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Sunday, 1 May 2016

Franco-Canadian Language Fixation and Ethnomasochism in Manitoba

by Rick Balder, contributing to Ocean Drive

Franco-Manitoban flag
Franco-Manitoban flag

The leaders of Francophone communities in Canada tend to be obsessed with the preservation and promotion of the French language. Since the conquest of Canada by Great Britain in the mid-eighteenth century, there has been a historic struggle to maintain the French language in the face of the linguistic domination of the English language in Canada. So the obsession with the defense of the French language among certain Francophones in Canada is largely understandable.

Struggle for Language Rights

The Province of Québec, with its six million Francophones (80% of the population), has been the most obvious area in which Francophones have asserted their French-language rights. In 1977, the National Assembly of Québec passed Bill 101, known as the "Charter of the French language", a legal document which establishes French as the official language of Québec and which guarantees the predominance of the French language in Québec.

Outside of Québec, the struggle to maintain French has been in the context of relatively small Francophone communities located in predominantly Anglophone provinces. When the province of Manitoba was established in 1870, French language rights were guaranteed (through the efforts of Archbishop Taché of St. Boniface and Louis Riel). But the increasing predominance of Anglophones in Manitoba led to the removal of funding for French Catholic schools and to the eventual abolition of French language education in Manitoba in 1916.

In the past few decades, French language rights have been completely restored in Manitoba. Among other victories for Francophones in Manitoba, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1985 that the laws of Manitoba had to be in French as well as English. So the leaders of the Francophones in Manitoba should be happy. But they're not. And the only reason they're not happy is becaused they're obsessed.

Obsession with Language

People who are obsessed don't acknowledge reason or common sense. The leaders of the Franco-Manitoban community don't just want French language rights, you see. They want to push the French language down the throats (or ears, I guess) of every single resident of Manitoba, whether they like it or not.

The leaders of the Franco-Manitoban community don't care if most people have no use for the French language. To the leaders of the Franco-Manitoban community, nothing else could ever possibly be nearly as important as making sure that the French language be seen and heard from every square inch of Manitoba. And I'm sure these leaders of the Franco-Manitoban community have trouble sleeping at night if they feel that they haven't gotten enough funding from the Federal and Provincial governments for their Francophone projects and programs.

Demographic Plight

Of course, there is always the danger that the Francophone population of Manitoba will decline (which would undoubtedly have a detrimental effect on government funding). When Francophones marry Anglophones in Manitoba, the children often grow up not speaking French. Also, some Franco-Manitobans emigrate to better-off provinces like Alberta and British Columbia (which have smaller Francophone communities). And like modern White populations in general, the historical French-Canadian population of Manitoba is not reproducing enough and is only getting older and older. So there are real demographic problems facing the Franco-Manitoban community.

Ethnomasochist Self-defeat

L'Accueil francophone des nouveaux immigrants
L'Accueil francophone des nouveaux immigrants, une initiative de la Société franco-manitobaine

There is an effort to promote the learning of French in Manitoba ("Say OUI to opportunity"), and Manitoba has many French immersion schools. But the preferred solution to the demographic problem of Manitoba's Francophone community seems to be to encourage the immigration of Francophones to Manitoba. Unfortunately, a large proportion of Francophone immigrants that have been coming to Manitoba in recent years are from the former French colonies of West Africa, states like Senegal, Mali and Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast).

If the preservation of the French language in Manitoba is the single most important thing for the Franco-Manitoban community, a massive influx of African Francophones is certainly a welcome thing. But this means throwing any notion of French-Canadian ethnic identity completely out the window and strongly contributes to the reduction of traditional French-Canadian culture to the level of a ridiculous parody. Of course, the leaders of the Franco-Manitoban community couldn't care less about a French-Canadian ethnic identity because they belong to the modern religion of multicultural globalism. And traditional French-Canadian culture is important to the leaders of the Franco-Manitoba community only if and when it can be incorporated into a modern pseudo-cultural spectacle.

I really have to wonder if the preservation of a language community in a minority situation can truly be as important as its leaders routinely insist that it is. It certainly can't be so important that it has to be imposed on millions of people outside of the language community.

Preserving a language community in a minority situation is naturally impractical, which is why its leaders must constantly work at securing the means of preserving it, especially government funding. Obviously, if a language community can't naturally sustain itself, it must necessarily remain forever dependent on government funding. I once likened this — on a Francophone internet forum — to being forever on life-support. But of course, ever greater dependence on government is a growing trend in this modern world.

Franco-Manitoban leaders sacrifice the ethnic identity and traditional culture of their people for the sake of maintaining an abstract Francophone community

Otherwise, a language community that can't naturally sustain itself will readily compromise whatever ethnic identity and traditional culture it may actually have just for the sake of maintaining a language community. And this for me is the crux of the matter: a community that defines itself only by its language can not truly be an ethnic or cultural community. A language community is in fact nothing more than a language community essentially devoid of any particular ethno-cultural attributes.

In effect, the linguistic fixation of the leaders of the Franco-Manitoban community serves to entrench the already-established notion of a purely linguistic Franco-Manitoban community to the detriment of any French-Canadian ethnic identity or traditional French-Canadian culture. And the need to further entrench the concept of a purely linguistic Franco-Manitoban community (as opposed to the traditional ethno-cultural French-Canadian community) is the reason for encouraging the immigration of hordes of French-speaking Africans to Manitoba, and therefore to contribute to the dissolution of the genuine French-Canadian ethnic identity, and to the degradation of traditional French-Canadian culture.

I can't truly say that the leaders of the Franco-Manitoban community definitely want this, but I do think that they probably do want it, and I honestly don't think that they really mind. After all, such dissolution of ethnic identities and degradation of traditional cultures is the way that the entire Western world is going.

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