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This article was published 6/5/2016 (1256 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Rochelle Squires has hired a French tutor —- and she'll pay most of the cost out of her own pocket.
"I am someone who has overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges," said Squires Friday.
"I've hired a tutor —- my lessons begin this week," Squires said in an interview Friday in her new office as minister of sport, culture and heritage, and minister responsible for francophone affairs and the status of women.
"Up to $1,000 is coming out of the secretariat budget," and Squires will pay at least that much herself.
"I asked the tutor to start at level zero," said Squires, who has only junior high basic French.
There has been some criticism of Squires, and of Premier Brian Pallister's having chosen a unilingual minister for the role. But several Francophone organizations told the Free Press earlier this week that how Squires does her job is more important than her lack of language skills.
"I'm very grateful to the people who have reached out to me," she said Friday.
"My tutor recommended we have an uninterrupted work environment," said Squires, who opted for her home as a better chance of having two hours without interruption at each session —- despite the presence of her husband, four kids, and a dog.
"For me, the challenge is going to be enunication... and being intimidated by fluent speakers," Squires said. "This is a life experience for me —- what an opportunity to immerse myself in the cutlure. It's my practice, personally and professionally, when I go into someone else's culture, I like to have a greeting."
Squires said that her husband's family is second-generation Canadians from Belgium, but she has picked up only small amounts of French by being with them. She's hoping her mother-in-law helps with her French-language education.
She thanked Pallister for the chance: "The premier has just an immense amount of confidence in me," said Squires.