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Photo courtesy University of Sudbury

University of Sudbury rekindles French roots

  • March 19, 2021

In the midst of bankruptcy proceedings at Laurentian University, the University of Sudbury is going back to its francophone roots.

The Jesuit institution announced March 12 it intends to become a unilingual, francophone, post-secondary institution.

“Friday was a wonderful day for the Franco-Ontarian community and the University of Sudbury,” president and vice chancellor Fr. John Meehan told The Catholic Register.

The Jesuit founders of the University of Sudbury will work with the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario to ensure the college in the future will be run entirely in French by French-speaking administrators and professors, according to a statement from the AFO.

“The University of Sudbury and the AFO are extremely happy with this great news which will go down in Franco-Ontarian history in the north,” said the AFO statement in French. “The two partners strongly believe that the future of the University of Sudbury depends on the Francophonie and on management by, for and with (francophones).”

The University of Sudbury is the oldest of four colleges federated with Laurentian University. Laurentian sought creditor protection under the Canada’s Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act at the beginning of February and is expected to present a restructuring plan to get out of bankruptcy April 15.

“We should have more information (about the University of Sudbury’s francophone future) after April 15, when Laurentian is expected to unveil its restructuring plan that it will present to its many creditors,” Meehan wrote in an e-mail.

When Laurentian announced its bankruptcy, Meehan immediately sought to reassure students and faculty by explaining the University of Sudbury’s separate foundation.

“The University of Sudbury is a separate legal entity that manages its own financial and human resources, and we have not filed for creditor protection,” Meehan wrote in a message to the college community.

The University of Sudbury began in 1913 as Collège du Sacré-Coeur, a francophone academy that prepared young franco-Ontarian men for higher education. Under the care of the Quebec province of the Jesuits, it began granting its own university degrees in 1957.

When Laurentian University formed as a federation with Thornloe College (Anglican), the Université de Hearst (formerly the Séminaire de Hearst) and Huntington College (United Church) in the early 1960s, the University of Sudbury was the only federated college with its own classrooms. Other classes were held in the Steelworkers Hall.

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