conducted in the Summer of 1995 by Beaulieu et Lemire Consultation, Recherche et Formation inc. for ACFO Conseil régional des Mille-Iles, there are more than 20,000 people in the Thousand Islands region who can speak both official languages.
The presence of francophones and French-speaking students is very important at our regional Science Fair. In fact, about 10-15% of the projects require French judging. In recent years, several French projects were sent to the Canada-Wide Science Fairs (2 out of 3 in 1993, 2 out of 4 in 1994, 1 out of 5 in 1995, 2 out of 5 in 1996 and 2 out of 4 in 1997). Application forms and other documentation sent to the students are available in both languages. The awards ceremony is presented in both languages. In addition, the current co-chairs of the Regional Science Fair committee are bilingual.
About 15-20% of our 90 judges can express themselves and judge projects in French. This number could be increased easily to 50% at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in 2001 since the Royal Military College of Canada is located in Kingston and it is a bilingual military college and is a very good source of judges. In addition, even though Queen’s University is predominantly English, there are a lot of professors in the different science and engineering departments who can express themselves in both languages. According to the public survey (1995) presented above, a large proportion of the French community has a degree at the university level (34%) thus providing us with a good base of possible judges.
Historically, Kingston was originally a French area when the Comte de Frontenac founded a post (Fort Frontenac) and as mentioned earlier, the Kingston French community is very active. We have four French First Language schools (2 elementary schools and 2 high schools) and a number of French immersion schools. Students in these schools are all possible volunteers for CWSF 2001. Kingston also has many different French organizations in different domains including politics (ACFO Mille-Iles), social (Champlain, Queen’s French Centre, Alouette de Quinte Club), cultural (Frontenac Cultural Centre), youth (Kingston Optimist Club, Frontenac CFB Optimist Club, Octogone Club, Boy Scouts), daycare services (Croque Soleil, Beau Soleil, The Explorers, Les Frimousses), seniors (Âge de l’Avenir Senior Club), literacy (La route du Savoir), sciences (FL&A Science Fair, Accès-Science inc.) and arts and communications (Les Trétaux de Kingston theatrical company, La Bonne Franquette Productions, CFRC-FM 101,9, Francophone Choirs).
In conclusion, CWSF 2001 in Kingston will ensure that both francophones and anglophones feel welcome in our city and can express themselves in the language of their choice.