Archived - Notes for an address at the opening ceremony of the Village de la Francophonie and the Festival du bois
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Maillardville, February 13, 2010
Graham Fraser - Commissioner of Official Languages
Check against delivery
Beginning of dialog
Madam Minister, ladies and gentlemen, good day.
Maillardville is 100 years old. You have chosen to celebrate this milestone by welcoming the world with wide-open arms. What a wonderful idea and what a success story! I want to congratulate Mrs. Dumas and the Maillardville Francophone community for this great achievement.
The success of the Village de la Francophonie and Festival du bois is remarkable, but not surprising. Those who know British Columbia’s Francophone community, especially the people of Maillardville, know that the word “impossible” is not part of the Franco-Columbian vocabulary.
The community also recognizes the importance of such events in bringing together its partners and the public to celebrate the French fact in the region. This is a sign of a community that has taken its development into its own hands. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the community has to go it alone. Both the federal and the provincial governments must also play a part in terms of development and French-language services.
After all, the province’s entire population can reap the benefits of this success and of other Franco-Columbian community initiatives. Of course, Francophones benefit directly, but your English-speaking counterparts also appreciate what these types of events bring to the province as a whole.
In this respect, the Olympic Games are a golden opportunity for British Columbia to showcase its unique Francophone community. The work you are doing is contributing to the promotion of bilingualism in Canada and to the role our country plays within the international Francophonie.
The 100th anniversary celebrations also allow us to reflect on the progress we’ve made since the adoption of the Official Languages Act, 40 years ago. At the time, most Westerners had mobilized against the adoption of the Act. They thought that bilingualism would destroy Canada. But today, parents wait in line for hours or participate in lotteries to get their children into French immersion programs! Such moments in history are part of a political cartoon exhibition on Canada’s 40 years of language debate—an exhibition that my office has produced in cooperation with Library and Archives Canada. I invite you to visit this exhibition, which is located on the other side of the street at the Place des arts. It will bring back memories for the older generation and get a chuckle out of the younger one.
Challenges remain; some are considerable. However, I believe it is now time to overcome them, with the support of governments and the public.
With its solid tradition and now in its 21st year, the Festival du bois is destined for many more years of success. Congratulations.
Enjoy the festivities!