Court of Appeal confirms GNWT decision regarding admission of non-rights holders into NWT francophone schools

News Releases

Yellowknife — September 13, 2021

The recent Court of Appeal decision in A.B. & Commission Scolaire francophone (CSFTNO) v. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) has affirmed the decisions of the former Minister of ECE regarding access of non-rights holders to French First Language education.

The Court of Appeal’s decision of September 1, 2021 confirms that the Minister’s decisions regarding the entry of non-rights holders into NWT francophone schools in 2018 were reasonable and reinstates both ministerial decisions.

Although the French First Language Regulations were recently updated to increase clarity around the admission of non-rights holders, this decision further clarifies the role of the Minister in assessing admissibility of students to French First Language Education.

Minister Simpson intends to work with the CSFTNO to consider appropriate next steps to mitigate any potential educational impacts on the students and families involved.


“I appreciate the greater certainty and clarity provided by the recent Court of Appeals decision. Moving forward, I will continue to focus on building upon a renewed relationship with the Commission scolaire francophone des Territoires du Nord-Ouest surrounding admission of non-rights holders into the NWT’s francophone schools.”

- RJ Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment

Quick facts

  • Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms identifies that citizens of Canada, whose first language of English or French is a linguistic minority in the province or territory they reside, have the right to seek education for their children in that language. Parents who meet the requirements are referred to as rights-holders.
  • In 2018 the GNWT denied several non-rights holders entry into the Francophone school system.
  • A judicial review took place in May 2019 by Supreme Court Justice Rouleau, who ruled that while the Minister’s interpretation of the Directive was reasonable, the Minister erred by not considering whether the case presented factors and circumstances that could lead to exercising discretion.
  • After careful consideration, the GNWT appealed the decision in 2020. On September 1, 2021, the Court of Appeal allowed the GNWT’s appeal and set aside Rouleau’s decision.

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