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International Francophonie Day – March 20

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International Francophonie Day was established in 1988. It’s celebrated every year on March 20 with a focus on sharing and appreciating the French language and francophone culture. Today there are over 300 million francophones living across five continents.

This day is about celebrating the French language and francophone culture, and supports the work of the International Organisation of La Francophonie. The group organizes political activities and actions that represent cultural and linguistic diversity, and promotes the French language, respect for human rights, peace and sustainable development.

In Ontario, francophone culture has a rich history. Our province celebrated 400 years of French presence in 2015 by commemorating Samuel de Champlain’s exploration of Ontario. With the help of the Wendat (Huron) and Anishinaabe, his First Nations guides and allies, the land that is known as present-day Ontario served as the longest, most extensive and westernmost point of his travels. According to the 2016 census, there are 622,415 francophones in the province.

In 2019, the federal and Ontario governments formally committed to the creation of the Université de l’Ontario français (UOF). It will be located in downtown Toronto and it’s preparing to welcome students this fall.

UOF plans to offer four undergraduate study programs as bachelor’s degrees with a focus on social sciences and urban planning. Other plans include French-language focused management, health professions and education courses.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to limit the ways in which we can all gather and celebrate. However, we are proud of the contributions that OPSEU/SEFPO’s francophone members continue to make in our communities, province and union.

Célébrons ensemble! Stronger together!