Quebec City's solitary independent Protestant elementary and high school is growing, according to a report reprinted from Christian Renewal.
As secularism continues to run its course in Canada, many Christians are feeling more acutely the need for Christian schooling. So the announcement that a new building is being constructed for an independent Christian school community in Quebec City (elementary through high school) is good news for all those who believe in the benefits of children being taught by teachers dedicated to serving the Lord.
A recent groundbreaking ceremony took place March 29 in Quebec City’s northwest corner at 4690 Avenue, Chauveau. According to Evangelical Reformed (ERQ) church pastor Rev. Bernard Westerveld, who is also a member of the school board, “the building is to be completed just before Christmas 2021 – a nice Christmas gift,” with students returning to school in their new building in January of 2022.
The school (ecoleleauvive.com/en) is currently housed on land and property owned by the Chauveau Baptist Church. The church graciously sold land to the Christian school community for $500,000, which Westerveld said was “one-third of its municipal evaluation.” Additional property was purchased from the city.
The cost of the new building is estimated at $7.3 million.
Fundraising began six years ago, and while a good deal of the money still needs to be collected, what was raised – $1.2 million in gifts and $540,000 in personal loans – Westerveld explained, was a significant amount for a community not used to raising funds for its Christian school.
The fundraising effort was “a first in the history of the school,” said Westerveld. “The school budget has always operated on tuition and government subsidies, without annual fundraising. Things began slowly. In five years, we raised over $600,000. In June 2020, when we applied for a loan with CSS [Christian Stewardship Services] and a second financial partner, they required us to raise an addition $900,000 (gifts and personal loans).
“We wanted to break ground in 2021. We had six months to raise more than we had ever done before! In God’s gracious providence, the money did come in. We exceeded the $900,000 target! And gifts continue to arrive.”
Along with donations from a wide variety of sources, both individual and corporate, there were “uncounted hours of volunteer service,” he said. “One small gift came from a Grade Three student who gave Caroline Blanchet (school principal) a loonie ‘for the building project.’ ”
The school which goes by the French name École l’Eau-Vive (Living Water School) is not new. It began in the late 1970s “as a public protestant school in the French language, associated with the Chauveau Baptist Church, sharing its building with the school.
“With the deconfessionalization of all education, the government of Quebec stopped funding public confessional schools,” said Westerveld. “Our school was able to apply for and receive a permit to operate as a private school with an evangelical Christian education project. We have operated as a private Christian school since 2001.”
Growth in the student body resulted in the need for larger facilities.
École l’Eau-Vive is the only Christian school in Quebec City, The population of the city is 550,000. There are two Christian schools in Montreal (population 4 million), a drop in a large secular bucket. And home schooling, Westerveld says, faces a “significant challenge in the province of Quebec because of few resources in the French language and increasing government control. In short, there is a desperate need to develop more Christian educational options” in the province.
L’Eau-Vive is a member of the FÉÉP, a federation of private schools. Westerveld described it in this way: “While secular in its mandate, it includes several religious schools, particularly Catholic. The FÉÉP defends the right of our school to have a permit, even with our evangelical education project.
“We are not a member of any Christian school association,” he shared, delving into that history. “About three years ago, we began exploring the possibility of joining a Christian school association. The project is on hold because of the building project, and the need for our school to define its philosophy of education.
“A Christian school association exists in Europe for French-speaking schools; we are exploring the possibility of working collaboratively with them. On two occasions, a lead spokesperson of their organisation, Mr Luc Bussière, came to Quebec City to speak to our school. His articulation of a Reformed vision for Christian education was truly remarkable.”
The school has 400 students from kindergarten through high school (in Quebec, the last year of high school is equivalent to grade 11 in Ontario). Teachers and administration include some 50 individuals, along with principal Caroline Blanchet and two vice principals, Yvon Tessier and Richelle Wright.
Students come from approximately 35 different churches in the Quebec City area. They include Baptist, Pentecostal, Brethren, Reformed and independent.
“Since we are the only Christian school in Quebec City, the school is a significant rallying point for all evangelical believers in Quebec City,” says Westerveld.
Adapted with permission from the author. Photos courtesy L'Eau-Vive School. Reprinted with permission from Christian Renewal, May 1, 2021.