Posted on Mar 14, 2018

Recognizing Alberta's Francophonie

By Marg McCuaig-Boyd, MLA for Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley

My fellow constituents, MLA Marg McCuaig-Boyd, Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley On June 14, 2017, the Government of Alberta unveiled the province’s first-ever comprehensive French Policy that aims to enhance services in French to support the vitality of the Francophonie.

The French Policy, outlines the guiding principles the province will use to help maintain existing and develop new French-language services and supports within available resources. The policy also aims to promote greater recognition for the past and present contributions of Alberta‘s Francophonie.

Recruitment recently wrapped up for the province’s new Alberta Advisory Council on the Francophonie. The council will advise the Minister of Culture and Tourism, responsible for the Francophone Secretariat, on the implementation of Alberta‘s French Policy. The council will help ensure the francophone community, in all its geographical, cultural and demographic diversity, is represented and that French speaking Albertans have a voice in the policy’s ongoing implementation.

The council will have 10 members, drawn from a cross-section of people who can represent the diversity and vitality of Alberta‘s francophone community. The council will be in place by fall 2018.

There are more than 268,000 Albertans who speak French and more than 418,000 Albertans are of French/French-Canadian descent additionally enrolment in francophone schools has increased by almost 200 per cent in Alberta since 1996. This council and Alberta‘s French policy will set our province up for success.

Last week the Alberta government also proclaimed March as Alberta Francophonie Month in the province. Alberta Francophonie Month complements the annual Rendez-vous de la Francophonie celebrations taking place across Canada from March 1-21.

The month-long celebration kicked off with Francophone students participating in flag-raising events in Edmonton and Calgary with the annual flag raising in Falher also planned for March 8th.

Officially raised for the first time on Alberta government grounds in 2017, the Franco-Albertan flag takes on a new significance this year by becoming a Symbol of Distinction under the Emblems of Alberta Act.

As Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism put it: “March provides an opportunity to showcase the vibrancy and energy the Francophonie brings to our province, and to honour one of Canada’s official languages. This proclamation recognizes French-speaking Albertans whose contributions to the province began in the 1700s, and who comprise one of the fastest-growing and
most culturally diverse French-speaking populations in Canada.” I couldn’t agree more!

Additionally I wanted to use this opportunity to mention a couple of youth programs with deadlines quickly approaching.

First is the Education Minister‘s Youth Council. Approximately 32 junior and senior high school students will be selected for the council. As members, students will meet with the Minister of Education and Alberta Education staff throughout the 2018/19 school year to discuss their education priorities and issues.

The council gives students the opportunity to build their leadership skills, make an impact on the education system and leave a legacy that will last well into the future. The deadline to apply is March 30, 2018.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker´s MLA for a Day program. Mr. Speaker´s MLA for a Day gives Alberta high school students from Grades 10 to 12 the chance to find out what it really means to be an MLA.

Participants learn more about the role of an MLA and experience firsthand what it’s like to deal with diverse points of view when making decisions on provincial issues.

Students from across Alberta will spend three days in Edmonton, in and around the site of the Alberta Legislature. In addition to touring the grounds and building, they will visit the office of their MLA, attend a formal dinner hosted by the Speaker and participate in a variety of fun activities.

The program is packed with exciting educational opportunities leading up to a debate in the Assembly Chamber itself. The program is free of cost to participants, including travel and accommodation expenses.

For more information on any of these programs, please feel free to look online or stop by our constituency offices in Fairview or Falher.

Finally, I wanted to remind everyone about a free service available through our offices: congratulatory scrolls. If you or someone you know is celebrating a significant wedding anniversary or a significant birthday (65+) and you would like a congratulatory message from me, the Premier, your MP, and/or the Prime Minister please reach out to our constituency offices and we’d be more
than happy to help.

First published March 14, 2018, in the Fairview Post.