Grand finalist
J. H. Sissons student Montreal bound

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife ( May 12/00) - It seems that Jill Gilday's French immersion classes have pad off.

The Grade 5 J.H. Sissons student will join 104 other finalists from as far away as Haiti for a French diction contest on Sunday, May 14 in Montreal.

The Dictee Paul Gerin-Lajoie is an annual competition that this year, culled its participants from 168,816 French and French immersion students in Canada and the United States and 90,394 French-speaking students from Third World countries.

The contest was named after the Quebec Minister of Education, Paul Gerin-Lajoie, who held office during the Quiet Revolution of the '60s and was instrumental in advancing French language rights in Quebec schools.

"What we do is two things," explained Andre Dumont, press secretary for the dictee.

"To make sure students have good written French and to teach Canadian children of the realities (of) education for children in the Third World."

The search for finalists for the contest began in January and involved 1,406 French and French immersion schools in 35 regions across Canada and the United States.

Eleven-year-old Gilday was selected as a finalist in the French Immersion program and will represent the NWT, Nunavut and the Yukon.

"I wrote a dictee between the two Grade 5 classes here (J.H. Sissons) and I won," said Gilday, explaining how her meteoric rise to the top in French diction for the territories began.

Gilday said she is excited about going because of the experience of visiting a new place.

"I've never been to Quebec," she said. "I want to go to the Biosphere and the Notre Dame Cathedral."

Her proud mom, Pam Dunbar, said it was all thanks to her teacher, Marie-Francoise Le Doze, that the trip was made possible.

"She practised twice a week at school with her teacher, who put in so much extra time."

The final contest will be broadcast on the French CBC network Sunday, May 28. Each finalist will receive a certificate of excellence and several participation prizes offered by their sponsors.

The winner will receive a full set of sports equipment of his or her choice, valued at $1,500.