Quebec and Prince Edward Island: New momentum for French
Continuing a long tradition of collaboration between their two provinces, the governments of Quebec and Prince Edward Island today signed a new cooperation agreement and a statement on the Canadian Francophonie attesting to their commitment to the Canadian Francophonie and the continuity of the French language.
For the first time, the two governments have formally committed to progressively increasing their respective financial contributions. Indeed, the contributions will go from an annual average of $25,000 for the past five years to a minimum of $35,000 in 2017-2018 and to a minimum of $55,000 in 2021-2022. These now foreseeable allocations will be used to fund strategic and innovative initiatives in the areas of education, culture, youth, the economy, early childhood, immigration, and tourism.
Furthermore, the Premier of Prince Edward Island and the Quebec minister have agreed to meet at least once every two years to share and take stock of developments with respect to the Canadian Francophonie and to discuss action priorities that have been identified by stakeholders, including the Société Saint-Thomas-d’Aquin.
“Public policy makers have an important role to play in promoting French in Canada,” said Jean-Marc Fournier, the Minister responsible for Canadian Relations and the Canadian Francophonie. “This role could not be carried out effectively without the mobilizing support of community groups, which are in the field with their finger on the pulse of the Francophone community. The signing of this agreement is one more step forward. Let us look together towards the future and make Canada a country where the French language resumes its rightful place.”
“Our participation in the Quebec-Prince Edward Island Cooperation and Exchange Agreement and our joint Statement on the Canadian Francophonie are indicative of the strong support and great respect we have for the Acadian and Francophone community of this province,” said the Honourable Wade MacLauchlan, Premier of Prince Edward Island. “Our government is steadfast in its commitment to advance the provision of French-language services so that we may preserve the French language on Prince Edward Island for future generations. Our partnership with the Government of Quebec will serve to enhance the richness and diversity of the Francophonie in both of our provinces.”
In signing this Statement on the Canadian Francophonie, the governments of Quebec and Prince Edward Island recognize the key role played by Francophones in the founding and building of today’s Canada and their importance in the Canada of tomorrow. They are committed to working on the promotion, protection, sustainability, and vitality of French in Canada by exercising joint leadership within the Canadian Francophonie. They will actively champion the French language as an integral part of the Francophone cultural identity and make a pledge toward the future of our country by taking concrete action to maintain the demographic weight of Francophones in Canada and encourage the active offer of services in French.
“The signing of these two official documents gives the Island’s Acadian and Francophone community a golden opportunity to reaffirm its historical, linguistic, and cultural ties with our Quebec cousins,” said Guy Labonté, president of the Société Saint-Thomas-d’Aquin. “We congratulate the signatories on this commendable initiative, and we are sure that it will generate positive spinoffs for both governments as well as for Acadians and Francophones of Prince Edward Island and our neighbors in Quebec.”
This initiative is part of a wave of strong commitment to the French language, which is echoed across the country. Quebec signed a similar statement with the Government of Ontario in November 2014 and, more recently, with the governments of Manitoba, Yukon, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Quebec hopes these statements are just the beginning of a long series.
“We are nearly 10 million Francophones and Francophiles across Canada,” concluded Minister Fournier. “I would like to congratulate the Government of Prince Edward Island on this gesture of inclusion in the Canadian Francophonie. By coming together to make French resonate, the language becomes more legitimate, more vital, and stronger, which is good for all Canadians.”
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