In early summer representatives of the federal government, the Province of Alberta, the City of Edmonton, and the University of Alberta gathered together with members of Alberta's francophone community to help Faculté Saint-Jean celebrate something old and something new.
On 24 May, the Faculté opened its new Saint-Jean Residence Centre, the culmination of an $8.5-million project that involved the construction of a new student residence and the transformation of the old residence, built in 1911, into an academic and cultural centre.
"It's been a labour of love," said Claudette Tardif, '68 B Ed, '78 MEd, '84 PhD, the Faculté's dean, at the opening ceremonies. "We've linked the past with the future. By preserving the old building we allow students to experience the rich cultural history associated with the Faculté."
The new residence was designed, in the dean's words, to provide "a warm atmosphere to maintain, improve, or learn French." Common areas, including kitchens, living rooms, and patios provide ample opportunities for exchanges and dialogues among students.
Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, who took part in the opening festivities, spoke about the Faculté's role in Alberta's historic cultural diversity. "This new residence, and the Faculté itself," said the premier, "speak well of the wonderful diversity of language and culture that exists here in Alberta. That diversity is part of who we are as a province. It's an integral part of Alberta's history, and it's at the heart of what makes Alberta strong."
The construction of the historic building was generously supported by the Government of Canada, the Province of Alberta, the University of Alberta, and by Alberta's francophone community.
Among the dignitaries attending the opening, in addition to Klein, were federal Minister of Justice Anne McLellan, President of the Queen's Privy Council and federal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Stephane Dion, University of Alberta Vice-President (Academic) Doug Owram, and Edmonton Mayor Bill Smith.
Published Autumn 2001.