In 1977, Keith Spicer was serving as Canada’s first-ever Commissioner of Official Languages. Interested in the bilingualism of Canada’s youth, he met with groups of parents across Canada who wanted their children to learn French as a second language (FSL) but who ran into roadblocks at the local school board.
To get the ball rolling, Mr. Spicer offered to find some seed money—enough to organize a national conference of like-minded parents. The result was an event called “Parents’ Conference on French Language and Exchange Opportunities,” which took place in Ottawa in March of 1977. It was during this weekend-long conference that Canadian Parents for French was officially founded as a volunteer-based advocacy group, a collective of parents who wanted to ensure that children would have the opportunity to become bilingual in the Canadian school system.
The first conference determined a few things that are fundamental to the history of CPF. The group outlined its goals and elected its first National Board of Directors, led by inaugural president Pat Webster of Ontario. Her fellow directors were Judith Madley (British Columbia), David Saunders (Prairie Region), Elizabeth Annesley (Quebec), and Mary Lou Morrison (Atlantic Region).
This original small group of concerned parents who met in Ottawa over 30 years ago has evolved into a proactive national network with 11 Branch offices and some 150 Chapters in communities coast to coast to coast.