The Canadian Race Relations Foundation wishes the Franco-Ontarian community, a happy Franco-Ontarian Day!
From Champlain's arrival in 1615 to Franco-Ontarian Day on September 25, 2015, there have been more than 400 years of Francophone presence in Ontario. Franco-Ontarians are the largest minority community in Ontario. Franco-Ontarians are characterized by the tenacity and perseverance of a people proud of their culture and determined to give it wings.
The Franco-Ontarian flag was raised for the first time, green and white, with the trillium and lily flower as it is recognized today, in 1975. The French Canadian Association of Ontario adopted it in 1977, and in 2001, the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario enacted the Franco-Ontarian Emblem Act.
The flag creates a strong sense of belonging across the province. It flies on the flagpoles of hundreds of institutions, and it is proudly flown at many Francophone festivals – and the Ontario Government launched a license plate in French featuring the official Franco-Ontarian emblem (the flag) and the French slogan “TANT À DÉCOUVRIR” on a standard licence plate.
Franco-Ontarians continue to demonstrate a remarkable openness to others. Today, Franco-Ontarians come from Europe, Central and South America, Asia and Africa, they practice many religions – and they share the identity of being “Franco-Ontarian”.
Professor Alexandre Brassard delivered an opening address at the Toronto Francophone Forum (Forum de la francophonie torontoise) on March 17, 2014 explaining the expansion of the Franco-Ontarian identity:
When you think about it, it's remarkable. For over 300 years, Francophones in Ontario identified themselves as Catholic and French Canadian then in Québec the French Canadian identity became the Quebecer identity, which forced Francophone across the country to retreat to provincial identity ... we then became Franco-Ontarians but the Catholic and French Canadian identity remained. This constitutes the first identity change. However, this definition wasn’t conducive to making others feel included ... Who wants to change his religion to join a minority? Who can change the color of their skin? This led to the second great transformation.
Very quickly Franco-Ontarians reshaped their identity again. It was expanded to include all citizens of Ontario who speak French, whether Catholic or not, whether born in Canada or abroad. Language became the main reference for identity. In 2009, the Province will take note of this change by adopting the new inclusive definition of Francophone for its official statistics. This identity change is recent and is not yet complete. This was an opportunity to expand the Francophone community to become a host society.
Franco-Ontarians demonstrate reflexivity, adaptability and openness. It is a success that went largely unnoticed, but which is the precursor of all our achievements in the field of immigration.