Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

First Steps: Bozidar Vidov and the Early Croatian Language Schools in Canada

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

First Steps: Bozidar Vidov and the Early Croatian Language Schools in Canada

Article excerpt


Bozidar Vidov (1913-2000) was a key figure in establishing and supporting Croatian language schools prior to the adoption of the federal policy of multiculturalism and before provincial support for heritage language programs. He helped to organize Toronto's Croatian Elementary School Abroad in 1961, and he prepared and published the first generation of textbooks used by Croatian heritage language schools and for home schooling by parents from smaller communities where schools were not yet established. In 1964 he enunciated his vision of a Federation of Croatian Elementary Schools that would coordinate and support the scattered language schools. Through his publishing activities, promotion of schools, and efforts to coordinate and facilitate an exchange of approaches and best practices among teachers, Vidov helped to build the early institutional foundation of Croatian heritage language schools serving children of parents who belonged to the third wave of immigration to Canada.


Boris Vidov (1913-2000) fut une des principales personnalites qui a mis en place et consolide les ecoles de langue croate avant l'adoption de la politique federale du multiculturalisme et le soutien provincial aux programmes de langues d'origine. En 1961, il aida a organiser l'Ecole elementaire d'outre-mer de langue croate a Toronto, et il a prepare et publie les premiers manuels scolaires qui ont servi dans les autres etablissements de meme type et, dans les communautes plus petites qui n'en avaient pas encore, aux parents faisant l'instruction a la maison. En 1964, il exposa son projet de coordonner et de soutenir les ecoles elementaires croates dispersees en une Federation. Vidov a joue un r61e editorial, a promu les ecoles et s'est efforce de coordonner et de faciliter un echange de points de vue et de meilleures pratiques pedagogiques entre les enseignants. Il a ainsi aide a jeter les premieres fondations institutionnelles de l'enseignement du et en croate au service d'enfants dont les parents faisaient partie de la troisieme vague d'immigration au Canada.


The introduction of the federal policy of multiculturalism within a bilingual framework in 1971, followed by the establishment of heritage language programs at the provincial level (1977 in Ontario), greatly assisted ethnocultural communities in developing and building institutions that would support language retention for subsequent decades. A decisive factor in the systematic development of a network of Croatian language schools in Canada, and in Ontario in particular, was also the establishment in 1974 of Hrvatske izvandomovinske skole Amerike i Kanade--Croatian Schools of America and Canada (HISAK-CSAC). (1)

The purpose of HISAK-CSAC was to support existing language schools, establish new schools, coordinate and develop a common curriculum framework, organize teacher training seminars, publish textbooks and manuals, and produce audio tapes and other teaching aids for use in classes across Canada, the United States, and eventually the entire diaspora (Krasic 1978, 2-4; Krasic 1999, 54-61). HISAK- CSAC took an "integrative, functional, pragmatic, and contextual" approach to the learning/teaching process that entailed "all three settings: family, school, and visits to Croatia" (Krasic 1984-85,230). One school that enjoyed strong community support and became self-reliant very early on was the Croatian language school in Toronto (est. 1961). Since this school operated successfully for more than a decade before Ontario introduced its heritage language program in 1977, it was accepted as one of the pilots of the Toronto public school system (Bubrin 1994, 103-4).

The formation and expansion of Croatian heritage language schools and the support they received from HISAK-CSAC have garnered attention in studies by its long-rime director Ljubo Krasic, as well as shorter informative pieces collected in the 1994 book Unknown Journey: A History of Croatians in Canada (Sopta and Scardellato 1994) and in several issues of the periodical Gaudeamus (1993-94), published by the Association of Alumni and Friends of Croatian Universities. …

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