September 27, 2021

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In Canada, for the “real” equality of French and English

“Our official languages ​​are part of our identity; our past, our present and our future. They are the meeting points and links between our cultures. They are at the center of our country’s social contract.” To Melanie Jolie, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages Canada, Language is not something to be taken lightly.

According to recent estimates, only 18% of Canadians speak French. Outside of Quebec, it is the main language of 85% of the population, which is now only 4% in other parts of the country, which has been steadily declining for 50 years.

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“French use in Canada is declining and its vitality is worrying”, The Minister mentions A statement It reveals the intentions of the Canadian government “True Equality of Official Languages ​​in Canada”. A desire to be reflected in a bill by the end of 2021.

Law that has not changed for more than 30 years

Adopted in 1969, the OLA made French the second official language of the country, along with English, guaranteeing the equality of the two languages ​​and the right to serve all Canadians and to communicate with the country’s federal agencies. .

“In practice, a French-speaking person living in Vancouver will have great difficulty accessing certain services in his language, and then they will be of lower quality,” he said. Franுவாois Larog, professor and owner of the Head of Research on Linguistic Rights and Issues at the University of Ottawa, regrets. Reform, according to him “A big step forward”, To achieve “True Equality”I.e., in terms of equity. “French is more vulnerable than English. It will be a very significant change that will allow this language to do more. As a French-speaking citizen living in Ottawa, I respect, value and assure you of my linguistic protection through this reform. He is delighted.

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Fifty or more of the proposals mentioned in the report are intended to protect and promote French, while recognizing regional linguistic specialties. They specifically include strengthening opportunities for learning both languages, promoting bilingualism and making it compulsory in all federal justice systems.

Bilingualism at the heart of Canadian identity

The decline in the use of the French language and the bilingual ratio is of particular concern. In 2016, 89% of Franco phones outside Quebec were proficient in English, but less than 7% of Anglophones were proficient in French.

“Bilingualism is an important part of our identity and allows us to differentiate ourselves. He enriches us as a nation and as a people.” To analyzeFranசois Larog. 64% of Canadians believe that having two official languages ​​is an important part of their identityCanadian Statistics Office.

“Bilingualism doesn’t take anything. He brings something.”, Adds Chandel Bourbonnoys, Managing Director of the Association of Diving Experts of Canada. Association-sponsored and immersion programs that benefit about 500,000 children for free, “Start at a young age of 4 or 5.” During the first 3 years of their schooling, before the gradual introduction of English, their teaching was done almost entirely in French.

“Even though parents do not speak French, children drop out of school bilingually”, The director notes, the model has proven itself despite being a victim of its success. “We need teachers to meet the demand. This is a huge issue, the reform of which can be answered by encouraging the migration of French-speaking teachers.” Over the past five years, the number of French immersion students outside of Quebec, designed for young Canadians, has increased by 20%.