This year, Canada is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the first Official Languages Act, which recognized French as an official language alongside English in the development and vitality of Canadian society. This recognition was reinforced in 1982 with the adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which provided better protection for the language rights of francophone and anglophone communities in Canada.
At the international level, Canada has taken on an important role within the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF). Established in 1970, the OIF brings together 88 nations and governments that use French. Its mandate includes promoting the French language and cultural diversity in a unique context. While French is the fifth most common spoken language in the world and estimates show it will be spoken by some 700 million people by 2050, it is often the minority language in the countries where it is spoken.
In Canada and around the world, this minority status presents considerable challenges, not only for the use of the French language, but also for its being recognized as a modern and inclusive language, one that is just as essential to the economic, social and cultural development of nations as the majority languages are. In Canada, French language communities have been losing ground for some time.
Taking into account Canada's multicultural context and the power balance between majority and minority communities, and recognizing that individual rights and collective language issues coexist, how can we ensure the continued development and vitality of the French language and French communities in Canada?
The International Day of La Francophonie, the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act and the recent challenges faced by official language minority communities each provide us with opportunities to reflect on this issue and to pause to consider the role of French in Canada in 2019.
March 20, 2019 8AM-10AM
Room W110, 1 Wellington St.
Dr. Stéphanie Chouinard
Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, Royal Military College (Kingston)
Dr. Michael MacMillan
Mount Saint Vincent University
Professor Benoît Pelletier
University of Ottawa,
Faculty of Law – Civil Law Section