Students in SFU's French cohort program are ready to celebrate International Francophonie Day (March 20) with a variety of activities over the next few weeks.

Departments & programs, French, Community

Celebrate International Francophonie Day with French events across campus

March 20, 2019

French movies and a bilingual job fair are just some of the French activities happening at Simon Fraser University's Burnaby and Vancouver campuses in the next few weeks to celebrate International Francophonie Day (March 20), when French-speaking nations all over the world celebrate 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, a global body 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 SFU's namesake, led expeditions to open up the fur trade with 20 or so Francophones, which then became a gateway for a larger number of Francophones from across the continent to colonize the region.

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.

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!)