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Italian language program at York Catholic District School Board gets funding boost from province

About 6,000 students participate in program offered at 21 elementary schools
Nov. 16, 2023

The International Language Extended Day Program at York Catholic District School Board just got a boost from the Ontario government.

The province is investing $350,000 to support the Italian language program for YCDSB elementary school students in the 2023-2024 school year.

The most recent Statistics Canada data from 2021 indicates over 145,000 York Region residents are of Italian ethnic and cultural origin.

“This underlines the critical importance of preserving the Italian language program, particularly in light of the removal of the long-standing contribution from the Centro Scuola,” according to the province.

The government funding will “bridge the gap” to give students the opportunity to participate in the program for the school year.

“For generations, Italian Canadians worked hard to build our country,” said Stephen Lecce, minister of education and MPP for King--Vaughan. “I made a commitment to never forget the sacrifices of our parents and grandparents, and to honour our heritage. That is why, as the son of immigrants, I am proud to be delivering funding that will protect Italian language education for children in King--Vaughan and across York Region. It is our government that is investing to ensure children learn Italian language, so the next generation of ‘Italo-Canadians’ can preserve our rich linguistic and cultural history.”

The International Language Extended Day Program for Italian is offered at 21 elementary schools in YCDSB, with about 6,000 students enrolled. The program gives students the opportunity to learn the Italian language and about Italian culture. It has been offered by YCDSB since the early 1980s.

“Helping Ontarians of all backgrounds connect to their cultures, traditions and languages is one of the most important things we can do to promote mental wellness,” said Michael Tibollo, MPP for Vaughan--Woodbridge. “Providing children in our community the opportunity to learn Italian in school will help strengthen the bonds between generations and allow everyone in York Region to experience this beautiful language.”

School boards all over Ontario that offer international and Indigenous language programs receive annual funding from the Ministry of Education. YCDSB is expected to receive $1.8 million during the 2023-2024 school year for the elementary school allocation for language programs.