International Francophonie Day – #MyMarch20

By the Francophone Committee

On International Francophonie Day, the Francophone members of the Union of National Employees (UNE) want to tell you how the permanent Francophone Committee was created within our Union.

It was in 2008 at the National Component Convention in Toronto—today UNE—that this initiative began to take root in the minds of some Francophone members of our Union, following the bad treatment of one of Canada’s two officials languages. Two years went by before concrete actions were taken.

On Saturday, August 14, 2010 at the Human Rights Conference held in Saskatoon, further to the dissatisfaction of Francophone participants, it was agreed to gather some 15 members of the Union to address problematic situations and try to find fair and equitable solutions to them. Daniel Kinsella, the National President at the time, was invited to attend this meeting. This is how the first Francophone Committee meeting took place.

Some situations that occurred during this conference were deemed unacceptable and drove Francophones to act. Here are some examples:

– Once the French electronic registration to the Convention was completed, the computer program always redirected us to the English site;
– The Saskatoon Coop travel agency offered neither bilingual nor French services;
– The names of some Francophone participants were badly written on the pass identifier;
– The workshop facilitators were not bilingual. The supporting documents were only available in English;
– During workshops, non-bilingual Francophones had to share the services of one single interpreter;
– The lack of simultaneous interpretation at the caucuses and elections;
– The journalist in charge of press was a unilingual Anglophone. When the person he would interview would answer in French, he would cut the conversation short and say “Sorry, I don’t speak French.”

Faced with these numerous findings, the first objective of the committee was to become a permanent committee that was an integral part of the Union’s structure. The National President gave his approval to this initiative.

This is how, during the 2011 National Convention in Saint-John, with the support of a resolution received from the floor of the Convention and adopted by the members present, the creation of UNE’s first permanent Francophone committee took place.

Since its creation, this committee has continued to promote and defend the use of the French language in the operations, activities and events of our Union, as well as everyday society. The major presence of UNE at the various demonstrations supporting Franco-Ontarians last fall—protesting the cuts in French services in Ontario by the Ford Government—illustrates this commitment.

The Committee ensures the representation of a Francophone member in the steering committees of every national conference and convention. A Montreal-based firm is also responsible for translating documents and makes sure that the translators are Francophones. The W.E. Travel, whose services have now been retained by UNE, offers its services in both official languages.

The Francophone Committee wants to thank the people who took the decision to create a Canada-wide Francophone Committee: Louise Patrice, Jean-Pierre Ouellet and Daniel Toutant, as well as the precious contribution of Georges St-Jean, Technical Advisor, and Nicole Clermont, for her administrative support, as well as the entire UNE team for the support and efforts made to make sure that services provided by our Union are done in both official languages of our country.

Happy Francophonie Day!

The Francophone Committee