Canada's Participation in La Francophonie

Canada’s participation in La Francophonie means belonging to the large community of 77 states and governments (57 members and 20 observers) using French as a common language. This network extends from Europe to the Middle East, from Africa across the Indian Ocean to the Pacific, to the Americas and the Caribbean, encompassing 900 million people and 220 million Francophones.

Canada's involvement in La Francophonie highlights the country's linguistic duality and its attachment to the shared values of La Francophonie. Canada particularly endeavours to further democratic development, respect for human rights, strengthening of the rule of law, peace and security, poverty reduction and sustainable development. Participation in La Francophonie gives Canadians more opportunities to wield international influence in the areas of language and culture, economics and new technologies, and international cooperation. It allows the rest of the world truly to appreciate Canada’s unique contribution to modernizing La Francophonie and making it receptive to diversity.

Canada and the Building of La Francophonie

Canada was one of the first countries to promote La Francophonie by actively participating in the creation and development of its institutions. It was thus a Canadian, Jean-Marc Léger, who spearheaded the creation of the University Agency of La Francophonie (AUF) in 1961. Later, in 1979, the mayors of Paris and Quebec City led the initiative to create the International Association of Mayors and Officials of Partially or Wholly French-speaking Capitals and Cities (AIMF).

Canada was also one of the founding members of the Cultural and Technical Cooperation Agency, created in Niamey in 1970, which later became the Intergovernmental Agency of La Francophonie, then the International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF) in 2005.

Moreover, Canada encouraged La Francophonie to make a political shift by helping to hold summits (« Francophonie summits »), by creating the position of Secretary General and by adopting the Bamako Declaration, which confirms La Francophonie’s attachment to democracy and human rights.

Canada also supported institutional reforms implemented to increase the effectiveness and consistency of La Francophonie’s institutions. Canada was a principal stakeholder in the development of La Francophonie’s 2005‑2014 ten‑year strategic framework, adopted at the Ouagadougou Summit in 2004, which defines La Francophonie’s four basic mandates:

  1. to promote the French language, as well as cultural and linguistic diversity;
  2. to promote peace, democracy and human rights;
  3. to support education, training, higher education and research;
  4. to develop cooperation for sustainable development.

In this context, Canada decided to support the IOF in implementing reforms to make Francophone cooperation more effective, and its management procedures stricter and more transparent, by tightening programming and by adopting results-based management principles.

Canada’s Hosting of Francophone Summits

Canada has hosted the Francophone Summit on three occasions: the Quebec City Summit in 1987, the Moncton Summit in 1999 and the Quebec City Summit in 2008, the 400th anniversary of the city’s founding.

Canada has hosted several Ministerial Conferences of La Francophonie, including the first Conference of Francophone Ministers Responsible for the Information Highway in 1997; the Ministerial Conference of La Francophonie on Conflict Prevention and Human Security, held in May 2006 in Saint Boniface, Manitoba; and the 24th Ministerial Conference of La Francophonie, held in Quebec City in October 2008. Canada also hosted the Fourth Francophone Games in Ottawa/Hull in 2001.

In July 2012, Quebec City (Canada-Quebec delegation) hosted the first French Language World Forum, bringing together some 2000 Francophone and Francophile civil-society participants from 93 countries to think about and discuss the current and future role of the French language.

Two institutions are headquartered in Canada: the University Agency of La Francophonie (AUF) in Montreal and the Institute for Sustainable Development of La Francophonie (IFDD), a subsidiary agency of the IOF, in Quebec City.

Participation of Provinces and Territories

Canada has always sought to involve all of the provinces and territories in its activities in La Francophonie, in the interest of all Canadians.

Quebec and New Brunswick respectively joined La Francophonie in 1971 and 1977. Both have seats separate from Canada’s in the various institutions of La Francophonie and the decision-making bodies of operating agencies. These seats are referred to as Canada-Quebec and Canada-New Brunswick.

Traditionally, representatives of Canada’s other provinces and territories are invited to join the Canadian delegation at summits. They are also regularly invited to take part in the activities of operators or agencies associated with La Francophonie.

La Francophonie’s Recent and Future Major Events

Seventh Francophone Games, Nice 2013

A recent event for La Francophonie was the Seventh Francophone Games in Nice, France, from September 7 to 15, 2013. The Francophone Games are a unique combination of culture and sports. For young participants, they are an opportunity to celebrate the French fact, as well as cultural diversity and excellence in sports, values that Canada cherishes.

The Canadian delegation at the Nice Games was made up of three teams: Team Canada, Team Canada-Quebec and Team Canada-New Brunswick. Team Canada alone numbered more than 200 participants.

Kinshasa Summit, 2012

The last Francophone Summit was held in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), from October 12 to 14, 2012. This was a key step in extending the IOF’s influence in Central Africa and generally throughout Africa. The Kinshasa Summit reaffirmed the relevance of La Francophonie in managing key current global issues. The Summit’s theme and main focus was “Economic and Environment Issues in the face of Global Governance”.

Canada hopes to achieve measurable progress in meeting the commitments made in the Kinshasa Declaration and resolutions on 1) the situation in Mali; 2) the situation in the DRC; 3) piracy in the Gulf of Guinea; 4) good governance of the extractive and forest industries; and 5) crisis situations, crisis recovery and peacebuilding in La Francophonie. One of the commitments of the Kinshasa Declaration, the development of an economic strategy for La Francophonie, is a priority for Canada.

Dakar Summit, 2014

The next Francophone Summit will be held in Dakar, Senegal, in November 2014. Canada is committed to making this summit a success.