Roger Paul has worked tirelessly to protect and develop Francophone communities in Ontario and across the country. As a young teacher in Timmins, he became involved with the Franco-Ontarian Teachers’ Association. On his return to Ottawa, he was appointed to a series of school principal positions. When French-language school boards were being established, he was named a manager in the Ontario Ministry of Education. In 2001, he became superintendent, and then, director general, of a school board in Eastern Ontario, responsible for passing on the French language and culture to over 14,000 students in more than 40 schools. In 2009, he became director of the Fédération nationale des conseils scolaires francophones (FNCSF) and the Regroupement national des directions générales en éducation (RNDGÉ), positions he held for nearly a decade. In a career spanning over 40 years, Roger Paul has both witnessed and played a part in key milestone moments in the education sector, including the implementation of school management “by and for” Francophones and Acadians, the recognition and implementation of the right to increased operational funding to ensure substantive equivalence for French-language education, and more.
As executive director of the FNCSF, he mobilized both political and legal actors. He received the support of distinguished jurists such as the Honorable Michel Bastarache, CC, and QC. Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, the Conservative Party of Canada and the federal New Democratic Party have all supported his efforts. When it comes to education, he has also been able to rely on the support of the previous and current federal commissioners of official languages, Graham Fraser and Raymond Théberge. Roger Paul and the FNCSF based their strategy to promote the constitutional rights of French-language minorities on five principles: substantive equivalence, including in capital assets; the right to manage infrastructure; the right to exclusive infrastructure; the right to decide which children to admit to French-language schools outside Quebec; and francization programs in early childhood. He managed to negotiate and sign an unprecedented strategic agreement between the Canadian government and the FNCSF to modernize, and in particular, properly oversee, transfers of hundreds of millions of dollars by the federal government to provincial and territorial governments aimed at improving the quality of education offered by French-language school boards to over 165,000 students in more than 700 schools across Canada (outside Quebec). In 2018, the RNDGÉ awarded him the Prix Edgar-Gallant for his impact on the French-language education community.
Roger Paul has done everything to contribute to an outstanding educational network for French-language minorities across the country and to the recognition of these communities’ constitutional rights. Through his resilience and combative spirit, he has helped defend and advance the status of French in Canada, leaving a strengthened, growing education sector, not just in Eastern Ontario, but also throughout Canada.