The Francophonie is key to our university’s mission and mandate. The University of Ottawa Act states that one of our fundamental goals is to “further bilingualism and biculturalism and to preserve and develop French culture in Ontario.”

Francophonie at uOttawa

The Francophone presence at uOttawa is a vital catalyst and contributor in helping Francophone communities in Ontario and across Canada to flourish. It is also a remarkable source of enrichment for our entire University community. 

Our Transformation 2030 strategic plan confirms our desire to strengthen our links with the wider Franco-Ontarian community and to better highlight our unique Francophone nature.  It commits us to playing a frontline role in the broader, intercultural French-speaking world, remaining relentless in our support of Francophone communities and culture globally.  

Transformation 2030
Tabaret Hall

History of the Francophonie at the University of Ottawa

1848 — Monsignor Joseph-Bruno Guigues (an Oblate from Hautes-Alpes, France) founds the College of Bytown, a bilingual Catholic institution that is today the University of Ottawa, the largest bilingual university in the world. 

1965 — The enabling legislation of the University of Ottawa mandates that it “preserve and develop Francophone culture in Ontario” in addition to promoting the development of bilingualism and biculturalism. 

1974 — The University of Ottawa adopts the Regulation on Bilingualism, which gives precedence to French over English in all official communications. This regulation highlights the role of French in Ontario and requires that all services be proactively offered in both official languages. 

2016 — The University of Ottawa is officially granted partial designation under the French Language Services Act of Ontario for all of its student services and undergraduate programs, with a small number of exceptions. This designation preserves the Francophone nature of the University by safeguarding the provision of undergraduate programs and student services in French.  

2019 — Creation of the Office of the Vice-President, International and Francophonie.

Reporting to the president, the vice-president, international and Francophonie plays a key part in achieving the University’s internationalization goals and in fulfilling our historical role of supporting and contributing to the growth and achievements of the Franco-Ontarian community, as mandated in our founding legislation. The mandate of the office is to implement the University’s vision concerning the Francophonie and to promote our role as a leader in it and its leading bodies, provincially, nationally and internationally, as called for in the University’s strategic plan, Transformation 2030. The vice-president, international and Francophonie collaborates with many stakeholders and establishes partnerships with university, public and private sector representatives in  French-speaking communities and the world at large.

Headshot of Sanni Yaya

“uOttawa stands out as a major research university and a bilingual institution with a special role to play in higher education within la Francophonie in Canada and internationally.”

Sanni Yaya

— Vice-President, International and Francophonie