Francophones and Francophiles across the planet today celebrate the International Day of the Francophonie. Propelled by the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) under the theme "The Power of Words", this day allows 274 million Francophones from five continents to celebrate their language and the diversity of the Francophonie. In recognition of this important day, it’s valuable to emphasize how fortunate we are, as Anglophone Canadians, to have the opportunity to participate as second language speakers in the worldwide Francophonie. Below, I’ve translated some of the highlights of my Francophone colleague, Philippe’s post today, because I think it draws attention to why our children and children’s children and their children will benefit so greatly from this opportunity as well.
Here in Canada, since March 3rd we’ve been celebrating our own Francophonie in 3D in the Rendez-vous de la Francophonie 2016. Our dynamism, our diversity and linguistic duality are at the heart of thousands of activities in each province and territory. And that's not all: Canadian celebrations will continue until Wednesday to demonstrate the importance of the French language in our communities...It’s as if at home, one day is not enough!
As Canadians, we actively participate in the diversity of the global Francophonie that continues to grow. Already one of the most spoken languages worldwide, according to some predictions, French could surpass even English and Mandarin within the next 40 years. Estimated at 180 million in 2000 and 220 million in 2010, the number of Francophones will approach 700 million by 2050.
Africans will play a major role in this growth, while according to the OIF, they represent 85% of the Francophone population worldwide. Today there are (only) 274 million Francophones...Imagine the boom!
If this vision of the global Francophonie materializes, we will have a head start in Canada. Our strength may not be found in the numbers but in the quality of our national Francophonie. Francophones already greatly contribute to the economic and cultural life of the nation.
While English may remain the language of international business, bilingual markets like ours will certainly enjoy the demographic explosion of French worldwide. To maintain our edge, we will of course continue our efforts to integrate and diversify the French language and culture.
Looking into the crystal ball, it’s clear that, whether they’re a part of the majority or not, Acadian and Francophone businesses will boom in the coming decades as they work in harmony with a diversity of other cultures. Our Francophone artists will continue to flourish on the world stage as well, not only as representatives of the Francophonie, but of Canada, too.
We will also continue to welcome more and more French-speaking immigrants, who will strengthen the language duality we are proud to uphold, who will add to the boons of Canadian cultural diversity, and who will energize our economy and participation in the Francophonie worldwide.
The future offers us a strong global Francophonie, and Canadians can be proud that we will be the main builders.
Until then, let us celebrate the Francophonie, Francophones and Francophiles from here or elsewhere!