Statement by Minister Joly on National Acadian Day

From: Canadian Heritage

At Your Side

This year, August 15 will be different. Normally, Acadians and their allies would be pouring into the streets, getting loud, and celebrating the beauty and richness of Acadian culture during the Tintamarre. However, because of COVID-19, we are forced to find other ways to celebrate.

The Tintamarre is both a joyous celebration and a reflection on Acadian identity: well-rooted in community, proud of the French language and resilient in the face of centuries of adversity. The Tintamarre gives us a chance to reflect on all that Acadians have overcome, and to celebrate their triumphs.

We are going through a time of real anxiety, and Acadian communities have not been spared. In times of crisis, issues of language and culture can often be pushed to the sidelines. With attention focused elsewhere, these extraordinary situations can lead to a backsliding and the rolling back of hard-won rights. These are not unfounded worries; they have been tragic realities for too many Acadian communities at various moments in history. We must remain vigilant.

Over the past few months, the Government of Canada has been focused on putting in place important measures to help Canadians get through this crisis. The many measures include support for individuals affected by the pandemic in paying their rent and putting food on the table, as well as initiatives that help businesses keep their employees and get access to capital. But I want to be clear: nothing has changed when it comes to our commitment to protecting linguistic rights. In fact, it’s stronger than ever.

This is why, despite the crisis, we have made a fundamental decision for the future of Acadians and minority-language communities. For the first time since the adoption of the Official Languages Act, the 2021 Census will ask all Canadians to describe their linguistic reality. This will make it possible to get a better count of those who hold linguistic rights throughout Acadia and all regions of the country. We will ensure better access to education and services, which will allow the language to be passed from generation to generation and, at the same time, help prevent assimilation of Francophones. As many have said, this is one of the biggest advances in linguistic rights in recent years (along with the creation of the Université de l’Ontario français).

We are as determined as ever to modernize the Official Languages Act and review or even create new regulations that give the Act more teeth. In the coming weeks, we will work with communities to reach this goal.

Though Acadians can’t celebrate in the streets this year, I know that their pride-in their language, culture and identity-is unwavering. They have a strength that has carried them through more than 400 years of upheaval, repression and ultimately, their rebirth. It is this strength that will get them through this pandemic as well. As Acadians continue the fight to protect their language and culture, our government will be right there to support them, every step of the way.

Contacts

Alexander Cohen

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

613-404-9121

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