EDMONTON – Edmonton’s Francophone community has prospered in recent years, according to the French Quartered Business Association, but some fear it will not be sustainable.
Jean Johnson, executive director of the association, said there are more than 30,000 people in Edmonton whose mother tongue is French and between 80,000 and 85,000 who speak the language.
He said that historically, French-speaking citizens came to Edmonton and Alberta because of the economy.
“What is really done is culturally diverse presence of [the Francophones] so that today’s Francophone community reflects Alberta civil society in terms of cultural diversity, ”said Johnson.
Johnson said La Cité francophone has helped create a hub for the community to come together for programs and events.
“I think that for other Edmontonians, this is an opportunity for people to come and discover a multi-ethnic Francophone community right here at La Cité francophone,” he said.
Ginette Boulianne can attest to this. Boulianne grew up speaking French in Saskatchewan. When she moved to Alberta in 2000, she said it was important to find a francophone community,
“I was delighted to see how vibrant and healthy the Francophone community in Edmonton was,” she said.
Boulianne said Francophone culture is such a priority that she comes from Sherwood Park to spend time at La Cité francophone, take her daughter to Francophone dance classes, or participate in events such as the Flying Canoe Festival.
“French culture is still part of who I am. That’s wonderful. It’s great that there are opportunities to do things in French and meet people who share the same culture, ”she said.
Johnson said it’s important for the French community to have a presence in the city because Canada is, technically, a bilingual country.
“Canada strengthens the values of cultural diversity and linguistic duality. I think that we reflect these two values as a community of the fact that we are French-speaking and of the fact that we have brought this enormous wealth of these various cultures coming from African cultures and from all over Europe, ”he said. .
But Lisette Trottier, spokesperson for the Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta – Edmonton chapter, said there were concerns that the French-speaking culture in the city was not sustainable.
Trottier, who is also a French immersion teacher, said 70 percent of Francophones either lose their ability to speak French or have never learned their parents’ language.
She said integration into culture often comes down to places where you can use the French language or activities that involve French heritage or culture.
“Living in a minority situation is a bit going against the grain. It’s just easier to assimilate and do like everyone else. I have often had to justify why I choose to do things in French, ”she said.
Trottier said one way to compensate for assimilation is to create more spaces, like La Cité, for Francophone residents and to create events that are not exclusive to Francophones.
“We do not only invite the Francophone community to events, but the entire community so that they can get to know us. We are better understood and people who have this real interest can also be part of this community. “