Six-year-old Kyrin Graham is looking forward to Carnival.
The Grade 1 student at Ecole Millstream elementary in Langford plans to be up early on Friday (Jan. 23) so he can volunteer at the annual event along with his mother, Lia, who makes pancakes as part of this celebration of the French Canadian culture they both value so much.
“I think (Carnival) brings the French program and the English program closer, because it’s something that French Canadians celebrate and is huge within that community,” Lia said. “Having English students and everyone celebrate together brings it back to community.”
Among the highlights of Carnival are a visit by an expert in making maple syrup taffy, performances of traditional French-Canadian music, ice carving and the school-wide pancake breakfast to start the day.
Engagement with such culture was an important factor in the choice to enrol Kyrin in a French immersion school, said Lia, who does not speak the language at home.
School principal Julia Sahota said she is proud to provide that opportunity.
“We take for granted children don’t have all the experiences and exposure to all the things we are (as a nation),” she said. “The more we can expose them to things in their country and the cultures within their country, the better it is.”
Having grown up in Ontario, Sahota experienced firsthand tree-tapping for maple syrup and the other activities featured at Carnival. She hopes to provide a piece of that culture for the approximately 200 students and their families this Friday.
“It is a really fun celebration for students because, one, they all love eating pancakes, and two, they don’t know as much about French-Canadian culture,” she said. “It’s a part of every Canadian’s culture.”
Sahota said the excitement over the event is not only running through the school’s two French immersion classes – Kindergarten-Grade 1 and Grade 1-2 splits. “They haven’t had something like that, where they have all sat down as a community and broke bread together. The other part for me is that kids have that experience. It’s not all about books and reading and writing, it is about experiencing their lives in different ways, too. That’s what is really important.”