September 25 is a date to remember for all Franco-Ontarians. It is a day of celebration and community pride. Wondering why? On September 25th, 1975, University of Sudbury professor Gaétan Gervais and political science student Michel Dupuis created the Franco-Ontarian flag. This symbol of green and white was officially recognized by the government of Ontario for the francophone community on June 21st, 2001.
The Franco-Ontarian community is large! According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, “Ontario is home to the largest French-speaking minority community in Canada, and the largest French-speaking community of all provinces except Quebec” (2019) 1. Most of its members reside in Ottawa, Cornwall, Windsor and Welland and those who are in Northern Ontario, in Sudbury, Timmins, and North Bay 2.
In honour of la Journée des Franco-Ontariens, we asked our own Franco-Ontario community here at uOttawa to share the importance of their francophone culture.
What is the biggest flex of being a Franco Ontarian in your opinion?
- “Our music!”
- “Constantly switching languages mid conversation, speaking “franglais” as one would say”
- “I think one of the biggest advantages is having more opportunities for work. To give you an example some jobs in the government require you to be able to speak English and French. The biggest flex might be being able to speak to my friends and family in French and have other people not understand what we are saying. ”
- “Being able to connect with vast amounts of people. Especially in the Ottawa/Gatineau area. Also, having access to a variety of bilingual imperative jobs.”
-“ The fact that I have the heritage to be able to speak and understand a beautiful language such a French to be proud of those root, and the huge advantage it gives me in terms of job opportunities to be able to speak with mostly anybody in Canada”
- “It opens the door of communication with people from different ends of the world which in turn open the doors of networking with those people and their environment”
- “Personally, the biggest flex would be to be bilingual in the two official languages in the province because most people think we only speak French which isn’t true for the majority of us. Also, the fact that our French is far from than the French from Quebec.”
- Noémie Tchétchénigbo
What does Franco-Ontarian mean to you?
- “Franco Ontarian is a part of who I am, and it signifies that I am proud of the language I speak, as well as where I learnt it.”
-“I am very proud to be a Francophone in Ontario because I can express myself easily in French and I also want more and more services in French to help us in the community.”
- “To me it means being involved in a wonderful culture and language that I try to support everyday. It means that I’m proud to be a French Canadian.”
- “In my opinion, being Francophone means attaching importance to the French language and having a certain level of pride in being bilingual. Also, being French-speaking allows you to obtain the best opportunities in the job market!”
- “As someone who wasn’t raised by francophone parents but instead became part of the Franco-Ontario community at school. It represents an opportunity for francophones of all background to grow in cultural exchange. Learning from each other and enriching the vibrancy of the community!”
- “Franco Ontarian means being able to communicate through French and being a part of a culture and identity that is unique in itself. ”
- “French is not my first language, but still I feel welcome in the community. I am extremely proud to be a Franco-Ontarian and I am very fortunate to have obtained the resources to complete my secondary education (and now) my post secondary education in the language of my choice.”
- “Proudly being part of a group people in which no matter your accent or culture, there’s always a place for you”
- “Franco Ontarian to me means being part of a French community outside if the typical ones we think about. It is a privilege to be a part of such a big amazing community of Ontarian French speakers. It makes me think of the times when we would get together and celebrate the Franco Ontarian flag throughout my childhood”
- “Being Franco Ontarian means having courage, being proud, having strength and teamwork, encouragement, and enthusiasm for something much more than just material things. The fact that we come together to make something greater, gives us something to be proud of. Basically, it means to learn how to give a fight for what we want.”
- “I really love the feeling of being a small family within a largely anglophone province. It means being proud of not only the language but the culture we worked so hard to build.”
- “I love being able to live in a city/province that excepts both languages and makes it accessible to get services in both. I also enjoy being able to go to a school (more specifically elementary and high school) where I could meet people with similar backgrounds as me. Also, being from the city of Ottawa, an official bilingual city, feeling the pride of being Franco Ontarian is something that I’m proud of.”
- “I’ve always viewed being Franco-Ontarian as being a part of a supportive community. Together, united by language and history, we celebrate our culture. I have always admired the Franco-Ontarian community because it is open to anyone, no matter their religion, culture or personal history. All in all, I am a proud Franco- Ontarian! ”
- “For me, a Franco Ontarian means diversity in the population and being able to speak your own language, having the liberty to be part of a culture and recognize and stand out from the rest. Be proud of it.”
- “It means being a part of a colorful community that continues to find new ways of keeping our language and culture alive”
- “Living in French in Ontario! Whether at school, at home, in the community, it means expressing yourself in French, receiving services in French and participating in Francophone culture in Ontario!”
- “Being Franco Ontarian to me means being able to have access to services & education of good quality in French. It’s a very important aspect of it, and unfortunately it is not always a reality.”
With all that being said we dare to sing “Je te chante, mon beau drapeau, des Français de l’Ontario. Je te lève, brandi bien haut, pour que vous voyiez bien. Je suis franco-ontarien !” (Mon beau Drapeau, Brian St-Pierre)
1- Sylvestre, P. (2019, October 7). Francophones de l'Ontario (Franco-Ontariens).
2 - Ontario Association of School Districts International. (2020)