The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary came to Manitoba in 1874 to teach at St. Mary’s Academy, the first Catholic school in the diocese for anglophones.
Nevertheless, they had not forgotten their francophone roots. In addition to English classes, the students were also offered French classes. On formal occasions, speeches were given in both languages.
In 1886, the sisters responded to the request to open the first French school outside the city, in Saint-Pierre-Jolys. Shortly thereafter, other rural French schools were created: Saint-Jean-Baptiste (1895), Sainte-Agathe (1899) and Somerset (1952). In 1898, the SNJM sisters took over the management of Académie St-Joseph, (Saint Boniface Convent), founded by the Grey Nuns.
When the teaching of French was formally forbidden in 1916, the sisters continued to teach it clandestinely. They took care to hide the French textbooks when government inspectors visited.
This approach allowed the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) to play an important role in the development of French immersion education in Manitoba. When teaching French was re-authorized in classrooms in the 1970s, the École Sacré-Cœur, run by the SNJM since 1905, was at the forefront of the movement in terms of French classes. In 1973, it became the first French immersion school in Manitoba. (Consult the PDF file of an article published in French only)
History demonstrates the tremendous influence of religious congregations such as the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in maintaining Manitoba’s francophone and bilingual communities.
Consult the PDF file of an article published in French only.