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International Day of La Francophonie

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Statement made on 25 March 2009 by Senator Maria Chaput

Hon. Maria Chaput:

Honourable senators, March 20, 2009 was the International Day of La Francophonie, a day when we celebrate both the vitality of the French language around the world and the anniversary of the founding of the international organization that promotes the French language: the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

On March 20, 1970, in Niamey, Niger, representatives of Canada and 20 other francophone states and governments signed the treaty that created the Agence de coopération culturelle et technique, which has become the OIF.

The OIF consists of 56 member states and governments and 14 observers around the world that share French as a common language.

Spoken by more than 200 million people worldwide, French is the sole official language or one official language of 32 OIF member states and governments.

In Canada, French is an official language. It has equal status, equal rights and equal privileges, as guaranteed by the Constitution.

Canada has more than 9 million French speakers, more than 9 million people who can communicate in the language of Molière.

In the early 17th century, French colonists began settling the land that would later become Canada. The first French colonists settled on St. Croix Island in New Brunswick, then in Port Royal, in what is known today as the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. With the founding of Quebec City in 1608, the French colonists began settling the shores of the St. Lawrence, first in small numbers, then in larger waves. Today, the city of Montreal is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world.

These first French speakers in Canada gradually migrated west and north. Today, minority francophone communities can be found in every province and territory.

Over the years, these early French settlers were joined by francophones from all over the world — Lebanon, Haiti, the Central African Republic, Senegal, Cambodia, Belgium, Switzerland and elsewhere — who enriched and bolstered French Canadian culture.

More than 80 per cent of Canadians support national bilingualism. Moreover, increasing numbers of Canadians are learning French as a second language and see it as a cultural, social and economic asset. Canadians are right to see their French language, a language bequeathed to them by history, as a boon and something that deserves to be promoted and celebrated with pride.

Together, let's celebrate the future of the French fact in Canada. Together, let's celebrate the place of French in the world.

Recent Statements from Liberal Senators

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19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Joan Fraser | Colleagues, I'm rising to speak on behalf of my leader, the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Cowan, who had to be in Halifax tonight on public business. I must tell you that when I called him to say we were going to be adjourning for the summer tonight, he was, I could tell, quite irritated, not because he wanted us all to go on working like galley slaves but because he had already written a speech that he wanted to give tomorrow morning.

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19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Jim Munson | Thank you, Your Honour, and my apologies to Senator Champagne.

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19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Jim Munson | Honourable senators, I am looking for a bit of love and empathy at this late hour because I do have a speech, but you have to understand that, in the interest of having dignified departures for our five senators this week, I gave up my time to make sure that we were able to celebrate the departures of Senator Buth, Senator Segal, Senator Callbeck, Senator Dallaire and Senator Champagne.

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19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Grant Mitchell | So, you thought you weren't going to hear from me? Well, I fooled you! So there! I rise in support of this report by the Defence Committee recommending that Canada become involved in ballistic missile defence with NORAD. I congratulate Senator Lang and other members of the committee for what I think was great collaborative work, completely non-partisan, very extensive and detailed with intense research.
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