March 1988. It all began at an OMLTA conference in Toronto with a simple little business card in hand but in my heart the desire and will to share a dream: give students an opportunity to enjoy an authentic French immersion experience in the beautiful village of Saint-Donat.
Since then more than 100,000 students, teachers, administrators and parents have ventured to discover a new world.
Yes, and again this year nearly 3000 students came to experience and imprint in their mind the magic of their adventures in Saint-Donat. The distances they travelled: from Sudbury in the North, from Sarnia and Windsor, Toronto, Whitby, Oshawa and Ottawa. They spent so many hours in a highway coach (14 hours for some). For many teachers, it was their thirtieth visit!
On the Upper Grand District School Board web site, the following testimony attests to the respect the Perspectives Saint-Donat program has inherited and the effect it has had on Ontario students.
‘The program is so successful with our schools, that this is the reason I, and my teacher team, keep returning year after year. We see our students prosper and it’s all worth the organization and some missed hours of sleep.’ Christina
Christina is a teacher and consultant who has been coming for many, many years
This recognition is a testimony to the hard work, to the quality of services that can be found in Saint-Donat. That is why my daughter, Heather, and I are choosing this moment to show our appreciation towards you, the population of Saint-Donat, who accepted throughout these years to offer our clients hospitality services whether for rooms, kitchen, dining room or other maintenance area services.
Your devotion allowed our clients to feel at home, away from home. Regardless of the area of services, each one is as important as the other. Without your cooperation, it would not have been possible to offer such a quality program.
We especially wish to thank the Management and the Personnel at l’Etoile du Nord, the Personnel and ski and snowboard instructors and Administration at Mont Garceau for your continued collaboration and participation.
Our fondest thoughts also go to the Medical and Paramedical services of the local clinic for their professionalism. A heartfelt thank you for all your TLC. We wish to reaffirm our appreciation to the Municipality and its Personnel. Your collaboration, your sense of hospitality has printed lasting memories in the minds of our young clients who will, undoubtedly, wish to come back to Saint-Donat someday as adults to enjoy the joys of winter and to appreciate the beautiful natural surroundings.
For so many of these students, it was their first attempt at winter sports of alpine skiing or snowboarding; it was an opportunity to learn much more than physical and sport skills. The students and teachers discovered the magic of the Québec culture and language as well as learned values of patience, tolerance, sharing and friendship. The following testimony from a parent upon the return of her son is a revealing tribute:
‘My son has shown increasing interest in languages in recent years so the trip seemed like a good opportunity for him….I was delighted to see him come home last night not only excited about the skiing and expressing confidence in his French skills, but also having made new friends! I was thrilled to hear that he not only managed but thrived on the trip. He can now think in French. He has an appreciation for a different culture ….. and he has increased confidence in his ability to manage in different situations.’
The whole village because of your partnership with us, you communicate these values to our students when you allow them to visit your business or when you help them out on the street by answering their questions.
These spontaneous acts of generosity can appear trivial to you but it is these gestures that help students gain confidence with the desire to attempt to speak French which is an opportunity not necessarily given to them at home. Without your continued welcome, this dream would not have become reality
So… Thank you, Saint Donat! Looking forward to the 31st with you in 2020
Clare Linton, President
Heather Depew, General Manager