Kids take French to Victoria airwaves

Trio of students from Ecole Bayside Middle School lead new teen program.

Edouard and Alex Arthur

A trio of teenagers from Ecole Bayside Middle School are trying to reach their peers by speaking their language.

French, that is.

This week, Grade 7 students Edouard and Alex Arthur and Rylee Phillips will be featured on Victoria French community radio station CILS 107.9 FM in a new 30-minute segment called Ca Roule (Let’s Roll, in English). It’s a program designed in partnership with Canadian Parents for French, Saanich Chapter, to try to bring the language to more area students.

Four programs have been completed, featuring the thee student interviewers who talked to adults within the local French-speaking community. Rylee, a big fan of women’s rugby, was overjoyed when she had the chance to interview members of the Canadian National Women’s Rugby Team.

“It was cool,” she said. “It was a lot of work but it was fun to record our work and use different technologies.”

Alex, for example, interviewed a Cuban saxophone player from Victoria over Skype while the musician was abroad.

Both Alex and Edouard, who are brothers, also reviewed some video games. Their mom, Sandra, said the programs are geared towards teens, with a focus on things they enjoy — from music and games to culture and more.

There’s a focus on French and Quebecois music from Canada and around the world. The hope is more youth will hear it and become interested in what’s out there. Each show will also have jokes, reviews and more.

The idea, she continued, started late last year, when she and Rylee’s mom, Andrea Calder, started talking about ways to expose more youth to French — especially those in French immersion programs who might not get regular exposure to the language outside of school. Calder is also the president of the local chapter of Canadian Parents for French.

Sandra said her own family moved to the Island a few years ago from Paris. While her sons are fluent in French, they don’t hear a lot of it outside of Bayside school.

Andrea noted they connected with the radio station and they agreed to host the show — four episodes — with the potential to expand it once school resumes in September. The first program was set to air Tuesday, May 10 (3:30 p.m.) and repeated on Saturday, May 14 (12:30 p.m.). The shows will air every Tuesday and repeat on Saturday. They can also be heard on CILS’s SoundCloud at any time.

Alex and Edouard’s dad Richard composed and recorded Ca Roule’s jingle — and also did all of the segment editing for the junior reporters and produced each show. Each 30-minute program will be emceed by Henri de Boever, a University of Victoria student.

Andrea said the program is just getting off the ground and is using French immersion students from Bayside in School District 63 (Saanich). If the idea catches hold with other students, it could be expanded into District 61 and 62 in Greater Victoria. She added it is open for all students to get involved — not just those in French immersion programs.

Learn more about Canadian Parents for French by emailing CPF.Saanich@gmail.com.