The government of Canada has devoted $12.6 million to help settle Francophone immigrants in English-majority communities outside Quebec.
The Welcoming Francophone Communities Initiative is a program created by Immigration and Citizenship Canada which will see an unspecified number of Francophone immigrants settled in communities across Canada.
“The Welcoming Francophone Communities initiative will help support French-speaking newcomers across Canada,” Immigration and Citizenship Canada says.
“14 communities were selected to get $12.6 million (over 3 years) for projects to make Francophone newcomers feel welcome in their new community.”
The fourteen communities will receive annual grants to help provide services for French-language immigrants.
These annual grants ranged from $100,756 to Iqaluit, Nu., to $450,000 for Hawkesbury, Ont.
The majority of French-speaking immigrants to Canada are from French-speaking countries in Africa, as well as Haiti and France proper.
Factors determining which communities were selected included “the community’s willingness to attract and keep French-speaking newcomers” and “how proactive the community is.”
While some communities already have a large Francophone population, others have a minuscule Francophone population and little historical connection to the language.
As pointed out by Blacklock’s reporter, in Labrador City, Nfld., Tagalog speakers outnumber Francophones, and in Hamilton, Ont. twice as mainly people use Italian as their first language
In Prince George, BC. French is the fourth most common language, behind English, Punjabi, and German.
To monitor the program, the government has hired an external consulting firm to perform research in the program’s communities.
A firm will be paid an unspecified amount over four years to ask members of the community questions like “do community members and newcomers trust and understand each other?”
“Civic engagement and welcoming public spaces questions could be in the survey,” the government wrote.
Another question the government is interested in is: “do all community members including employers, host community, community leaders and local authorities have a positive attitude towards French-speaking newcomers?”
The Welcoming Francophone Communities initiative, beginning in 2020, now features prominently on Immigration and Citizenship’s website under the section intended for prospective immigrants.