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Byron Etchegary

BECOMING A FRENCH TEACHER AND LIVING AND WORKING IN NUNAVUT’S CAPITAL CITY: IQALUIT.

TESTIMONIAL BY BYRON ETCHEGARY

Becoming a French teacher was a natural fit after spending time in St. Pierre & Miquelon. The French Islands are just off the coast of the Burin Peninsula and the small town of Lawn where I grew up. Having close friends in St. Pierre allowed me to travel back and fourth several times a year giving me lots of practice with the standard French spoken there. People in St. Pierre are really nice and their French is perfect.

I first realized that I wanted to be a French teacher after taking French 1050 AND 1051 at Memorial University. French professors would often tell me I had a good accent and that I should pursue French as an area of study. This is what motivated me to complete a major in French and then apply to the Education Faculty at Memorial. The one-year, three-semester program was great and before I knew it I was applying for teaching positions in Newfoundland schools.

Choosing French as an area of study was a wise choice on my behalf. After graduating in the fall of 2002, I was employed as a French Teacher in various positions across Newfoundland until the winter of 2005 when I applied outside the province. French Teacher positions have always been plentiful in Newfoundland schools and across Canada. I guess there are not that many people out there who are qualified to teach French. That’s another good reason to apply to the Faculty of Education at Memorial.

After working in various teaching positions in Newfoundland, I came to Iqaluit in January of 2005 and accepted a 6-month term teaching position at Aqsarniit Middle School. This eventually led to me signing on for much longer. At Aqsarniit, students can choose Core French, Intensive French or Inuktitut as their second language option. I’ve been teaching Core French since arriving here in 2005.

I had no idea of what life would be like in Nunavut’s largest and Canada’s newest capital city. I soon discovered that Iqaluit is a culturally and linguistically rich city with people from all walks of life. The three main languages spoken here are French, English and Inuktitut. People from other parts of Canada are always surprised to learn that I’m a French teacher from Newfoundland. I always chuckle when they say “What, you’re a Newfie French Teacher”. There are lots of things to do and see here in Iqaluit. For those who like the outdoors, there’s snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, hiking, fishing and of course hunting. Iqaluit also has a vibrant social scene and there are lots of new and interesting people here to meet.

Studying French at Memorial was the best decision I’ve ever made. I would recommend the Education Program to anyone with a sense of adventure and a willingness to teach today’s youth one of our country’s official languages.

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