Archived Letter – 805

“Millions for what?” Wellington Advertiser, February 20, 2015

Ashley Woods asks why no one is answering the question she posed: “Why are we creating a French-only society here in Ontario?” This is an irrelevant question based on her unproven assumption that a French-only society is being created. Just because she believes it doesn’t make it so.

It would appear that Ms. Woods is misinterpreting the role of francophone schools in Ontario. They do not exist with a mandate to create a French-only society. They exist with a clear mission to preserve French language and culture for francophones in a country where, despite the declaration that there are two OFFICIAL languages, only a few pockets of the country are truly bilingual.

And contrary to what Ms. Woods believes, French-language schools do, in fact, promote bilingualism. Children enrolled in the system (two of whom are my grandchildren) come out speaking both official languages. The same holds true for children enrolled in French-immersion programs. It does not hold true for schools that teach French as just part of the regular curriculum, the option Ms. Woods advocates.

I am extremely proud to have come from a francophone background in Quebec. I was happily surprised when my son met and married a Franco-Ontarian. The decision they made to have their children go to a francophone school was a no-brainer.

If anything is holding Canada back from becoming a truly bilingual nation, it is the attitudes of people who cannot see the advantages of speaking, living and working in more than one language. (And apparently many people do see the advantages because French-immersion programs are filled beyond capacity.)

English-speaking Canadians should be proud of their heritage, but they should also accept the fact that, in the 2011 census, 7.3 million people reported French as their mother tongue in Canada, and 7.9 million said they speak French at home. The history of our official languages is a little more complex than “someone deciding years ago that we would be a bilingual country.” Surely nearly eight million people have every right in a bilingual country to be taught in the language of their birth culture.

Linda Georges, Puslinch

Linda Georges