New school facility opens for children of Canadian Armed Forces members in Belgium

Civilian and military officials and their families at a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the opening of the new Canadian-British school in Casteau, Belgium
Ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the new Canadian/British school facility at SHAPE in Casteau, Belgium. Photo: Submitted

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A new school facility for children of Canadian and United Kingdom armed forces members stationed at NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Casteau, Belgium, was officially opened on October 9, 2018 by Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Sir James Everard.

A memorandum of understanding signed between Canada and the United Kingdom in 2010 forged the commitment to build the new facility at the SHAPE International School with the goal of better meeting the educational needs of children from both countries.

Students attending the new facility now have the option of conducting their studies in English and in French as part of a program that follows Ontario Curriculum standards. The new facility has approximately 300 military children enrolled for the 2018/2019 school year.

Lieutenant-Colonel Jake Galuga, Commanding Officer – Canadian Contingent at SHAPE, and Commodore Mark B. Watson, former Director General, Morale and Welfare Services, were also in attendance to mark this important occasion for Canadian military family community posted to NATO.

“This new building at the SHAPE International School further reinforces the spirit of cooperation between the Canadian Armed Forces and our fellow NATO nations. This school will provide first rate educational facilities for our military families, while realizing economies of scale by partnering with our allies from the United Kingdom”, stated Lieutenant-General Charles A. Lamarre, Commander, Military Personnel Command.

Commodore Sean N. Cantelon, Director General Morale and Welfare Services added: “Working with our British allies to make this new school a reality means so much more than having a new building for our students. Children from more than 17 NATO nations have helped develop a school community that values diversity, respect, and teamwork. The goal of this new facility is to ensure that children of these military family members, like all Canadian citizens, are able to pursue a rich education and enjoy the same multitude of educational opportunities that Canadian schools have to offer.”

The new facility is the latest addition to the SHAPE International School. Founded in 1967, the SHAPE International School has been providing education to children of military personnel posted to SHAPE for more than 50 years. In addition to the educational curriculum, SHAPE International School offers a variety of sports teams, clubs, and activities that contribute to a positive and enriching school community. The international school currently serves the needs of children from more than 17 allied nations.

The Department of National Defence operates overseas schools at both the AFNORTH International School in Brunssum, the Netherlands, as well as the SHAPE International School in Casteau, Belgium, to support the education of military members’ children. Access to these overseas schools is but one of the services provided to children of Canadian Armed Forces personnel posted overseas.

Children’s Education Management supports the educational needs of Canadian military children and its programs are designed to lessen the potential impact frequent relocation can have on schooling. Overseen by Military Family Services, under Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services, Children’s Education Management provides guidance counselling services, educational screening, and allowances and benefits to Canadian Armed Forces families in a variety of situations, in Canada and abroad.

Image gallery

  • Civilian and military officials and their families at a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the opening of the new Canadian-British school in Casteau, Belgium
  • Entrance of the new Canadian/British school facility at SHAPE in Casteau, Belgium
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