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Bonjour! Welcome to the Brunswickan’s newest column, FranÇAY What?, where I discuss news, ideas and politics from the French perspective. Through this column, I hope to provide some insight into Francophone society in Canada and promote cross-cultural appreciation on our campus. As the first of many columns, consider this our awkward hello.

So who am I? Raised in English-speaking small-town New Brunswick, I attended the only Francophone school in Saint John. After graduating, I became the president of the Fédération des jeunes francophones, and am currently president of the Fédération de la jeunesse Canadienne-française, as well as being a second-year student in Renaissance College.

I’m also wealthy in facts.

For instance, did you know that Canada boasts over one million francophones living outside of Quebec? Did you know that despite New Brunswick being the only officially bilingual province, Manitoba is unofficially bilingual and all of the territories have French as an official language?

In keeping with the introductory nature of this first column, allow me to introduce you to French people in New Brunswick. Currently, about 30 per cent of the population speaks French as their first language. Most of those people are concentrated in the north of the province, though due to an increasing rural exodus, Francophones are flooding towards urban centres like Saint John, Fredericton and Moncton.

The majority of francophones in New Brunswick identify as Acadiens, which traditionally means that their ancestors were deported in the mid-18th century. In the 1960s as more Acadians moved into cities, they started pushing for official recognition, which led to Moncton becoming a bilingual city and eventually to New Brunswick’s bilingual status being firmly enchâssé in the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Today, New Brunswick has 22 Francophone high schools across the province, one of the only Francophone universities outside of Quebec (Université de Moncton), a high profile international Francophone film festival (FICFA) and an awesome francophone community full of awesome people.

If you’re looking to maybe become one of those awesome people, but need to improve your French, try the French for the Future 30-day challenge at French-future.org, tune into Radio-Canada at 102.3 FM or take an Intro to French class next semester.

There it is: a first column and an awkward hello.

À la prochaine.

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