National Francophone Immigration Week
To wrap up this superb National Francophone Immigration Week, I would like to mention the various personal stories we heard through the week and point out how significant newcomers’ involvement is in our communities. I also took part in a few interviews here and there.
I stressed a number of times the importance of having good programs to provide the best possible welcome for people who decide to move to Ontario and live their lives in French. We have to be able to welcome them properly, in French, and find a way of retaining them, so that they will decide to settle here.
In our infographics (which many of you have undoubtedly seen circulating over the last few years), we show the large pool of newcomers who contribute to Ontario’s Francophonie. One out of two Francophones in the Greater Toronto Area was born outside Canada, and only 60% of Ontario’s Francophone population was born here. That says a lot!
Also, in 2009 we broadened the meaning of the term Francophone by introducing the Inclusive Definition of Francophone (IDF). Under this definition, Francophones are “persons whose mother tongue is French, plus those whose mother tongue is neither French nor English but have a particular knowledge of French as an Official Language and use French at home.” As a result of this change, more people who are already here, in our province of Ontario, are recognized as Francophones and Francophiles.
Some will say, That’s all very nice, but we’re having trouble attracting, recruiting and keeping those people here. The numbers aren’t there, and we are not reaching the provincial target for Francophone immigration. The long-awaited report of the ministry of Citizenship and Immigration’s group of experts is expected out shortly. I will certainly have occasion to respond to it.
Until we see that report and the solutions it will undoubtedly suggest, we have to continue finding ways of attracting newcomers and making sure that we welcome them with open arms. If they feel at home here, they will want to stay and in turn help bring others here and play an active role in the community. We need to continue stressing how important Francophone immigration is and how it enriches our lives.