As he prepares to pass on the torch as director of the Collège des Chaires de recherche sur le monde francophone (CCRMF), Professor E.-Martin Meunier, an expert in the sociology of religion at the Faculty of Social Sciences and holder of the Research Chair on Quebec, Canadian Francophonie and Cultural Changes, can feel some satisfaction over the road travelled since the creation of the Collège in 2019. The Collège has now fully assumed the role of a leader in research on the Francophonie and in French-language scholarship at the University of Ottawa.
Cutting-edge research in French
Professor Meunier was the driving force in developing the Collège and making it into an institution, a body whose cutting-edge work is increasingly raising the profile of research on the francophone presence in Ontario, across Canada and around the world.
“Thanks to the leadership of its director, E.-Martin Meunier, and the outstanding work of all its research chairholders and their teams, the Collège has, in five short years, taken its place among the leading institutions in the field of research in French and on French-speaking communities in Canada and internationally. We offer our congratulations,” says Sylvain Charbonneau, uOttawa vice-president, research and innovation. “The goal of the Collège to respond with research to societal issues related to francophone communities remains consistent and fits both with the University’s mission and our office’s research priorities.”
A solid, respected actor in the francophone world
The research scope of the 10 Collège chairs, along with the international Senghor Chair and the annual Mobility Chairs, covers topics as varied as Franco-Ontarians’, migrants’ and sub-Saharan peoples’ access to health care; francophone immigration; language rights; and cultural change in the francophone world. This multidisciplinary quality reflects the Collège’s commitment to disseminate scholarly knowledge related to francophones here and elsewhere.
Under its director, the Collège has clearly assumed a leading role as an institution conducting multidisciplinary research on the French-speaking world and disseminating knowledge in French. “Despite slowdowns due to, among other things, the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to pursue our development strategies,” says Meunier. “With 26 new projects since 2021, involving nearly 90 students, Collège researchers have the momentum in their activities!” The Collège’s performance when it comes to research grants is indeed outstanding. Chairholders have received over $16 million in research funds, through sixty or so grants, since the Collège was established in 2019.
A vision and a mission made real
The result of a redesign of the Research Chairs in Canadian Francophonie program, the Collège was established under the auspices of the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation. “This initiative was in response to the desire of the University of Ottawa and its professors to reassert the Francophonie following the announcement of the cancellation of plans for a first French-language university in Toronto, November 15, 2018. An episode known as ‘Black Thursday’ in French Ontario,” recalls Meunier.
With the backing of partner centres and organizations, the Collège plays a major advocacy role on issues related to French-language research in a francophone environment, in Ontario, across Canada and around the world.
Knowledge mobilization and internationalization
An important actor in scholarly knowledge production in French, the Collège is also very active in research dissemination and academic collaboration. “We’ve successfully launched a website, a newsletter and a podcast series on research in French, part of our strategy of mobilizing knowledge and promoting our chairholders’ work,” says Meunier. “Our chairholders, who are increasingly present in the media, are enjoying genuine recognition both in Canada and internationally.”
The Francophone Mobility Chairs program, implemented to sponsor international researchers coming for a research stay at the University of Ottawa, is a pillar of the Collège’sinternationalization strategy. Synergies developed to date with nine universities in the francophone world, including in Senegal, France and Morocco, will broaden the research networks all uOttawa researchers benefit from.
Looking towards the future
Meunier sees a promising future for the Collège and for his successor, Professor Jonathan Paquette. “I’ve done my part by taking the Collège to a certain level and giving it a foothold at the University, as well as among researchers studying the Francophonie in Ontario, Canada and internationally,” says Meunier. “It’s essential for it to have the means to sustain its scholarly reach and ensure its future growth, so that it becomes an essential reference on research in French and on the French fact in Canada and around the world,” he says. “The best is yet to come!”