In October 2010, the government awarded its ﬁrst Ontario Youth Francophonie Award. The award recognizes exceptional Francophones and Francophiles under the age of 25 who are actively involved in the development of their communities.
It is presented every two years alongside the traditional Francophonie Awards that were created in 2006 as part of the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the French Language Services Act.
The 2010 youth award was presented to University of Ottawa student Christopher Sisto, while Glendon College principal Kenneth McRoberts and life-long education advocate Jean Comtois were honoured in the Francophile and Francophone categories, respectively.
An independent selection committee appointed by the Minister responsible for Francophone Affairs considers all nominations before selecting recipients.
On April 26, 2010, the Legislative Assembly unanimously adopted the Franco-ontarian Day Act proclaiming September 25 of each year as Franco-Ontarian Day. This important gesture acknowledges the contribution of Ontario’s Francophones in all aspects of everyday life, including in the areas of culture and history, as well as in the social, economic and political realms. The chosen date, September 25, falls on the anniversary of the ﬁrst raising of the Franco-Ontarian ﬂag in 1975. Last year’s tribute celebrated the 35 th anniversary of this historic event.
Élargir l’espace francophone is a pilot project of the Ministry of Education that engages various partners from the Francophone community as well as from the private sector. Working with three community liaison agents from the Centre canadien de leadership en évaluation, the program led to a number of successful initiatives involving Francophone students, including two described below.
The ﬁrst initiative saw over 300 under-privileged students from three Eastern French-language school boards take part in an all-French day camp in Quyon, Quebec, organized by the Tim Horton’s Foundation. Over the course of three to seven days, these students enjoyed various sports and cultural activities in a totally French-speaking environment.
The second initiative allowed a delegation of 100 students from French-language high schools to attend the annual convention of the Association française des municipalités de l’Ontario in September 2010, as part of the school activities. The goal was to allow these students to gain a better understanding of the roles of municipal representatives and school trustees. This successful project will be renewed and expanded next year, thanks to the Association’s willingness to add a youth component to its next annual convention.
The Commissioner strongly encourages the government to continue funding the Élargir l’espace francophone projects that have shown many positive results with modest resources and investment. Indeed, the Commissioner believes these pilot partnership initiatives fully support the objectives of the government’s Aménagement Linguistique policy.
The government’s commitment to providing quality services in all parts of Ontario, including in remote communities, is the driving force behind the partnership established between the Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat and the Fédération des aînés et des retraités francophones de l’Ontario — a group that serves the interests of Ontario’s active and retired Francophone seniors.
While the Commissioner applauds the Ontario Government’s partnership approach in the delivery of information to Francophone seniors, this type of initiative could, perhaps, be better supported through the Web, given that seniors are increasingly becoming avid Web users. (According to a Statistics Canada study conducted in 2007, seniors use Internet the least, but they are the fastest growing group: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-008-x/2009002/article/10910-eng.htm).
In 2009, the North East Local Health Integration Network became the first LHIN to adopt a French-language health services policy. Endorsed by the LHIN’s Board of Directors, this policy will help to ensure that French service offer is more fully taken into account throughout the territory served by the LHIN. It will help the LHIN to meet its legal obligations under the French Language Services Act. The adoption of this policy is all the more noteworthy because it preceded the adoption of Ontario Regulation 515/09, Engagement with the Francophone Community under Section 16 of the Act, which came into force in January 2010.
The Ministry of Tourism and Culture conducted market research to determine which recreational activities appeal to Franco-Ontarians. This research was then used to develop a strategy to promote recreational activities to Ontario’s Francophones. Since January 2010, the Ministry has coordinated the distribution of brochures and pamphlets in French on a variety of seasonal activities that reflect the interests of this target market.