A lecture series created as a tribute to the late MP and uOttawa alumnus Mauril Bélanger was launched on February 15 with a talk on a topic close to his heart. Professor Emerita Anne Gilbert, from uOttawa’s Department of Geography, presented the inaugural lecture, entitled “New Frontiers: The Dynamics of Francophone Space in the Capital.”
Mauril Bélanger (BA ’77), who represented the riding of Ottawa-Vanier from 1995 until his death in 2016, spent much of his political career championing the Franco-Ontarian community and minority rights. Thanks to a generous financial contribution from the Fondation Famille Bertrand, the Mauril Bélanger Lecture Series will be held as a joint initiative of uOttawa’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Citizenship and Minorities (CIRCEM) and Library and Archives Canada, which is the custodian of Mauril Bélanger’s written works.
In a fascinating presentation, Professor Gilbert traced the evolution of Francophone spaces in the National Capital Region over the past 25 years. She described the following broad trends in the transformation of one of Canada’s most dynamic Francophone communities:
- The border between the strictly Francophone area of Gatineau and its less Francophone population has shifted eastward from an area west of the former city of Hull to the banks of the Gatineau River.
- The Rideau Canal has become a less distinct border between Francophone areas of Ottawa and highly Anglophone populations in the rest of the city.
- The downtown cores of Hull and Ottawa are now mixed spaces shared between Francophones and members of other language communities.
- The proportion of Francophones in Ottawa’s suburbs is decreasing, with these zones now becoming spaces for contact with Anglophones and, increasingly, allophones.
Professor Gilbert’s presentation was followed by a lively discussion and comments from Jean-Pierre Corbeil (assistant director, Statistics Canada) and Brian Ray (vice-dean, research, Faculty of Arts).
Mauril Bélanger’s widow, Catherine, was among the 70 people who attended this livestreamed event at Library and Archives Canada. More than twice as many have viewed it online.
Watch the video (in French)