02 May 2017
Beth Wilkinson is a language activist from New Brunswick who has been fighting alongside many English-speakers against the Official Languages Act, adopted by the NB govt. in 1969 but which has been revised several times through the years, each time making it progressively more difficult for the English-speaking majority. The latest revision was made in 2012, without consultation with the general public but behind closed doors with groups of French-speakers because they are the only groups receiving public funding & thus able to afford to set up offices with well-paid officials. Needless to say, English-speakers' interests were largely left out.
Joan Seeley posted the message below on FB - please contact me for further clarification or questions:
The Association regionale de la communate francophone de Saint-Jean (ARCF) have made recent presentations to all 3 communities, Saint John, Rothesay and Quispamsis. The article in the Telegraph Journal by Michel Cote, Exec. Director of ARCF stated it was to show case the francophone and acadian athletes in the Atlantic regions. Basically another French agenda event that they want the English-speaking to assist in funding. An estimated budget which now sits at $500,000 and to which we are all aware that estimates are generally presented low to ensure and secure backing. Our communities would be on the hook for 10% of the budget, or a minimum of $50,000. I am against this outrageous proposal by ARCF.
At one time the city of Saint John, a Loyalist city, alloted $100,000 towards Loyalist Day with media exposure for an entire day of family-filled activities, a parade, and ending with a Grand Ball. Now there is no city funding alloted for Loyalist Day. No city funding for Tartan Day for the Scottish. No city funding for St. Paddy's Day for the Irish, no city funding for St. George's Day for the English. These English-speaking cultures in our communities are being discarded as unimportant, but our history, our English-speaking minority cultures need to be celebrated just as the francophone and acadian history need to be celebrated. The francophone and acadian cultures are being widely and lavishly show cased and funded, but they are not the only minority culture in NB.
Rights to Information documents verify from Jan. 1st, 2014 to March 31st, 2015 the French-related organizations in NB received from Canadian Heritage over $126 million dollars:
ARCF received $140 thousand
societe des jeux de l'Acadie Inc. received $364 thousand
societe nationale de l'Acadie received $781 thousand
federation des jeunes francophones du NB received $417 thousand
societe de l'Acadie du NB received $1.1 million
The ARCF should not be pressuring our English communities to fund them for anything! They have been more than generously funded already. Once your association or organization secures a position on the list for Canadian Heritage, it's guaranteed funding for life.
Statistics Canada 2011 indicate that our 3 communities are 95% English-speaking and for a representative of ARCF to change the name of their event to Acadian Games instead of les jeux de l'Acadie does not make this an English-speaking friendly or welcoming event. This is not about inclusiveness, this is not about advancing an Atlantic regions' sporting events here at the QPlex for all athletes in our area. This is all about show-casing the francophones and acadians in the Atlantic regions.
Les jeux de l'Acadie is a French event, and should be funded totally by the French associations' coffers, they receive ample funding to cover all the costs. Let us not forget, Caraquet in northern NB held this event last year with a shortfall, that is a good indication that the French do not want to be taxed extra for a French event, so they are targeting English-speaking areas to host it. This year "les jeux de l'Acadie" is being held in Fredericton (Stats Canada 2011, 10% french population in F'ton) and the city already guaranteed that if there is another shortfall this year, then the taxpayers of Fredericton will incur the costs. I shake my head in amazement at how such an ill-advised decision could have been obtained.
So now ARCF which is based in Saint John is targeting our 3 English-speaking communities here to support this French event all under the guise that it is a positive endeavour to support all aspects of our population and how this sporting event would greatly benefit us. Stats Canada 2011, Saint John area has a 5% french population base. We have a K-5 school in Quispamsis, ecole des pionners that remains at half capacity. We do not have a lot of francophone families in our regions as Michel Cote insinuates.
If government funding was proportionally divided, if government funding was equally divided to all the minorities in NB only then would I support les jeux de l'Acadie to be hosted by our communities, but the reality is that government funding is not distributed proportionally or equally.
So before anything gets decided, let it be known there are many English-speaking taxpayers in our 3 neighbouring communities that do not support les jeux de l'Acadie. If our communities could afford funding of $50,000 it should be better spent than on something other than another French agenda event. There are many other worthy minority events that should be show cased before "les jeux de l'Acadie". I will be at the next meeting to ensure this viewpoint is being presented.
Official bilingualism has been in New Brunswick since 1969, yet we see Francophones becoming bilingual (71.4%) and Anglophones not so much (15.9%) 48 years later. The attempt to force the City of Ottawa to become "officially bilingual" is a problem that we face - its adoption will cause more divisiveness and expense, as we can see from what is happening in NB where the policy has worked mainly for the French-speaking minority. Our NB compatriots' comments to the Ottawa Francophone effort is much appreciated
Google translate -
FREDERICTON - New Brunswick has officially been bilingual since 1969, but the reality is different on the ground. Between indifference, incomprehension and even tensions, the Atlantic province lives, at its level, the two solitudes of Canada, according to the specialist of linguistic rights, Michel Doucet.
BENJAMIN VACHET email@example.com | @BVachet
"In New Brunswick, we share the same territory but we do not know each other. You can see it in the media: the English-speaking media do not talk about Francophone affairs and vice versa", says Michel Doucet, director of the International Observatory of Language Rights. "With social media, reactions come out faster and stronger, and a lot of false information circulates."
According to a 2010 survey by Continuum research, bilingualism in the province would be supported by 82% of New Brunswickers. For the former president of the Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick (SANB), Jean-Marie Nadeau, this percentage translates even daily.
"I have more and more anglophone and francophile friends who are sensitive to the cause of bilingualism."
The current SANB President, Kevin Arseneau, emphasizes that "the majority understands our issues much better today."
"My father-in-law remembers that when he went to Miramichi in the 1970s, he was hiding that he was a francophone. This is no longer the case today! " - Kevin Arseneau
But the figures seem to support Mr. Doucet. The great majority of the Anglophone community, although they say they support the equality of the two languages, does not speak French. In a province of 739,900 people, 32% of whom are Francophones and 65% of Anglophones, their bilingualism rate is only 15.9%, compared with 71.4% for Francophones.
This reality serves as an argument for groups that question the current bilingualism policy in New Brunswick, such as the Anglophone Rights Association of New Brunswick (ARANB), which judges that its community is not getting its fair share, Particularly in terms of access to the labor market.
"What we are asking for is an equitable distribution of government services and expenditures, as well as equitable access to employment. Bilingualism is very often required, while many of us do not speak French. In addition, the level requested is far too high, "said Rex Tracy, vice-president of the organization founded two years ago and which would bring together 2,000 people.
In her latest annual report, Katherine D'Entremont, Commissioner of Official Languages of New Brunswick, however, indicated that, according to the latest government data, only 41% of employees in government departments and agencies must be bilingual. It also noted that English-speaking unilingualism remains the majority in the senior civil service.
"There are many myths associated with bilingualism. People do not always understand the Official Languages Act and would like accommodations for francophones but not necessarily equal services, which is contrary to the law, "she says.
Not to mention a crisis, Mr. Arseneau acknowledges tensions, linked, according to him, with the economic problems of the province. In March, Statistics Canada found unemployment at 84% in New Brunswick, compared with 6.7% in Canada.
"In times of economic hardship, bilingualism becomes easy prey. But many of these people are facing the same challenges as us. "
According to Tracy, anger rumbles.
But the speech changed from the 1990s when the Confederation of Regions (COR) was the official opposition to the legislature.
"Previously, some groups wanted to get rid of bilingualism on the pretext that the majority of the population in the province is anglophone ... It's rubbish! When the province became bilingual, the Acadians were much less well-off than the rest of the population. Today, we find it normal that Acadians have access to services in their own language. The problem is that we have gone too far! "Says Tracy.
The accession of Blaine Higgs, a former CoR activist, to the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of New Brunswick, according to Doucet, shows that the strategy has also changed.
"Former CoR activists understood that they had to join more traditional parties and nuance their speech to get their message across."
For the majority of the speakers met by #ONfr , the Liberal government, which counts many Acadians and francophones, does not play its part to ease the tensions. On several occasions, the Minister responsible for official languages, Donald Arsenault, and Prime Minister Brian Gallant have attacked Ms. D'Entremont.
"The government abandoned it and a minority stigmatized it while it did a great job with a very small team. If the government better explained its role and its decisions, it would make a lot of sense, "says SANB's current president, Arseneau,
And even though the Prime Minister recently made a few statements to celebrate bilingualism, according to Mr. Nadeau, the damage had already been done.
"When they attacked Madame D'Entremont, it was a first time too many! They are more Liberals than Acadians. The same thing happens at the municipal level, in Moncton, where the majority of the Acadian council is dithering on the bilingual display ... Paradoxically, Prime Minister Hatfield, although unilingual anglophone, has served us more favorably. "
Minister Arseneault defends himself.
"Even if we do not always agree with the commissioner, we respect her independence and her opinion and we act by promoting bilingualism that brings us incredible economic benefits."
For Doucet, the minister's response reflects a trend almost 50 years after the first Official Languages Act of New Brunswick.
"The official languages remain taboo in the public square. The few times we talk about it, it's mainly to boast of the economic benefits, never to highlight the social and political benefits. The parties are afraid of a few minority vocal groups, because they know that to be re-elected, they cannot rely solely on the Acadian vote. "
In his opinion, this hesitation is illustrated by the absence of an official response from the government to the annual report of the Commissioner of Official Languages, handed over in June. And even when an information session on the Official Languages Act is held in the legislature, the event is shunned by a large majority of MPs, Doucet reports.
"The government and members of Parliament have a leadership role to play, but the problem is that they do not understand the Official Languages Act itself and its obligations. How could they explain it and convince the population? "
Our NB compatriots' comments to the Ottawa Francophone effort are much appreciated.
Francophone group urges council to adopt 'Ottawa-specific' bilingualism for 2017
Support from English-speakers in ON & NB
Stephen Cousins ·
About 70% of the Canada Day ceremonies and acts on Parliament Hill were French. These people are just looking for a way they can dig into this place even more. It gives people more opportunity to celebrate their heritage? How about accurate representation of the heritage of the people here? The heritage of Ottawa... not just Francophones. Sorry, but this is not about equality or the heritage of this place. This is about Francophones pushing their language and heritage only. It is already unfair and unequal. I am against "official" unfairness. A person with skills and qualifications who speaks English should be able to get a job in Ontario before someone less skilled who speaks English and French. I'd love to celebrate the heritage of this city with an Irish festival... a bilingual one... Gaelic and English.
Stephen Leafloor ·
I'm sorry, the City of Ottawa doesn't need to strengthen its bilingualism laws, the NCC, which encompasses much of the city, is already bilingual. The rest of Canada is tired of Quebec trying to shove french down its throats when Quebec makes no exceptions for its own french only bill 101.
Beth Wilkinson ·
Marc Belanger , you have been afforded the privilege of being french and learning english, well, I can tell you that in NB the only official bilingual province, after 50 years the french immersion program for English-speaking students does not meet gov't standards, and our gov't past and present do nothing about it, it is ethnic cleansing Bilingual is being mandated not only within the gov't, but for promotions, and now in the private sector, and after 50yrs, the French/bililngual are only 34% of our population, yet if our OLA Comm has her way, all positions will be madated bilingual. Currently gov't jobs in NB for 2015 72% French/bililngual, is that equality, not in my eyes. We are bringing in Quebec immigrants taking jobs from unilingual English-speaking, skills and experience mean nothing here in NB. Availability exceeds demands, plain and simple. The OLA states as does the Constitution that both official language are to be of equal status and have equal rights, not here in NB. It is going French-only, and that is wrong. Do not allow the French, the minority to dictate and change laws, English have rights Too! And it's time we started demanding equality, our cultures (rish, Scottish, English, etc...) are being ignored, and it has to stop. And BTW you are wrong, Mr. Belanger, here in NB "bilingual" status is a job requirement for most positions and any promotions, you can't even apply for positions without it, and since the education standards don't meet gov't standards, it is next to impossible for an English-speaking person to attain bilingual status.
(Before I get accused of being anti-French, read the name) Francophone services are more than adequate in Ottawa. I will say about this what I've said about Québec for years: If you need a law to preserve your language, you don't deserve to keep it. Says the dad of a tri and a quadri-lingual girl.
A true democratic solution is to poll "EVERY CANADIAN" on the voting list that are allowed to vote, choices being;
1) French only
2) English only
Allow the majority of Canadians decide.
Why not ? Afraid ?
Non democratic solution is dictatorship
Put it to a vote!!
Don't do it, please, it's has destroyed our beautiful Province of NB and sucked every penny out of our coffers. DON'T DO IT! We have 45 years experience and only if we had a referendum a VOICE we lost that with Bilingualism, we've lost that RIGHT and many more. If NB were a democracy it would be gone forever, from New Brunswick!
As a New Brunswicker, fight this as if your life depends on it - because it will! Official bilingualism with break your province, divide your people and put your life in chaos. Our debt is $466 million dollars, partly because it costs $85 to $100 million dollars a year JUST to pay for bilingualism. Don't do it - fight it with everything you. It has done nothing in New Brunswick but cause division and despair among both language groups - with your kids leaving the province because they can't get government jobs unless they are bilingual, EVEN AFTER they have graduated from the government immersion program! It's a government plan for French supremacy - don't fall for it.
Markus Harvey ·
I'm from New Brunswick. We've been officially bilingual since 1969. It's a complete and total nightmare! For the love of God Ottawa, take a long hard look at the disaster we're living right now.
Our Liberal government segregates our school children on separate busses based on language! I'm not kidding.
People are getting fired or replaced constantly because they don't speak French in our majority English province.
We have French and English hospitals....no, once again I'm not kidding. In 90% English speaking Fredericton we have elderly people clogging up hospital rooms waiting for beds in old age homes yet there is enough money for them to put in an all French cafe and....AND they have students from the French Universite de Moncton posing as patients spying on workers in the English hospitals making sure they say 'Bonjour' when they greet someone! Un huh...still not kidding.
Our unemployment rate averages around 10% yet every year the Libs send 70-80 people to France and other French speaking nations for months at a time trying to recruit people to come over to our 'French province of Acadia' and work! Yeah....I know you don't believe me, but I'm not kidding. Look it up, it's called Experience Acadie. It's serious.
My 10yo may get sent to another city for school because the NB government won't spend $9 million to upgrade an English school due to overcrowding. The Liberals say NB doesn't have the money and in the same breath give Dieppe $34 million to build a new French school to deal with.....yep.....wait for it....overcrowding!!!
Don't do it. Don't allow it. Fight it with all of your being before it's too late.
Dennis Combe ·
Those that speak French do. Those who don't, don't. There's nothing wrong with that. It's a violation of human rights to force people to adopt a language.
I am from NB. Trust me when I say you do not want to do this. It has been nothing but divisive in our province and getting worse. If this passes it will only be a matter of time that the french elite begin demanding the french language with every person they come in contact with immediately, whether government or private. Our English children cannot even get part time jobs at Tim Hortons, retail, etc without coming across these verbally abusive people daily. Now that we have these laws in place the govt is being pressured to have senior govt officials bilingual by 2020. French immersion in our province has not worked for over 40 years. 1 in 4 english children enter and out of over 6000 students last year, 291 graduated with their French certificate, very few at the level accepted by govt for a govt job! Official bilingualism is nothing but an underhanded way to promote forced frenchification and provide guaranteed jobs for french mother tongue. In a discussion with a teacher from the french school system, she admitted french is a harder language to learn and if you are not born into it you are extremely disadvantaged. We are 68% english in our province. The latest provincial job bank figures show 81% of positions requiring bilingualism- meaning french. Two postings were for the exact same position - one in a french community requiring french only -one in an english community requiring bilingualism. We have segregation now being asked for by the french in a court proceeding. Seriously, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried, absolutely absurd!
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