The originally-scheduled election for school board trustee for Viamonde Ward 3 — Centre on October 24, 2022 was voided due to candidate ineligibility. A by-election has been scheduled for January 23, 2023.
School Trustee Candidates
Alex Nanoff is a communications specialist and founder of the public affairs firm Liason Strategies. He is a Viamonde alumni, attending French schools in Toronto for both elementary and high school, and served as a student trustee while at North York’s Étienne-Brûlé secondary school. Nanoff’s campaign promises include electoral reform, improving course selection, and working with the provincial and federal governments to recruit French-speaking teachers from outside of Ontario and internationally to address the French teacher shortage. In an interview with The Local, Nanoff said that his first priority is the construction of a new elementary school in the east end, which he says is “desperately needed” given the overcrowding at current French elementary schools in the ward as well as Francophone immigration targets in the country. Nanoff says the proposed development of an elementary school in the Beaches’ Quarry lands, near the intersection of Victoria Park Ave. and Gerrard St. East, is of urgent importance due to the rarity of available land in the city.
Nanoff’s nomination and subsequent campaign were delayed due to an incorrect initial rejection of his candidacy, as per letters to the city clerk provided on Nanoff’s website. In an interview with The Local, Nanoff confirmed that this initial rejection was related to his status as a renter, which city officials told him meant he would have to file paperwork with MPAC that would likely not be approved until 2024. As per his website’s letters, Nanoff’s candidacy was approved on Dec. 21 2022 after he and a legal team from Ottawa challenged the decision.
Pierre Lermusieaux is a lawyer and founder of PNL Advocacy, a Toronto-based employment and human rights law firm. Lermusieaux has worked in French-language rights law since 2013, including on the legal team representing B.C.’s sole French school board and parents in their benchmark 2015 Supreme Court case and subsequent 2020 appeal for equal educational services based on charter rights to minority-language education. He is also a parent.
Lermusieaux is running on the promise of substantive equity for French school facilities, including campaigning to use the park across from Viamonde’s newly-acquired east-end high school as a school yard. If elected, Lermusieaux also says he will advocate for the construction of a new K-12 school that he told The Local would be “custom-built” for the post-COVID era to include an HVAC system and modern facilities. Lermusieaux’s platform also includes promises to create a human rights commissioner role to investigate complaints and “order corrective measures” in cases of discrimination. He says he is also committed to electoral reform, including repatriating the power to manage elections to Viamonde itself so the board can vet candidates and implement electronic voting to increase participation.
Serge Paul is a marketing professional currently working for TFO Média (a Franco-Ontarian public media company) on their educational platform IDELLO, which provides free French classroom resources to teachers. In October’s election, he ran for Viamonde trustee in the Durham region. He previously worked for Viamonde for 15 years as a community liaison agent and marketing leader. Paul told The Local the role involved spreading awareness of the school board itself and connecting French services and social programming from each region’s city to the curriculum. His platform points include improving mental health for Viamonde staff, which he says has been negatively impacted by the board’s teacher shortage. He also wants to spread awareness of Viamonde as a board, especially for newcomers to Canada, and promote inclusivity and multiculturalism within the board.
Mary Wood is a teacher and Viamonde parent, and currently teaches high school French and drama at The York School, a private school at Yonge and St. Clair. Wood, whose first language is French and who has been a teacher for 20 years, is campaigning on a platform of systemic transparency and being a bridge between the community and the Ontario public school system, especially for newcomers to Canada. In addition to teaching, Wood’s background is also in youth theatre festivals and programming, including as an education advisor for the Tarragon Theatre from 2000-2006.
Anna-Karyna Ruszkowski is chief risk officer at BMO Insurance and a Viamonde parent who has been active as an advocate in the French school community for the past six years. Ruszkowski ran for Viamonde trustee in 2018. She is campaigning on the promise of acquiring sustained funding from the Government of Ontario to ensure the equivalence of French and English schools, including green spaces, curriculum, and technological facilities. Ruszkowski’s other promises are to develop a recruitment and retention plan for more French-speaking staff, and address equity and inclusion by expanding EDI presentations to create awareness on both the school and board levels. In an interview with The Local, she said her campaign priorities include helping trustees acquire provincial funding for a new elementary school in the east end to address current overcrowding.
Richard Kempler is a businessperson, Viamonde parent, and founder of Fédération des gens d’affaires francophones de l’Ontario, a federation to support Franco-Ontarian businesses. Kempler is also the president and founder of Detroit Productions, an non-profit management and event company, and has volunteered for various Francophone organizations, including as chair of the board of Franco-Fête Toronto. His campaign platform includes putting equity and diversity “front and centre” in Viamonde, particularly through advocating for an official policy and increased transparency surrounding the board’s actions on EDI. He plans to negotiate with the province for more funding for teachers and school materials, and increasing resources for students’ mental health. Kempler is also campaigning on the promise of equitable resourcing for French schools, including more resources allocated per student compared to Anglophone schools to account for Francophone education’s minority status in the province. Kempler is also in favour of granting the board “unrestricted access” to Felstead Park as greenspace for the new Viamonde high school in the city’s east end.
Adrian Mansard is a former-IT professional turned full-time parent during the pandemic, as well as a former Viamode school council member. His platform includes improving the safety of neighbourhoods adjacent to schools by working with the city to improve the management of harm reduction centres, as well as advocating for exclusive and accessible use of Felstead Park. He aims to bridge divides between parents and education staff. In an interview with The Local, Mansard says he also wants more pandemic recovery efforts for French education, which he says was isolating and hindering children’s French education, and more follow-through for extra-curricular programs, like anti-bullying seminars. Mansard expressed a need for more organization within the community, including awareness of how to register to vote in French school board elections.
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