The latest figures from Statistics Canada demonstrate this: the rate of people for whom French is the first official language in the country has dropped over the past 20 years, from 23.6% to 21.4%.
The decline is palpable everywhere in Canada, except in the Yukon, where the rate of Francophones increased by 1.5% between 2001 and 2021.
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To explain this exception, Marguerite Tölgyesi, president of the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française, who resides in the Yukon, bluntly states:
It’s Francophone immigration!
” We receive a lot of francophones from all over the country and elsewhere in the world. The Franco-Yukon community is very welcoming. When there is a new family, we all know it and we mobilize to settle it well. »
In the Yukon, it is certainly a battle that we still live, but when we see these figures, it gives hopesaid the young activist.
Marie-Claude Rioux is an Acadian from Nova Scotia who also campaigns for the protection of the French language in Canada. According to her,
decline is not inevitable.
I am a bearer of hope. I see the number of Francophones increasing even if their rate is decreasing, because Anglophone immigration is much more numerous and we are working to counter that, she said. We want to get more francophones back, that’s essential. It is also an electoral issue. We still have a lot of work to do.
Host Anne-Marie Dussault with her guests during the “24.60” special program on the decline of French in Canada, filmed in Dieppe.
“A social project”
It is the demographic weight that is the most worryingadded Michelle Landry, director of the Research Chair on Canadian Francophone Minorities at the Université de Moncton.
Numbers [de Statistique Canada] are still fairly stable and we know that we have already reversed trends in the past, as in Quebec with Bill 101, or outside Quebec with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms […] We know it had an impactshe clarified.
” The decline of French is not inevitable, but we really have to bet on the pillars that are the most structuring, such as early childhood, schools and immigration. It is a social project. »
Michelle Landry, Director of the Research Chair on Canadian Francophone Minorities at the Université de Moncton
In 2022, Canada reached its Francophone immigration target outside Quebec for the first time, set at 4.4%, which represents approximately 16,300 Francophone newcomers settled outside La Belle Province.
In 2006, there were 2,800 admissions of Francophone immigrants outside Quebec, which represented only 1.38% of those admitted.
“Let’s get the French speakers”
For Ibrahima Diallo, Francophile, full professor of microbiology at the University of Saint-Boniface and former president of the Société de la francophonie manitobaine, this figure is clearly below the needs. According to him, in Manitoba, all the cultural communities are expanding,
except French speakers.
How do you want us to continue? he asked, going so far as to claim a
Marshall Plan to save French in Canada, in reference to the one that the United States had put in place to rebuild Europe after the Second World War.
We have to deal with francophone immigration. Let’s find Francophones where they are around the worldhe further pleaded.
Ibrahima Diallo, Full Professor of Microbiology at Université de Saint-Boniface, Winnipeg
To do this, Canada needs a Francophone immigration target
even more aggressivelaunched Liane Roy, president of the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities of Canada, which represents approximately 2.8 million people.
According to her, with the new version of the Official Languages Act, Bill C-13, which is still under review,
we could perhaps stop the decline of French.
The reform of this law had been promised in 2021 before being rejected, then again tabled in 2022 by the Minister of Official Languages, Ginette Petitpas Taylor. During her presentation, the Minister insisted on the fact that her project gives
more bite to current law.
For Mrs. Roy,
we must have good targets that will increase the current demographic weight francophones in the country. His organization produced a study a year ago to determine what target would be needed to halt the decline of French in Canada:
We recommend 12% in 2024. This is a progressive target to reach 20% in 2036.
Liane Roy, President of the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities of Canada
Invited to the show, Minister Petitpas Taylor confirmed on Friday that the decline of French
is everywhere, even in Quebec.
We are the first government to recognize this decline and we must have ambitious strategies to reverse [la tendance]hence this billshe assured.
” I, who live in Acadie, an official language minority community, know the importance of this act and its new version for our communities. It is important to move forward and ensure that it is adopted sooner rather than later. »
The Minister stressed the importance of a Francophone immigration strategy to halt the decline of French in Canada.
Of course, immigration is an important component [du projet de loi]for sure we will go ahead with thatshe said, without indicating whether the target was going to change or not.
She also recalls that the new law will guarantee
fundamental rightssuch as access to justice.
Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages
Initiatives like that are concrete. And, yes, the federal government is serious, she said again. With the new act, we want to ensure that all decisions made by the federal government [passent par] a lens to assess the impact of these decisions on our official language minority communities.
On March 7, the Standing Committee on Official Languages voted six to five to add six and a half hours of discussion on proposed amendments to the law. The Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois would have liked more, among other things to debate section 54 on the use of French in private businesses under federal jurisdiction. The meeting was adjourned before the end of the exchanges around this extension of the discussions.
Once the parliamentary work is completed, Bill C-13 will be studied by the Senate Committee on Official Languages.
Tags: aggressive Francophone immigration target save French decline