OPSEU Provincial Francophone Committee

International Francophonie Day 2015


Message from the Chair

On March 20, 2015, we celebrate International Francophonie Day and UN French Language Day.

International Francophonie Day strives to create a space of solidarity, one based on the principles of humanity, democracy, and respect for cultural and linguistic diversity of all. This day was first initiated by the International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF) and celebrates the signing of the Niamey Convention in Niger on March 20, 1970. The convention established the Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, a precursor to the International Organization of La Francophonie. This is an organization comprised of countries and/or regions where French is the first language, where there is a significant association with the culture of France, and where a large section of the population is comprised of French speakers or francophones.

UN French Language Day celebrates the cultural diversity of France in a similar way. French is one of the six official languages of the United Nations with the others being: Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian and English. Moreover, the working languages of the UN Secretariat are English and French. In 2010, UNESCO declared that all six official languages should have its own special day. March 20 is UN French Language Day because it coincides with the celebration of International Day of Francophonie. This day (UN French Language Day) was chosen in 2010 because it coincided with the celebration of the 40th year of the International Organization of La Francophonie.

Now is a good time to celebrate our cultural diversity. It is a great opportunity to break down the barriers of communication in order to ensure that we can come together as a team. Our large francophone group is an integral part of our identity and contributes to our unique character.

Canada and La Francophonie:

  • Active and a founding member of the IOF and has supported the growth and development of La Francophonie institutions.
  • The second largest donor to La Francophonie, after France.  It contributed more than 38 million dollars in 2013-2014 in assessed and voluntary contributions.
  • Hosted Francophone Summits on three occasions: Quebec City (1987), Moncton (1999) and Quebec City (2008) in conjunction with the 400th anniversary of the founding of the city.
  • Michaëlle Jean, Former Governor General of Canada, currently serves as the third Secretary-General of the IOF.  She is the first woman to hold this position.
  • Quebec and New Brunswick joined La Francophonie in 1971 and 1977, respectively.  They have seats separate from Canada's in the IOF's various institutions and decision-making bodies of operating agencies.  They are referred to as Canada-Quebec and Canada-New Brunswick.  This does not take away from Canada's position of defending the values of all Canadians in La Francophonie's international context.

Some additional interesting facts:

  • There are an estimated 274 million French speakers worldwide.
  • French is the 9th most widely spoken language on the planet.  Together with English, it is spoken on all five continents.
  • 60% of French speakers are under 30 years old.
  • At 5%, French is the 3rd most widely used language on the Web.  It is behind English (45%) and German (7%) but ahead of Spanish (4.5%).
  • There are 96.2 million French-speakers in Africa.  This is the most of all five continents where French is spoken.
  • The International Organization of La Francophonie comprises of 80 member states and governments (including 23 observers). In 2008, this organization represented a total of 900 million people, or 13% of the world’s population.
  • The International Organization of La Francophonie’s 80 member states and governments represent over one-third of the United Nations' member states.
  • French is the 2nd most widely spoken first language in the European Union at 16%.  It is after German (23%) but ahead of English (15.9%).
  • French is the 2nd most widely spoken foreign language in the European Union at19%. It is behind English (41%) but ahead of German (10%) and Spanish (7%).

I would like to wish you, your family and friends the best during this day.

In solidarity,

André Savoie, Chair
Provincial Francophone Committee

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