Bilingual Multiculturalism in Canada Essay

The official languages of Canada are English and French, which “have
equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all
institutions of the Parliament and Government of Canada,” according to
Canada’s constitution. Currently, only Quebec is the only province with
French as the only official language.

The first settlements European in Canada were French and British – Colonies
developed dependent on fur trade and their mother countries. The agelong
rivalry between French and British was apparent even in North America. The
British conquered Quebec city and the following Treaty of Paris in 1759,
submitted most of the French territory to Britain. The French were
determined to protect their culture, language and so the British eventually
provided them with the Quebec Act, which recognized French language and
granted religious freedom to the Francophones. Nevertheless, the struggles
between the two cultures were omnipresent and eventually the provinces
became divided into Lower, mostly francophone and Upper Canada, mostly
anglophone. However, two rebellions occured soon after, which led to Lord
Durham’s investigations on behalf of the crown, and he recommended that the
two Canadas become united and all the Francophones become anglicanized and
assimilated, claiming that the French population has no culture. Upper and
Lower Canada became united into the Province of Canada, although, the
French resisted any form of assimilation.

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After the First world war, Canada became independent from Britain and a
large influx of immigrants began developing its rich cultural diversity. In
1971, Canada was the first country to adopt multiculturalism as an official
policy, which states that as members of Canadian society, all people are
equal despite their cultural, religious or any other background. All people
are expected to work together with mutual respect, which protects each
distinct identity. However, in 1980s, after several years of discontent
among the Francophone population in Quebec, a referendum on sovereignty was
held which dealt with the question whether or not should Quebec separate
from Canada, but a majority voted against. Following several constitutional
disputes between Canada and Quebec a separatist Parti Quebecois came in
power and rallied enough supporters for another referendum in 1995, which
was again unsuccessful, although by a mere one per cent. Canada granted
Quebec the recognition of a distinct society after that.

The French language has been a controversial topic for many years, since
the French speaking population is a minority, mainly from Quebec where they
constitute 87% of the population, surrounded by a sea of Anglophones.

Nevertheless, since the French were the first colonists who arrived at
Quebec, it is therefore also controversial not to recognize their language
and culture, considering that they have been conquered by the British and
have been subjects of discrimination throughout the history of Canada. On
the other hand, the French speaking population is on a gradual decline
which can be observed for almost 80 years. According to censuses in 2006
and 2011 the decline is alarming, according to many sociologists. Another
aspect which is affecting this decline is low birth-rate among the
Francophone population as well as migration of Francophones from Quebec,
seeking better economic conditions, nevertheless, the assimilation of
Francophones in other provinces is quite high.

Due to this decline, the future of French language in Canada remains a
question. According to various French-Canadian nationalists, the only way
of preserving French is separation of Quebec from Canada, but the
separation would most likely bring much more disadvantages rather than
benefits. With the current developments, it has been often predicted that
Quebec, as well as French language might disappear by the end of the


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