Celebrate International Francophonie Day with French events across campus


Today is International Francophonie Day (March 20), and French-speaking nations all over the world are celebrating the French language.

Created in 1988, International Francophonie Day marks the signing of the Niamey Convention in Niger on March 20, 1970, which established the precursor to the International Organization of La Francophonie, an international organization representing countries and regions where French is the customary language.

It is estimated that 274 million people across the globe speak French, making it the fifth most spoken language in the world, and the only language other than English to be spoken on every continent. In 2011, nearly 10 million Canadians reported being French-speakers, a number that’s up from 9.6 million in 2006.

The Francophone presence in British Columbia has a history as old as the province itself, beginning from when Alexander Mackenzie crossed the Rockies in 1793 and brought six French-Canadians with him.

In 1805, Simon Fraser, explorer and namesake of Simon Fraser University, led expeditions to open up the fur trade with 20 or so Francophones, which then became a gateway to colonization of the region by a larger number of Francophones from across the continent.

At one point before the gold rush of 1858, French was the most spoken language in western Canada.

With the passing of the Official Languages Act in 1969, Canada recognized French as one of the two official languages of Canada, bearing equal status to English.

Today, seven per cent of B.C.’s population speaks both English and French, and French education programs such as French Immersion have increased nearly 30 per cent over the past decade. French speakers at home have also increased by 21 per cent from 2006 to 2016.

The University’s motto, Nous sommes prêts, is in French. Meaning “We are ready,” it is a variation of the traditional motto of the Clan Fraser, from whom the University’s namesake was descended.

To celebrate the French language and International Francophonie Day, here are some Francophone events happening at SFU over the next few weeks. All are welcome to attend.

March 24*
French Movie Night (with English subtitles): Le Brio
Registration and details

March 27*
Bilingual Job Fair
11am – 2pm at SFU Burnaby Campus: Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs, 198 Cornerstone Building

April 3 – 4*
Film screenings at the OFFA (with English subtitles and free popcorn!)

Get updates on SFU’s French activities, services, and programs by subscribing to the OFFA Monthly Bilingual Newsletter


*Those events are organised by the Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs as part of the Printemps de la francophonie 2019