Quebec is injecting $1.5 million into the promotion of the French language in Montreal over the next three years.
Although the metropolis is officially a French-speaking city, it is where English is used the most in Quebec and the authorities want to change that.
“What we want is for French to become the language of the heart. Let this become the common language,” said the mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante.
The money will be used to fund cultural and learning activities, including a program for new immigrants to learn French.
“We’re going to look at the culture, the museums, the things that are very related to the city and we’ll use the French language to make sure they learn new words and can get into places they couldn’t get into. otherwise”, explains Olivier Bertin Mailleux of the a*sociation. Fondation Paul Gérin-Lajoie, one of the funded organizations.
The goal is to make people fall in love with French, including English speakers.
“I remember Josh Freed in the Gazette saying, you know, the Anglos in Quebec, we have a particularity, we are the only ones who go to the convenience store. I think what needs to be done is to foster this common pride in the French language,” said Dominique Ollivier, president of the city’s executive committee.
Although French is the official language of Montreal, the largest number of English speakers in Quebec live in the city. Statistics Canada reports that over 1.2 million people use English as their mother tongue.
Officials say the aim is not to devalue other languages but to encourage the use of French, as it is in decline.
The latest census data shows that the percentage of Canadians who speak mainly French at home has decreased slightly.
This is one of the reasons why Quebec introduced Bill 96, the reform of the French language law which restricts access to government services in English.
“I think we can promote the French language as a common language while respecting the rights of traditions and of our English-speaking community here,” said Jean-Francois Roberge, Quebec’s French language minister.
The Mouvement Québec Français, an organization dedicated to promoting and defending the French language, says the money is not enough, adding that the government should instead inject more money into French-language universities and tighten laws further. linguistics.
“These are crumbs that go to small measures,” says Maxime Laporte, director of the Mouvement Québec Français.
Roberge says he is aware that this investment will not be enough to stop the decline of French, but he says that every effort counts.
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