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Our Story

Academic Excellence, Whole-Student Development, International Mindset.


For over 50 years, Calgary French & International School (previously known as The Calgary French School), has prepared children to embrace the world around them and be active participants in it. It was Calgary’s first French Immersion school and established its French language program prior to the Royal Commission that led to the federal policy of official bilingualism. CFIS now educates over 780 children from junior preschool to Grade 12. The school offers an immersive French language learning environment that inspires children's unique curiosity and exploration of the world around them.

When the federal government established the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism in 1963, Canada embarked on a new awareness of the need for bilingualism. This resulted in two important events in September 1969: the passing of the Official Languages Act and the founding of the Calgary French School.

While French immersion schools were almost unheard of at that time, a group of Calgary mothers – M. Jane Carrothers, Therese M. Lebel, Louise Moore, and Mary Leeds Stapleton – came together to respond to some of the Commission’s findings in their own practical way. Those parents were. Their solution was to establish a school that could teach young Anglophone children in an all-French environment.

The Early Years

With select available resources on bilingual education, the founding mothers of CFIS created the first curriculum and school programs. Their early efforts created a foundation for learning as the importance of bilingualism and second language acquisition was still developing. They were pioneers a time when educational and neurological research was only beginning to show the benefits of early second-language development. Coupling a well-rounded student development approach and a strong academic foundation, programming at The Calgary French School was established as a truly immersive environment.

Early school classrooms were formed in church basements and the like, moving periodically and eventually finding a home in a shared space at Sacred Heart School in 1974. The early years of The Calgary French School saw consistent growth in both student numbers and scholarly reputation. With time, the school community began to look for a space to grow into. In late 1999, the school was housed in a shared space that was reclaimed by its owners, and the community started a campaign to raise funds to buy land and build a top-notch facility. 

A New School

On September 2, 2003, over 440 students were welcomed to a new building in the southwest Calgary community of Cougar Ridge. The facility was designed as a community space that now includes two gymnasiums, playgrounds and outdoor spaces to welcome families from across the city of Calgary. The $20 million, 120,000 square foot, 30-classroom building represented the school’s foundation for the future, and a new name — Calgary French & International School — better reflected its mission to educate global citizens.

By 2006, another wing with 13 classrooms was added for secondary students, and Calgary French & International School (coming to be known as CFIS) was officially recognized at the provincial level as strategically important to language education in Western Canada. In 2010, we celebrated with the first Grade 12 graduating class. 

Celebrating 55 Years of Immersion Education

In the 2024-25 school year, CFIS celebrates its 55th anniversary of educating tomorrow's leaders in a full French immersion setting. CFIS is now a Round Square school and a member of the UNESCO School Network. Our global education see students travel worldwide on service and exchange trips, as well as conferences. In 2019, we obtained our International Baccalaureate (IB) authorization for the Diploma Programme and now offer high school students a full French IB diploma option. As we look forward to being a full IB continuum school, we celebrated becoming a candidate school for the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) in 2022, and are on track to offer the Middle Years Programme (MYP) by 2025.

Calgary French & International School is recognized among Canada's best elementary and secondary education institutions as a Canadian Accredited Independent School. We graduate students fluent in French, English and Spanish, so they have more options to attend the post secondary school of their choice. Our alumni have attended universities throughout North America and abroad to study business, law, engineering, journalism, science, education, the culinary arts, and music. 

Learn more about full French immersion education at CFIS by contacting our Admissions team at