Canada and La Francophonie

La Francophonie is a group of 88 states and member governments and observers that share French as a common language, as well as values in common. It is an important player in international relations that represents 1 billion people, including 300 million Francophones, on the five continents.

La Francophonie was established on March 20, 1970, at the Niamey Conference in Niger, with the creation of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation (ACCT), which became the International Organisation of La Francophonie (IOF) in 2005. The IOF is now at the centre of a network of organizations that make up the institutional Francophonie.

Alongside the Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie (APF) and four operators the University Agency of La Francophonie (AUF), TV5MONDE, the International Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF), and Senghor University in Alexandria, the IOF is implementing multilateral cooperation in order to find solutions to the major challenges of the Francophone world. The IOF’s four missions are to promote the French language, and cultural and linguistic diversity; to promote peace, democracy, and human rights; to support education, training, higher education, and research; and to develop economic cooperation aimed at supporting sustainable development.

Louise Mushikiwabo was appointed Secretary General of La Francophonie at the 17th Summit of La Francophonie held in Yerevan, Armenia, and has held this position since January 2019. The Secretary General leads the political activity of La Francophonie as its official spokesperson and representative on the international stage.

Discover how Canada is directly involved with La Francophonie.

Learn more about Canada’s historical participation in La Francophonie.

La Francophonie is composed of a number of institutions and organizations.

What Canada is doing

Canada is one of the founding countries and an active member of the IOF, in which it has continued its strong and sustained engagement for over 50 years. The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs, is responsible for La Francophonie. He is supported in this task by the personal representative of the Prime Minister of Canada for La Francophonie (sherpa), Ambassador Isabelle Hudon.

Canada is the second largest donor to the Francophonie’s institutions, with contributions totalling nearly $42 million in 2020. Its financial support, in particular to the IOF, contributes to achieving the missions of La Francophonie, defined in La Francophonie’s 2015-2022 strategic framework and illustrated in the IOF’s 2019-2022 programming.

Canada’s participation in La Francophonie enables it to promote its values and advance its foreign policy and development priorities in the Francophone world. Canada’s weight within La Francophonie is strengthened by the engagement of the provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec as member governments and Ontario as an observer government.

Canada is very visible within the institutions of the Francophonie. For example:

  • Several times in the past, Canadians have held the positions of Secretary General and Director of the IOF. This is the case with the current director, Geoffroi Montpetit, who was appointed in February 2021.
  • Two Francophonie institutions are headquartered in Canada: l’Institut de la Francophonie pour le développement durable (IFDD), in the city of Québec, and the University Agency of La Francophonie (AUF) in Montréal. The AUF boasts more than 30 Canadian higher education and research institutions among its ranks.
  • Two Canadian cities are active within the International Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF), Montréal and Québec, as well as three federations of municipalities.
  • The legislative assemblies of Canada and five provinces (Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec) are members of the Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie (APF). Four other provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan) are also participants.
  • Canada is one of the five donor governments for TV5Monde, the largest French language television network. TV5MONDE broadcasts Francophone productions, including Canadian programs, in more than 200 countries and territories.

Canada’s actions within La Francophonie are aimed at promoting democracy, gender equality, and conflict prevention; refocusing La Francophonie on the French language and its values; supporting the continuous improvement of the governance, transparency and effectiveness of La Francophonie’s institutions; and providing international visibility for the Canadian Francophonie, particularly minority communities.

Over the past few years, Canada’s direct contributions to the institutions of the Francophonie have helped advance our key priorities, for example, through the following flagship projects:

Visibility of French and the digital space

  • Creation and launch of TV5MONDEplus in September 2020, thanks to an investment by Canada (Canadian Heritage) of $14.6 million over five years, making Canada the first major contributor to this new digital platform. TV5MONDEplus is available free of charge in nearly 200 countries, increasing the online presence of French-language content, contributing to the visibility of Canadian productions, and strengthening the discoverability of French-language programs on the international scene.
  • Creation of a Francophonie-TV5MONDEplus fund in March 2021 that, supported by an initial Canadian contribution of $500,000, seeks to ensure greater representation of content from La Francophonie, including from countries of the South.

Women and gender equality

  • A total of $100,000 in financial support for the creation of the new gender equality unit of the IOF, which works to integrate gender equality into all IOF programming.
  • A total of $100,000 in financial support in the form of scholarships to enable African students to continue their graduate studies at Senghor University in Alexandria.

Democracy and Human Rights

  • Contribution of $110,000 to improve civil registration practices, in particular the non registration of girls, in rural areas in Africa and Haiti.

Youth

  • Contribution of $100,000 to support a broad consultation of Francophone youth, particularly African youth, on the identity and future of La Francophonie.

Economic development

  • A total of $80,000 for grants to enable African researchers and students to participate in the second conference of the Observatoire de la Francophonie économique in Rabat, Morocco.

Response to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • A total of $500,000 in financial support for the La Francophonie avec Elles solidarity fund created by the IOF in 2020 to strengthen the resilience of women and girls in vulnerable situations, including economic ones, in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The IOF has created a COVID-19 Solidarity platform to share innovative solutions in the Francophone world to fight the health crisis and its consequences.
  • The establishment by the Observatoire de la Francophonie économique (OFE), based in Montréal, of means to monitor the economic impact of the pandemic in the Francophone world.

History of Canada’s participation in La Francophonie

In 1970, Canada was a founding member of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation, which became the IOF in 2005. Canada has worked actively within the international Francophonie since its inception. With the support of its provincial partners, it was one of the first countries to promote La Francophonie and has supported the creation of its institutions, including:

  • 1961 - The creation of the University Agency of La Francophonie (AUF), a university network that currently has 842 members in 111 countries, with its head office in Montréal.
  • 1979 - Creation of the International Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF) on the initiative of the mayors of Paris and the city of Québec, Jacques Chirac and Jean Pelletier. The AIMF currently has 272 member cities and associations of local elected representatives.
  • 1988 - the creation of TV5 Québec Canada, one of two operating agencies with TV5’s TV5Monde offering programming that promotes the cultural, social and linguistic diversity of the Canadian and international Francophonie.
  • 2019 - Creation of TV5MONDEplus, a French-language digital platform for the dissemination of Francophone audiovisual productions worldwide.

Canada played a leading role in the evolution of La Francophonie in favour of developing its political, economic and cooperative mandates.

  • Canada encouraged La Francophonie to further commit to defending democratic values and human rights, and through the Bamako Declaration (2000) and the Saint-Boniface Declaration (2006), to adopt a mechanism to react to political and social crises that arise in the Francophone world.
  • Canada has also been a leader in the development of an economic mandate within La Francophonie. It has distinguished itself by its support for the development and implementation of the La Francophonie’s Economic Strategy. Through a significant contribution of $10 million (2015–2019), Canada made possible the implementation of an IOF program that seeks to promote employment through entrepreneurship for women and youth in Sub-Saharan Francophone Africa. More than 27,000 youth and women in 13 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa benefited from the support and guidance offered by this program.
  • Canada played a decisive role in the development and adoption of the La Francophonie Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality and the Rights and Empowerment of Women and Girls at the Yerevan Summit in 2018.
  • For several years, Canada has actively supported institutional reforms within La Francophonie that seek to equip its institutions with the tools required to increase effectiveness and transparency, and to achieve better results. Canada is behind the IOF’s first transparency consolidation policy, adopted at the Yerevan Summit in Armenia in 2018. With Canada’s support, the IOF integrated results-based management into its practices and modernized its administrative and financial management tools. Canada also supports the IOF’s efforts to refocus its programming on high value-added projects in order to better meet the needs of the populations of the Francophone world.

Summits of La Francophonie, which are held every two years, are an opportunity for Canada to demonstrate its commitment to the international Francophonie. Three summits have been held in Canada to date:

Québec Summit (2008)

The Québec Summit in 2008 led to the adoption of the Québec Declaration, which made concrete proposals on four major issues: the environment, the French language, democracy and the rule of law, and economic governance. This summit was co-chaired by Canada and Quebec, and benefited from New Brunswick’s participation as a partner.

Moncton Summit (1999)

The Moncton Summit led to the organization of three major sectoral conferences: the Conference of Women of La Francophonie (Luxembourg, February 2000) on the theme of “Women, Power and Development;” an international symposium on the practices of democracy, rights and freedoms in La Francophonie (Bamako, Mali, November 2000) leading to the adoption of the Bamako Declaration, a key document for La Francophonie; and a ministerial conference on culture (Cotonou, Benin, June 2001) which produced the Cotonou Declaration on the issue and the promotion of cultural diversity, preparing the way for ratification in 2005 of the International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (UNESCO).

Québec Summit (1987)

The Québec Summit identified the priority areas of La Francophonie: culture, communications, language, technological development, science, energy and agriculture. It was also during this summit that the Francophone Business Forum and the Institute for Sustainable Development of La Francophonie (IFDD) were formed. The IFDD’s head office is in Québec.

La Francophonie institutions at your fingertips

La Francophonie is composed of a number of institutions and organizations, each with its own area of expertise and activity:

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