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New Brunswick Association is Only Bilingual Province in Canada

By Cody Porter on April 09, 2018 hst Print

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles on the affiliate members of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Affiliate members have the right to participate in meetings and activities but without voting privileges or eligibility for elected or appointed offices or assignments.

Location: Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
Founded: 1926
Executive Director: Allyson Ouellette
Students: 16,000
Schools: 76
Sports: 16
Staff: 2
Phone: 506-457-4843
Website: nbiaa-asinb.org
Email: nbiaa@gnb.ca

The New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association (NBIAA) came into existence when the New Brunswick Education Institute assembled at its biennial meeting in Fredericton, New Brunswick, June 28-30, 1926.

Unlike several of its Canadian counterparts, New Brunswick has the highest percentage of people outside of Quebec who speak French. According to the Canadian Constitution, English and French are both official languages of New Brunswick, making it the only recognized bilingual province.

Of the NBIAA’s 76-member schools (public and private), 22 are francophone (French-speaking schools). Given that fact, the 16-sport association is presented its challenges as all information provided to members must be in both official languages. This policy was adopted at the 2016 NBIAA Annual General Meeting, according to NBIAA Executive Director Allyson Ouellette.

Organizationally, the NBIAA is supported by its executive committee, which has one representative per each of its three classifications in each of its four conferences. Representatives tabbed to be a part of the executive committee must be principals or teachers who are full-time employees.

The smallest of the NFHS affiliates in Canada, Ouellette said the NBIAA is also “quite different financially with respect to our size and overall budget.”

“The association is funded through funds from member schools, as well as a grant provided by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development,” Ouellette said. “The grant would represent approximately 20 percent of our overall operating budget.”

The NBIAA boasts student participation of about 15,000, which includes 6,630 in girls sports and 7,038 in boys sports. Its largest school – placed in its highest classification of AAA (grades 9-12) – has more than 1,800 students. In contrast, the NBIAA’s smallest school has 25 students.

Ouellette said soccer is the association’s most popular sport, featuring 3,000 total participants; volleyball is in second with 2,300 participants. In the past 10 years, the NBIAA has tracked an increase in participation numbers for field hockey, football, rugby and volleyball. Ouellette added that sports seeing a decline include badminton, cheerleading, cross country, golf and wrestling.

Ouellette noted that many of the NBIAA’s 16 sports are impacted by weather within its three seasons of play. They have had heavy rain causing issues for cross country championships in October, all the way to snow causing issues for the badminton provincials in April. Ouellette said teams seem to be constantly rescheduling games due to weather conditions.

“Among some of the differences from sport offerings in the states would be that we offer separate male and female hockey teams,” Ouellette said. “Football, baseball and golf are co-ed sports in our province, meaning females can participate with the males on the team; softball and field hockey are for females only. We encourage females to participate on female teams, but we also allow them to try out for the male teams, even if their school has a female team.”

Until two years ago, the NBIAA featured some parallels to the NFHS in offering a coach certification course. Ouellette said its one area that the association is looking to address soon, having been collaborating with Coach NB (New Brunswick) and Coaches Association of Canada (CAC) to launch a new NBIAA Coach Certification course online in fall 2018. The CAC’s “Making Head Way” concussion course is required for all NBIAA coaches in select sports.

In addition to its coach certification course, Ouellette said moving forward the NBIAA is looking to improve upon “modifications to our transfer rules, sport safety and concussions, player eligibility (the province uses the student’s grade, rather than their age), and student-athlete and coach code of conduct.”