Cultural diversity has been a defining element of Alberta since its early days. The province is filled with an amazing array of diverse individuals who come from countries around the world.
Francophone heritage: founders
As mentioned in last week’s blog post, French was the first European language spoken in the province. However, did you know that francophone heritage in Alberta dates back to the early days of the fur trade? It’s true! When early Montreal entrepreneurs came to the north-western region of Canada in search of adventure and business opportunities, they chose First Nations women as their brides. As a result, the first francophone communities – Métis communities – were established. Over the following 200-year-period, francophones helped settle the west, contributing to the development of the territory that would eventually become Alberta.
What’s in a name?
As a result, traces of Alberta’s rich francophone heritage can be found in the names of many of the province’s towns and villages such asBeaumont,Brosseau,Grande Prairie,andLacombe.
Over the years, most English-speaking Albertans anglicized pronunciation of these names, so that the municipality of Grande Prairie, despite a French spelling is often pronounced as “Grand” Prairie. Given this anglicization, many Albertans might not realize just how francophone their communities are, even those who live there!
Alberta and the francophone community
- More than 81,000 francophone Albertans, or Franco-Albertans, call Alberta home. More than 390,000 Albertans are of French descent and approximately 238,000 Albertans speak French.
- While Franco-Albertans can be found in almost every community across the province, the greatest concentration is in the two major metropolitan areas of Edmonton and Calgary. Several communities in northern Alberta, particularly in the areas of Peace River and St. Paul, are predominantly francophone.
- FourAlberta municipalitiesare officially bilingual: Beaumont, Legal,Falher and Plamondon.
- Alberta has the highest francophone population net growth in Canada after Québec and Ontario.
In addition to the services, supports and resources available in French through the government of Alberta, there are more than 100 francophone community organizations that support French speakers in a variety of sectors such as seniors, arts, culture, health, employment and settlement services.
The province is also home to important francophone institutions that have helped advance the interests of the community. To learn more about Alberta’s francophones, check out Alberta’s Francophone Community: Strong and Vibrant.
Rendez-vous events: Get involved!
The Rendez-vous de la Francophonie (RVF) is a two week celebration that runs until March 22 and aims to recognize and celebrate the economic, social and political contributions of francophones in their communities.
While the RVF is a pan-Canadian initiative, many celebrations, gatherings and other events take place right here in Alberta! Everything from symbolic flag-raising ceremonies, traditional sugar shacks, film screenings and theatre performances are included in the celebrations to ensure there is something for everyone.
To find out more about events happening in Alberta during the Rendez-vous de la Francophonie, visit the events calendar. We hope to see you at an event!