Tour in the London Region

ACFO London-Sarnia

As I stated in yesterday’s blog post, I went to London last Friday to take part in the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario’s (AFO) Annual Gathering. I met with several Francophone stakeholders on this occasion. During my visit I was accompanied by Mohamed Ghaleb, our Senior Analyst, Research and Monitoring.

Our first meeting took place in ACFO London-Sarnia’s offices. Gaston Mabaya, Executive Director of ACFO London-Sarnia; Nicole Buteau, Coordinator; Nicole Blanchette, Executive Director of La Ribambelle; Rita Giroux-Patience, Executive Director of the Centre communautaire régional de London; and Abdoul Salam Barry, Liaison Officer at the Réseau de soutien à l’immigration francophone du Centre-Sud-Ouest de l’Ontario, were in attendance. Contributors discussed the challenges they come across in the access and delivery of French-language services, including the consequences of the new Early Learning Program (ELP) for Francophone parents.

We also met with Jean-Pierre Cantin, Director of Services and Programs for Central-Southwestern Ontario at Collège Boréal. This was a great opportunity to discuss, inter alia, my investigation report about the state of French-language postsecondary education in the region.

We then met with Carrefour des femmes du Sud-Ouest de l’Ontario’s highly committed and dedicated staff including Monique Lancry, President; Suzanne Huot and Intissar Abdallah, Administrators; and Émilie-Françoise Crakonji, Executive Director. This organization offers assistance and specialized tools to Francophone women aged 16 years and older who were victims of violence to help them develop both individually and collectively. One of its main programs is the Café-causette, which gives women an opportunity to share ideas while attending social, information or awareness events. This program is quite unique in Ontario and may very well be included in the list of best practises in my next annual report!

This tour concluded by a meeting with representatives from the Regroupement multicultural francophone de London including Dieufert Bellot, President; Pascal Munyankesha, Vice-President; Gerardo Castro, member of the Board; and Michelle Cialacu, Communications and Community Development Officer. Attendees raised different issues, including the fact that Francophone newcomers are sometimes unaware of their linguistic rights in Ontario and of the possibility of filing a complaint when quality French-language services are not being offered. I share this point of view and this is precisely why I have strongly emphasised this question in my last annual report.

Overall, the day was extremely rewarding. I warmly thank all these dedicated people for making a big difference in the life of Francophones who live in the London region.

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