Quebec Seeks to Ease Divisiveness

Stacy Churchill schurchill at
Tue Apr 15 18:43:51 UTC 2003

Interesting discussion on Quebec and language survival among mixed
populations. Let me give some further examples of parallel coexistence
come from Canada itself:

Although they have been "refreshed" by limited new immigration from mainly
French-speaking areas of Quebec and New Brunswick, the Francophone
communities of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta have roots going back at
least into the early 1800's.  The fact that all the minority Francophone
communities of Canada except for those in the northern parts of New
Brunswick are suffering serious inroads from assimilative forces does not
detract from the historical stability of these populations. I remember
giving a speech to a group of Francophone activists a dozen years ago in a
church basement in a small farming town near Edmonton, Alberta: in
response to pessimists, I pointed out that if their assimilation had gone
at the same rate as their Ukrainian and other immigrant neighbours, their
whole community would have disappeared before World War I or at least by
the Great Depression! It took them a little time to realize what they had
accomplished. By the way, the issue of the meeting was whether the
community wanted to create a French-medium school or stick with limited
French exposure for their kids: the battle went the "right" way and the
school went forward in French. Some landmark studies by Rodrigue Landry
and Rheal Allard (in Moncton but studying data across Canada) have
demonstrated the role of French-language schooling in reducing and almost
eliminating the loss to assimilation from mixed marriages, provided the
one Francophone parent continues speaking French to the child at home. The
kids end up, of course, as bilinguals and they have amazingly complex
senses of identity that span the cultures and communities into which they
are born.

One negative factor in the current situation is that by the late 1960s the
fertility rates of these communities moved close to the general
non-Francophone Canadian norms, which means that they are in demographic
decline independent of any assimilation factors.

The contrary - positive - factor has been a massive push since the late
1960s to develop French-language schooling for the children in
institutions that are controlled by the French minorities themselves. The
network of schools is there and, for all intents and purposes, most of the
formal control mechanisms are in place for community governance. In the
late 1980's the Canadian federal government made a commitment to develop
these communities in a broader sense (economically, culturally), which was
barely given much attention by most of the ministries until the
mid-1990's. Today far more vigorous actions are being taken, and some of
the key demographic indicators actually have reversed: the rate of
intergenerational transmission of French as a mother tongue in mixed
Francophone-English marriages from parents to children had been in steady
decline in English dominant provinces for a century until the 1980s, when
the curve stopped and began moving upwards. An indicator.

Anyone who's interested can go to the Government of Canada website in my
signature to see an html version of my (short) book that covers the whole
waterfront of French and English in Canada, including Quebec. [Free copies
are available by mail from the department, not me.] It's still quite up to
date, though the current release of figures from the latest census is not
included; the new census confirms basically the tendencies that the book
outlines. The Government website (Department of Canadian Heritage) has
buttons to immense amounts of additional studies. You'd want to consult in
the same section of the website Michael O'Keefe's study of community
vitality (revised, second edition), also available as a book, free.

Government policy cannot reverse major trends like fertility rates, but it
can be used to strengthen and perhaps maintain linguistic communities
indefinitely. The jury is still out on the last point, but the experiment
in Canada is very vibrant and certainly not without hope.

Bonne lecture à tout le monde.
Stacy Churchill


[Mr.] Stacy Churchill, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
Education Policy and Minority Education Policy
Modern Language Center
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Univ. of Toronto
252 Bloor St. West
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1V6

Telephone:  416-923-6641 ext. 2709
   Fax:  416-926-4769 [group fax, not for confidential items]
   e-mail: schurchill at
List of recent publications:
Most recent book available free from Government of Canada website:

lgpolicy-list at writes:
>Some Examples of Long-lasting (> 3 gens.)
>Societal multilingualisms: Basque-Spanish,
>Catalan-Spanish, +Swiss German-High German,
>+Sanskrit-Hindi, Classical Tamil-vernacular
>Tamil, +Kathurevusa-Demotiki, Hebrew-Aramaic,
>Yiddish-Hebrew, +Koranic-Vernacular Arabic,
>Mandarin-Cantonese, Sicilian-Italian,
>Greek-Egyptian demotic. These 12 examples differ
>in many ways from each other, including current
>stability, genesis-scenarios and functional
>allocations, but they have each lasted for well
>over 3 generations and are each still going
>strong in at least part of their own speech
>(+=Fergusonian diglossia)
>Joshua A. Fishman
>Joshua A. Fishman
>--- Survey Coordinator Brazil
><survey_coord_brazil at> wrote:
>> Dear Dr. Fishman,
>> I'm glad to hear that group bilingualism can
>> last indefinitely in many
>> cases.  I'm just not aware of many.
>> Guarani/Spanish in Paraguay comes to
>> mind.  What are the many other cases?
>> Stan Anonby
>HOME: 3616 Henry Hudson Pkwy., Apt. 7B-N, Bronx NY 10463
>home tel: 718-796-8484; home fax: 718-796-8155 (3 page limit); OFFICE
>tel: 718-430-3850; office fax: 719-430-3060.
>Do you Yahoo!?
>The New Yahoo! Search - Faster. Easier. Bingo

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