Culture and Language – The Narrow-mindedness of the Ontario Government

Context

In Ontario, a Canadian province bordering Quebec, known for its French-speaking majority, unilingual Anglophone Premier Ford raises the ire of French Canadians by imposing his narrow vision with cuts to francophone university programs. And to hell with the other official Canadian language! Thus alienating a large Francophone minority that since the imposition of the Canadian Official Languages Act (adopted in 1969) has been enjoying equality with its English-speaking compatriots.

Defending the right to culture

Raised and educated in French in an English-speaking environment, the frenglish that I am is outraged with the Ontario Premier’s boondoggle. Although I’m not an unconditional activist of the identity intimately linked to language, I rather advocate in defence of culture – the right of everyone to learn, to discover other cultures, to explore new perspectives and to build relationships rather than erecting walls.

Fond of my first language, I am also quite taken with my adoptive language, which has enriched my daily life since childhood. I’m infinitely grateful to have grown up in a bilingual and bicultural environment. Therefore I’m stunned by those who insist upon rejecting the wonderful opportunity to learn a language other than “one’s own”.

Refusing to learn

I don’t understand the denial – the disdain even – of some to speak another language, to cohabit with another culture. I cannot imagine how one can refuse to learn a language, even if only a few words to communicate better – especially when one has the incredible opportunity to rub shoulders with it on a daily basis.

If facilitating communication generates more harmony and reinforces the social fabric, why oppose it? Or worse, why impede learning as did the Ontario government (the same government who initiated its mandate by establishing a Buck-a-beer policy)?

How about that: a government who prefers their citizens drunk rather than cultivated?! Beyond rejecting minorities, this demonstrates limited vision and spirit. For to reject the opportunity to learn another language, another culture, is to cultivate one’s own ignorance.