Canada and La Francophonie

La Francophonie is a group of 88 member states and governments from five continents sharing French as a common language. These countries collectively have over 1 billion inhabitants spread across five continents, of whom 300 million are Francophones. La Francophonie’s main institution is the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).

Special attention is paid to women and youth, as well as access to information and communication technologies. The four missions of La Francophonie are to:

  • promote the French language, and cultural and linguistic diversity;
  • promote peace, democracy and human rights;
  • support education, training, higher education and research; and
  • develop co-operation aimed at supporting sustainable development.

Discover how Canada is directly involved with La Francophonie.

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

Explore how Canada is a committed partner of La Francophonie.

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

Canada’s actions

Canada actively participates in meetings of the different institutions of La Francophonie and contributes to the development of strategic documents. It maintains and consolidates its network of partners, reinforces its ability to influence and promotes the visibility of its francophone communities, especially those in a minority situation. Canada’s commitment within La Francophonie enables it to promote its values and advance its foreign policy and development priorities.

Canada’s guidance and financial support contribute to the advancement of La Francophonie’s four missions (French only), as outlined in the OIF’s 2015-2022 strategic framework (French only) and illustrated in its 2019-2022 programming.

In recent years, Canada’s contributions within La Francophonie have made possible the following:

  • the successful organization of the Saint Boniface conference with the theme of the Saint Boniface Declaration on Conflict Prevention and Human Security, 12 years later, in May 2018 in Ottawa;
  • the adoption of a strategy for La Francophonie on gender equality at the Yerevan Summit in October 2018;
  • the delivery of innovative youth engagement initiatives such as Libres ensemble and the International Conference of Francophone Youth, the second edition of which was held in Geneva, Switzerland, in September 2018;
  • the establishment of the Institut de la Francophonie pour l’Éducation et la Formation (IFEF) in Dakar, Senegal, in 2017;
  • the successful organization of a conference in Bucharest, Hungary, on gender equality in 2017;
  • the opening of an OIF regional office for the Indian Ocean in Antananarivo, Madagascar, in 2016; and the creation of regional offices for North Africa in Tunis, Tunisia, and for the Middle East in Beirut, Lebanon;
  • the successful organization of an international conference in Paris, France, in 2016 on combatting terrorism and preventing violent radicalization;
  • the dissemination of French in a context of growing linguistic diversity by means of local initiatives contributing to an increase in the number of French speakers;
  • a significant contribution to the success of major international gatherings, such as climate conferences;
  • making available additional resources, in particular business incubators, to encourage entrepreneurship and foster the economic integration of thousands of African women and youth; and
  • the funding of higher education in Canada for 2,054 Africans, 41% of them women, through the Canadian Francophonie Scholarship Program.

History of Canada’s participation in La Francophonie

Canada was one of the founding members of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation in 1970, which became the OIF in 2005. Canada has worked actively within the international Francophonie since its inception. Canada, with the support of its provincial partners, was one of the first countries to promote La Francophonie and supported the creation of its institutions, notably in:

  • 1961 - Creation of the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), a university network that currently has 842 members in 111 countries and its head office in Montréal.
  • 1979 - Creation of the Association international des maires francophones (AIMF), an initiative of the then mayors of Paris and Québec, Jacques Chirac and Jean Pelletier. The AIMF currently has 272 city members and associations with locally elected representatives.
  • 1988 - 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. Canada is overseeing TV5’s activities for 2018 and 2019.

Canada encouraged La Francophonie, originally a cultural and technical cooperation organization founded to promote the sharing of the French language, to become more involved in defending democratic values and human rights within the francophone space. Canada has also actively supported institutional reforms within La Francophonie that seek to establish a culture of management results and effectiveness. Canada has been a leader in developing the economic mandate of La Francophonie. It has been a leader in the development of la Francophonie’s economic mandate, through its significant contribution to an OIF project that aims to promote employment through women’s and youth entrepreneurship in francophone sub-Saharan Africa.

The principal directions of the three Francophonie summits held in Canada demonstrate the scope of Canada’s actions with respect to La Francophonie.

Québec Summit (1987)

The Québec Summit helped define the priorities of La Francophonie. These involve 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.

Moncton Summit (1999)

The Moncton Summit led to the organization of three major sectoral conferences: the Conference of Women of La Francophonie (Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, February 2000) with 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), which led 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 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 (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, which was co hosted by Canada and Quebec, also benefited from the participation of New Brunswick as a partner.

Canada’s position with regard to La Francophonie

Canada is an important partner of La Francophonie. It supports the mandates of its different institutions and actively participates in decision making. Canada’s annual contributions, which amount to approximately $40 million, enables the institutions to implement their respective programs. Canada has four seats on the OIF: Canada, Canada New Brunswick and Canada-Quebec are full members, and Canada-Ontario is a government observer.

Since January 2015, Michaëlle Jean, former Governor General of Canada, has been the Secretary General of the OIF. Not only is she the first woman to lead La Francophonie, she is also the first Canadian to do so. She successfully extended the influence of La Francophonie beyond traditional platforms. She appeared before the United Nations Security Council and been a voice for La Francophonie during many international conferences dealing with high-priority issues for the planet, notably migration, climate change, economic development and job creation. Her commitment to women and young people has characterized her mandate, which will come to an end in December 2018. Louise Mushikiwabo of Rwanda, will succeed her as of January 2019.

La Francophonie institutions in a few clicks

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

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