For me, the Francophonie is …

Research and innovation

By University of Ottawa

Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, OVPRI

Stéphanie Gaudet, Janaína Nazzari Gomes, François Larocque, André Lecous, Mwali Muray and Lucie Hotte
Six University of Ottawa researchers dive into the topic to explain what the Francophonie means to them, what it represents, and why it’s important to conduct research and mobilize knowledge in French.

Watch the inspiring video below and read their quotes to find out more.

François Larocque: “… a passport.”

François Larocque
François Larocque is a professor who teaches in French at the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section. He also holds the Canadian Francophonie Research Chair in Language Rights.

“I encourage students to consider the career opportunities that open up to them when they study in French: greater access to more positions than their unilingual colleagues, and the ability to go pretty much anywhere in Canada and even around the world. 

Knowledge mobilization in French is essential, and I think that what the University of Ottawa does to promote research in French is exemplary. The University is able to offer all these undergraduate programs in ways that allow students to complete them in French from start to finish. I find that very important because it sets the tone and serves as an example.

The fact that uOttawa hosts a program of research chairs that focus on the Francophone world is unique in Canada. There is no other university that can boast of having created such a program of research on the Francophonie.”

Janaína Nazzari Gomes: “... diversity and community.”

Janaína Nazzari Gomes
Janaína Nazzari Gomes is a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Arts. She is also the recipient of an Arts Without Borders postdoctoral scholarship.

“Many students harbour linguistic insecurities about their level of French, even though they speak and have conversations in the language. I explain to them that it’s perfectly alright for them to speak as they do. I value all the languages that they speak equally. I think that this motivates them because then, they don’t feel excluded as speakers of a given language.

What I also believe to be vital, for me, is to have a network, to have people who have supported me, encouraged me, and generously shared information that was not obvious: where to get funding, how to submit a request, what works and what doesn’t work in a letter of motivation, what can be done to ensure that a journal accepts a research article for publication. 

When you’re starting your career, if no one shares this kind of information with you, it can take a lot more time. So, support on an individual level is very important.”

Mwali Muray: “... so worth it.”

Mwali Muray
Mwali Muray is an assistant professor at the School of Nursing (Faculty of Health Sciences).

“I am an early career researcher. I completed my doctorate in January 2022, so everything is brand new. Nearly every week I encounter unplanned situations, a number of unexpected things. In the end, you need to be able to laugh at yourself from time to time, because otherwise, it gets to be too much.

I teach nursing students in French, and there are times when I can sense that they are discouraged and asking themselves, “Is my program tougher because I’m studying in French?” And I tell them that all university studies are tough, but that doesn’t mean that their struggles aren’t worth it. 

Whether you’re a Francophone, Francophile, bilingual or in immersion, it’s so important to maintain your French-language skills, to improve these skills, and to become more confident by practising, working, and communicating in the language.”

André Lecours: “... an added value.”

André Lecours
André Lecours is a professor at the School of Political Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences.

“To better promote research in French, we must first get out the message that research in this language is vibrant, that there are forums where you can present your research, and that there are networks for research in French.

To better support researchers, we need to value research conducted in French; we need to show them, and obviously show the funding agencies, that contributing to knowledge in French is important. We need to show that it adds value, especially in a particular context such as in Canada, where we are trying to put forth a different perspective, or when we are trying to build a knowledge base that may be smaller in French than in English.”

Lucie Hotte: “... nourishing.”

Lucie Hotte
Lucie Hotte is a full professor in the Département de français at the Faculty of Arts. She is also director of the Centre de recherche sur les francophonies canadiennes (CRCCF).

“I believe that it’s more important to instill the desire to learn and discover, first in little kids and then in adults who attend university, rather than to simply teach them concepts. So when I see students who have interest and potential, I encourage them to pursue their studies and conduct research in French to further knowledge and also to nourish their intellects.

It’s important that universities recognize the relevance of French as a language for research and that they use fair and equitable performance indicators to ensure that we are not disadvantaged when we publish in French. We also need to encourage translation into English of articles written and published in French to shine a brighter spotlight on research conducted in French.”

Stéphanie Gaudet : “... an international network.”

Stéphanie Gaudet
Stéphanie Gaudet is a full professor at the School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences. She is also director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Citizenship and Minorities (CIRCEM).

“My priority is to publish and to conduct knowledge mobilization activities in French because I want to give back to my community. I’ve received a great deal from those who taught me in French. Consequently, I aim to give back to this research community.

The French language allows me to get in touch with people who are Francophiles and open to other cultures. These networks are very enriching. 

If they don’t have access to professional communities that they can join and share information with, young researchers will see no reason to conduct research in French. This is why it’s so important to nurture and support these networks.”