In an exclusive interview with The Times Kuwait, Her Excellency Martine Moreau the Ambassador of Canada to Kuwait, who is the official rapporteur for the 2017 International Day of La Francophonie celebrations in Kuwait, revealed that the theme for this year’s celebration is, “J’aime, je partage! #mon 20 mars, or in English, I like, I share! #mons 20 mars.”
This theme is in connection with the general theme of ‘le numérique’, or digital technology that was chosen by Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) partners. The theme is centered on young people and urges them to communicate the activities and vision of La Francophonie via social media, said the ambassador.
“Francophonie Day is an opportunity to celebrate the French language and culture, while also highlighting the important role that La Francophonie plays in promoting values like peace, democracy, human rights and sustainable development,” the ambassador pointed out.
Elaborating on her role as rapporteur, the ambassador clarified that this was a rotating responsibility shared by ambassadors of the various La Francophonie nations represented in Kuwait. Last year, France was at the helm of arranging events to mark the Day, this year it is Canada’s turn.
“Every year the various embassies that are part of La Francophonie showcase francophone culture, but it is also an event for all people who love the French language. This year, the two-week long activities in Kuwait running between March 12-26 include competitions, films, shows, seminars and exhibits.
Describing Kuwaitis as very open and ready to embrace other cultures, Ambassador Moreau said she was pleasantly surprised to see the number of Kuwaitis speaking French and the quality of their conversations.
She went on to clarify that the La Francophonie organization includes 58 member states or governments and 26 observer states. They are spread across the world in five continents and represent almost one billion people, including 274 million French speakers.
The organization provides guidance to its members, which include basically four themes of promoting French language and cultural diversity; promoting peace, democracy and human rights; education, training, higher education and research; and, sustainable development and economic growth.
Underscoring the presence of French language and culture in Canada, the ambassador noted that French, along with English, is one of Canada’s two official languages. It is the first official language of nearly 20 percent of Canadians or nearly 7.7 million people, she added.
“Given our proud French legacy, Canada is an avid architect and supporter of La Francophonie and was one of the founding members of the organization. Belonging to the OIF highlights our country’s linguistic duality and commitment to international cooperation and the shared values of La Francophonie,” the ambassador said.
“Though our network of more than 170 diplomatic missions abroad, Canada joins other La Francophone countries and institutions around the world, in celebrating the International Day of La Francophonie by participating in a variety of activities that take place throughout the month of March,” said Ambassador Moreau, adding, “Today, the International Day of La Francophonie is celebrated well beyond the Francophone world, in over 100 countries on five continents.”
The envoy went on to note that close to 87 percent of Canadian Francophones live in the Canadian State of Quebec and the state is the primary focal point of La Francophonie in North America. This large Francophone community is an integral part of the Canadian identity and helps make the country unique, said the diplomat.
She added, “Canada is the second largest donor to La Francophonie and its institutions after France, contributing more than $43 million in 2015-2016. Canada is also very visible within the institutions of the OIF, with both the Academic Agency of La Francophonie (AUF) and the Institute for Sustainable Development of La Francophonie (IFDD) being located in Canada.
As part of our commitment to La Francophonie and the actions taken to advance its priorities, Canada promotes the values of peaceful pluralism, diversity and inclusion. Canada considers the Francophonie to be an important forum where it can make a significant contribution to the major international issues affecting French-speaking countries, be it in the area of gender equality, increased empowerment of women, green initiatives, inclusive and sustainable economic development, or the fight against climate change, said the ambassador in conclusion.
- By Reaven D'Souza