Yellowknife’s Yvonne Careen has been named to an annual list of the 10 most influential people in the Canadian Francophonie.
Careen, superintendent of the NWT’s Commission scolaire francophone, appears in French-language media group Francopresse’s 2018 list for leading “15 years of struggle” to get new facilities built.
The 10 members of each year’s list are chosen by members of the francophone press outside Quebec.
In the most recent list, Careen is in the company of figures like Franco-Manitoban Métis activist Justin Johnson, Ontario pair Amanda Simard and Carol Jolin – who mobilized opposition to the new provincial government’s language policies – and Serge Brideau, New Brunswick frontman of rock group Les Hôtesses d’Hilaire.
Careen has spent years at the centre of a battle over facility provision for the NWT’s francophone schools.
In 2005, a group of parents took the territory to court and won the right to an expansion of Yellowknife’s École Allain St-Cyr. The case was reactivated in 2009, with the francophone community arguing that a promised second-phase expansion had never materialized.
The school’s new gymnasium, and associated facilities, finally enjoyed an official opening in November 2018 – after receiving $12.8 million in territorial funding plus a six-figure sum from community fundraising.
“It was a long haul,” Careen told CBC News at the time. “You have to be committed, you have to be dedicated.”
In naming Careen to its list, Francopresse said her school board’s “victory … may resonate in other provinces seeking new school facilities.”