The Canadian Francophone Experience
Francophone immigrants and their families explain why they chose to live in Francophone communities outside Quebec.
Learn more about Francophone immigration and Francophone life across Canada.
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Transcript: “The Canadian Francophone Experience”
Video length: 11:32 minutes
Upbeat music plays in the background while a video montage containing: mountain scenery, the Parliament Buildings, a busy downtown street, families playing outside in the snow, a kayaker, an outdoor urban market and an aerial view of Toronto is shown.
Text displays: “The Canadian Francophone Experience”
Narrator: Francophone communities throughout Canada will be pleased to welcome you. Canada has two official languages: French and English. Bilingualism is an opportunity to capitalize on. It opens doors for newcomers and future generations. Most French-speaking Canadians live in Quebec, but a great many live in vibrant communities in the other provinces and territories.
A map of Canada with a red dot representing Labrador City, Labrador is shown.
Text displays: “Labrador City Newfoundland and Labrador”
A bungalow is shown in the winter. A man in the kitchen prepares his children’s lunches as they eat breakfast.
Text displays: “Jean-Nicolas Dorat - Origin: France – Occupation: Engineer”
The family of four poses in their living room.
Jean-Nicolas Dorat (speaking French): My name is Jean-Nicolas Dorat. I am the proud father of Gabriel and Charline, and Aude is my wife. We immigrated to Canada in April 2011 from Belgium, where we spent four years. We were originally from France at the beginning.
“Gabriel, come and get your lunch box.”
The father and mother sit on a couch. The mother speaks.
Text displays: “Aude Milvaux”
A montage is shown intermittently as she speaks. It includes: The son packing his backpack, the father and daughter reading, the children relaxing on the couch.
Aude Milvaux (speaking French): At the very beginning, we really wanted to go abroad to see what it was like somewhere else, and our experience in Belgium let us target our destination a little better. We wanted to go to an English-speaking country primarily…with a similar standard of living to what we had in Europe. I looked on the Internet to see where Labrador City was and I said, “Wow! What a cool adventure that would be.”
The father speaks. A montage of their daughter getting ready for school, walking down the driveway and getting on a bus is shown intermittently as he speaks.
Jean-Nicolas Dorat (speaking French): I worked as a project engineer and it worked out well. It was the right fit. My office manager left and I replaced him, a great promotion—success from a professional standpoint. The obvious destination for French-speakers from Europe is “Hey, I’ll go to Canada, to Quebec.” And when you get here, the market’s more competitive than expected and you don’t have the advantage of speaking French because everyone speaks French. From the start, I wanted to go to the rest of Canada because immigration opportunities were better for us if we went to a place where the so-called competition was “not as fierce as it can be in Quebec” because a Francophone in Quebec is not a difference.
A map of Canada with a red dot representing Edmunston, New Brunswick is shown.
Text displays: “Edmundston New Brunswick”
A man is shown driving down a city street.
Text displays: “Cyriaque Kiti – Origin: Benin – Occupation: Account Manager”
CYRIAQUE KITI (speaking French): My name is Cyriaque Kiti and I come from Benin in West Africa. Edmundston is in fact a French-speaking town. But there were a few adjustments. We had to get used to English because, yes, French is spoken, but people work a lot in English. We had a warm reception. The integration process wasn’t that difficult. We had some assistance to direct us to services, the various administrative offices. The people were really nice. They still called us six months later to see if everything was alright, if we needed anything. And the Newcomers’ Centre also played an active role the first year. I wrote my résumé and sent it. That took about three months. But initially, it wasn’t easy because the interview was entirely in English, and at the time, I wasn’t that comfortable in English, but they still told me that they wanted to take me because they knew that with time, I would learn English. In the end, I started working at the bank. My training courses were all in English, but I managed to get through it. Since then, I’ve worked as an accounts manager.
The man parks his car, walks into a bank, sits down at a desk in an office and works at a computer.
At the bank, I have so many opportunities for advancement, and ongoing training is always available. There is so much opportunity. The adjustment period went well and now I’m used to both. I switch back and forth from English to French and I’m comfortable with it now.
A map of Canada with a red dot representing Vancouver, British Columbia is shown.
Text displays: “Vancouver British Columbia”
A busy urban street is shown. A man walks into a library.
He speaks while sitting at a desk. A montage of him walking around the library and browsing books is shown intermittently as he speaks.
Text displays: “Didier Rabesoa – Origin: Madagascar – Occupation: Representative, Customer Service”
Didier Rabesoa (speaking French): I’ve been in Vancouver for just over a year. My wife and two children, two daughters, are also here with me. We’re very happy to be in Vancouver. There are mountains, the ocean and professionally, we’ve managed to integrate. I took part in the newcomers’ integration program for French-speakers, and they pointed out every resource there was for housing, education, of course, and health. Why did we choose Canada? Because it was a bilingual country and we wanted our children to be educated in French and in English. And it’s the ideal country for that and also because it is a country that is…thriving economically—a country of opportunity.
A map of Canada with a red dot representing Winnipeg, Manitoba is shown.
Text displays: “Winnipeg, Manitoba”
A car drives down a city street.
A woman is shown standing beside a flag.
Text displays: “Virginie De Visscher – Origin: Belgium – Occupation: Director, International Trade”
A montage of her interacting with work colleagues is shown intermittently as she speaks from her office.
Virginie De Visscher (speaking French): I come from Belgium. I am the Director of International Trade at the World Trade Centre in Winnipeg. I’ve been in Canada for four and a half years. I’m married and I have two little boys. We discovered that Manitoba had a really good immigration program, a sort of fast track for French-speakers. So, we looked into it and we really liked it.
Karine, can you take a look at the invoices “What’s in it for you?” that we did last week?
Karine (speaking French): Yeah, sure. I’ll take a look.
Virginie De Visscher (speaking French): Thanks. Thanks a lot.
Manitobans gave us a warm reception that made us feel welcome. They checked to see if we needed anything at all. We came over to check it out and visited all the French-language schools in Winnipeg. We met with banks and business people. We rented a car. We went to visit a few houses to see what the housing market was like. Then, we started the immigration process and nine months later we had our papers. And here we are.
A school bus drives down a snow covered street.
Text displays: “Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador”
A man shovels snow off his driveway. He stops to speak.
Jean-Nicolas Dorat (speaking French): In Europe, we were in a good position financially: we had our house, etc., so we still had… We didn’t leave empty-handed. And the fact of having a job, well, we knew that it was something that would make integration and immigration a lot easier. We didn’t have to think too much about it. It was great for me because I had snow again…like where I grew up in the Alps, and voilà. It was something that we also wanted our children to experience.
The school bus stops in front of his house and he greets his daughter as she gets off the bus. He walks her into the house.
Hey, Chacha… How’s it going?
He is then shown driving.
We, Gabriel and Charline, they have about four or five activities a week and we spend about an hour in the car every week, so that they can do all their after-school activities. You can’t put a price on that. It’s priceless, and sometimes we go to the rink on the skidoo, or we walk or take our bikes to the soccer field.
People are shown swimming at a public pool. He speaks while standing beside the pool.
One of the first things that we wanted to do was sign up the kids for after-school activities, so that they could make friends, etc. Obviously, sports for the kids was a great, a quick way for us to integrate. Sports are very important to us and it’s something that helped us, one, to benefit from the community and, two, to give back to the community what we could.
A car is shown driving down a busy street at night.
Text displays: “Vancouver British Columbia”
An outdoor soccer field is shown. Players are practicing on the field. A man records the practice from the sidelines with his phone, and speaks intermittently as footage of the players continue.
Didier Rabesoa (speaking French): Integration for my daughters was easy because the instruction at school was in French. It was really focused on personal development, self-confidence, so it was easy here for the kids to integrate at school. After, in terms of a social life, that took a little longer because we were in an English-speaking community. When we arrived here the girls didn’t speak a word of English, so it was harder. There were steps that you couldn’t skip like learning English, for instance. The Centre Francophone offers free English classes for new immigrants…permanent residents. The vast majority of people speak English, so you really have to learn English here.
Well, I was thrilled that they chose this sport because it’s a team sport. It teaches them to work together and it’s a way for them to integrate into the community. It helped them to learn English really fast.
A youth hockey team practices in an arena.
Text displays: “Winnipeg, Manitoba”
A man and a woman watch the hockey players from a mezzanine. They take turns speaking as footage of the practice is shown.
Virginie De Visscher (speaking French): People ask us, friends, people we’ve known for a long time, who want to know more and we tell them, “Yes, there are job opportunities. Yes, you can live in French. Yes, there are French schools. Yes, there are means to advance, to grow and opportunities to be had,” but you have to be aware that English is everywhere and you have to work at it.
Text displays: “Steve De Mets”
Steve De Mets (speaking French): It’s really important when you come to Manitoba to speak English. French is an asset, but you have to know how to speak English. That’s for sure.
Virginie De Visscher (speaking French): We hear French spoken almost every day. All you have to do is go to the market, or to a show or even right here in the village, you’ll find French. It’s there. You just have to listen for it, to hear it. Right here around us at the arena or if I watch the kids playing, I’d say that at least half speak French. They might not speak French to each other, but they all speak French.
Steve De Mets (speaking French): Economically, Canada is doing really well. The proof is that it took Virginie two weeks to find a job and it took me three weeks. There are endless possibilities. It’s a country of entrepreneurs, and we really like that side of things, and we think it’s really important for our kids.
A minivan pulls into a residential driveway on a winter night.
Text displays: “EDMUNDSTON New Brunswick”
A family is shown eating supper together. The mother and father take turns speaking as footage of the family continues intermittently.
Cyriaque Kiti (speaking French): The opportunities that Canada has today, it’s one of the rare countries in the world that has the most to offer immigrants, and Canadians are generally quite open.
Text displays: “Nadine Kabwe-Kiti”
Nadine Kabwe-Kiti (speaking French): When I arrived in Canada, what really struck me was the welcome, but also how easy it was to access certain services. In other places, it’s harder. It might involve services for recent immigrants. There are places where you can go ask questions. It’s easier to find your way around. I was also struck by how easy it was to enter the system and ask for information, whether it was regarding my education or when I started a family, and then when I had kids. These are all services that people have and that were extremely beneficial to us.
Cyriaque Kiti (speaking French): Personally, we had a good experience. And if we had the chance, we would probably do it again. We would really urge them to try it, take risks, to leave, because right after we came, we had other friends who chose Ontario. It’s a great experience—if people have the chance, they shouldn’t hesitate.
Nadine Kabwe-Kiti (speaking French): When we immigrated here, it was in fact to start a family and to be able to speak…to continue speaking French, and also to be able to have our children learn English. It was also to be able to have the future that I wanted, where I wanted and basically the freedom to do it.
Three people leave a local recreational complex. They are then shown eating supper together.
A montage is shown including: four people playing soccer; an aerial view of a rural setting in the fall; spectators at an outdoor festival; a busy urban street; a trendy restaurant; an outdoor concert; a bridge at dusk; a lone youth skating with a hockey stick on a large frozen lake surrounded by mountains.
Text displays: “Canada.ca/francoimmigration”
Narrator: If you wish to immigrate to Canada, complete your Express Entry profile. The system is used to process permanent residence applications for certain federal economic immigration programs. In this system, duly completed applications by candidates who were invited to apply for permanent residence are generally processed in six months or less.
There are many ways to make the most of living in French in Canada. For further information, visit Canada.ca/francoimmigration.
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