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Grande Prairie

Community Profile:

Grande Prairie is located in northwestern Alberta, in the heart of the Peace Region, and is the largest city North of Edmonton. The city and surrounding region have a diverse economic portfolio. The region's strong agriculture, forestry, oil and gas, and retail sectors provide many well paying local jobs. Grande Prairie's economic diversity supports the city's long-term growth, and allows it to escape the boom-and-bust cycle that often afflicts resource producing areas. 
 
Grande Prairie is one of the youngest and fastest growing cities in Canada. A strong, well-educated labour force in the city and surrounding regions provides the foundation for economic growth and prosperity. 
 
According to the 2011 official census, Grande Prairie has a population of 55,032. With the fast pace of economic growth and abundance of job opportunities here, the city attracts young talent from all over Canada and beyond. The population increased by 15.9% between 2006 and 2011, making Grande Prairie the 7th fastest-growing city in Canada.
  • Annual Growth Rates
    • 2006–2011:   3.17% 
    • 2001–2011:   4.05%
    • 2001–2006:   4.94%
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (August 2013)
  • Apartment Vacancy Rate (Spring 2013): 0.9% 
Grande Prairie is sometimes known as the "Swan City." The trumpeter swan was chosen as the official symbol due to the city’s proximity to the swans’ migration route and summer nesting grounds. 
 
The dinosaur has emerged as an unofficial symbol of the city as a result of paleontology discoveries in the area west of Grande Prairie.
  • The City of Grande Prairie is becoming increasingly diverse as people from all over Canada and the world arrive in northern Alberta looking for new opportunities.
  • English as an additional language (EAL) learners come from more than 50 countries.
 

English Language Learner Support Services:

ELL Classes
Our Family English class had 21 pre-school-aged children enrolled in the program, and 45 parents. Many participants moved up a Canadian Language Benchmark during their period of study. 
Our IELTS class ran in the summer, and two learners successfully passed the exam. 
Our Workplace English class included 36 learners, three of whom improved their language skills to the level needed to qualify for government funding and full-time studies in the International Education Centre ESL program at GPRC.
Class List
  • Family English Program with on-site child care two days a week (part-time)
  • EAL Workplace English Program with on-site child care three days a week (part-time)
  • ELL Family Literacy English Group one morning a week (parent–child)
  • English in the Workplace (offered on a need basis)
  • IETLS prep course (offered on a need basis)
Other community ELL Classes:
  • LINC RDP Program two full days a week
  • GP Public Library – Conversation Class one evening a week
 

Community Challenges:

Housing – The vacancy rate in Grande Prairie is 0.9%, making it very difficult for people (especially newcomers) to find housing. 
 
ESL Full-Time Program – Due to budget constraints, the ESL full-time program shut its doors last year. However the need for an ESL full-time program still exists within our ESL population.
 
Language – Issues arise around health care, schooling, and employment because of low English language abilities. 
 
ESL in Schools – Schools are finding it difficult to support children and their families, as they have little knowledge and/or experience when it comes to ESL. 
 
Temporary Foreign Workers – No community support system is in place to support TFWs. 
 
Shortage of Instructors/Tutors – There are not enough people in the community to help with everyday language and with community assimilation. 
 
The Grande Prairie Council for Lifelong Learning supports many programs and agencies. We have a Community Adult Learning Council, Volunteer Tutor Adult Program, Family Literacy Program, and Granting Council. Our partners include the Grande Prairie Centre for Newcomers, City of Grande Prairie, Public Library, Welcoming and Inclusive Committee, L’ACFA, Alberta Human Services, Alberta Health Services, Alberta Law Foundation, Public and Catholic school districts, as well as many other community support services and agencies.
 
Access to post-secondary education: 
  • Grande Prairie Regional College
  • GPRC – Fairview Campus
  • Northern Lakes College 
In 2012–2013, the Community Adult Learning Council helped 1,036 learners improve their life, literacy, and employability skills.
 

Community Support:

The Grande Prairie Council for Lifelong Learning supports many programs and agencies. We have a Community Adult Learning Council, Volunteer Tutor Adult Program, Family Literacy Program, and Granting Council. Our partners include the Grande Prairie Centre for Newcomers, City of Grande Prairie, Public Library, Welcoming and Inclusive Committee, L’ACFA, Alberta Human Services, Alberta Health Services, Alberta Law Foundation, Public and Catholic school districts, as well as many other community support services and agencies.
 
Access to post-secondary education: 
  • Grande Prairie Regional College
  • GPRC – Fairview Campus
  • Northern Lakes College 
In 2012–2013, the Community Adult Learning Council helped 1,036 learners improve their life, literacy, and employability skills.
 

Local Contact:

Grande Prairie
Jacky Rivas, Executive Director
jacky.rivas@gyppsd.ab.ca