The opening of an office of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) in Quebec City in mid-May is well received by organizations for the defense of French here.
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The announcement was made on Saturday in New York by the secretary general of the OIF Louise Mushikiwabo, who had succeeded in 2018 to the Quebecer Michaëlle Jean after a stormy mandate in this post.
Ms. Mushikiwabo told AFP that the Quebec office will have the mandate “to cover the Francophonie of the Americas”, as well as the presence of French on the internet.
She also announced that the observatory of the French language in the world, which produces a report on the state of French every four years, would leave the headquarters of the OIF in Paris for the new office in Quebec.
The view will change
“It can’t hurt that the OIF settles in Quebec. It is a good thing that the Organization can have an office in the heart of the Francophonie in North America,” said Marie-Anne Alepin, president of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society (SSJB).
Ms. Alepin thinks that once installed in the National Capital, the OIF will take a “no doubt different look at the demographic data of French (…) French is more threatened than ever in Quebec, on the island of Montreal. , the proportion of mother-tongue Francophones went from 53.4% in 1996 to 48.2% during the last census,” she denounces.
If the president of the SSJB says she is ready to “collaborate with the OIF on a permanent basis”, she also invites it “to use its presence in Quebec to help civil society organizations to ensure better sustainability of the French in Quebec.”
She points out that pressure had to be put on her organization to participate in the 2012 Global Forum, claiming that civil society organizations were not invited.
But according to Ms. Alepin, it will take more than an office of the OIF in Quebec to correct things.
“To counter the decline of our common and official language in Quebec, it can only go through the language policies made by our government. And as long as we remain a province, Canada’s language policy will continue to affect us enormously,” she said, referring in particular to immigration powers.
Well received in Canada
“It’s very positive to open a representation in Quebec. This will give the OIF the opportunity to approach the Francophonies of Canada,” said Liane Roy, president of the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities of Canada (FCFA).
“We are 10 million to speak French in Canada. In British Columbia and Alberta it is growing, as is the Yukon, the most bilingual jurisdiction after Quebec and New Brunswick,” she points out.
Moncton, New Brunswick, hosted the Francophonie Summit in 1999.
“We attend Francophonie summits with the Canadian delegation. We also submit briefs to them. We are not strangers to the OIF, but we want to strengthen our ties with them,” explains the president of the FCFA.
Ms. Roy even thinks that the OIF will gain from it. “The question is not only to ask how the OIF can help us, but also how our Francophonie could feed the OIF. Some of our communities are like the OIF. We may have models to offer in terms of cultural and linguistic diversity.”
In addition to Quebec, Beirut, in Lebanon, will also obtain an OIF office. The number of representations of the organization will thus increase to 13.
In America, the OIF currently has an office in New York with the United Nations and another in Haiti for the Caribbean and Latin America.