The gift of a second language is a window into a new world, bringing into focus a wealth of conversation, information, and a greater global understanding of the world we live in.
Gil Vicente Portuguese School was founded in September of 1971 with a group of about ten students. In October of 1972, with the encouragement of the Portuguese Counsel in Vancouver, Dr. João Valadas, the school continued with 25 students. In June of 1973, the school was recognized by the Portuguese government and the students were able to write exams which were recognized in Portugal.
With immigration still open to Portuguese families arriving in Canada, interest in the school grew within the community. The number of students reached its peak in 1982/1983 with approximately 200 students. They comprised 8 classes of various grade levels.
Over the years, due to changes in the government in Portugal and improvements to the standards of living, there was a slow decline in families immigrating to Canada. Those that were already here became more integrated within the Canadian culture and the number of students attending Portuguese School declined.
In recent years the interest in learning the Portuguese language has begun increasing once again. The number of students remains consistent with approximately 100. This is believed to be a result of our Portuguese 15, 25 & 35 credit courses along with changes to the Alberta Learning Standards. Students and the community at large are beginning to become more aware of the importance of a second language, not only for family relationships, but for professional advantages as well.