Uniting voices: An examination of racially minoritized French speakers of Vancouver by Marie-Eve Bouchard

“Since the early 2000s, Canadian federal policies have encouraged Francophone immigration from around the world in order to support the vitality of the French language in Francophone minority communities outside the province of Quebec. As a consequence, these communities can no longer be associated solely with white European settlers and their descendants; they are now multicultural, multiethnic, and polyglot communities. This research proposes to bring together the voices of racialized French speakers of Vancouver. It will examine the variety of French spoken by young people of colour, as well as their sociolinguistic experiences in a predominantly white and French-speaking high school located in Vancouver.

Vancouver is a diverse metropolis, with 49 percent of the population identifying as people of colour. French-speaking immigrants in Vancouver do arrive from Europe, but also from many former French colonies in Africa and the Caribbean, where French is an official language. These French-speaking immigrants play an important role in (re)defining the variety of French spoken in British Columbia as they carve out new forms of identity and belonging. In the French schools of Vancouver, these different varieties of French come into contact with Canadian and European varieties (which are generally perceived as more prestigious). However, no studies have focused on these diverse young people’s linguistic practices and the contribution they make to the variety of French spoken in British Columbia. This project expands the scope of existing scholarship by focusing on an understudied variety of French, spoken by a population that is also underrepresented in the (socio)linguistic and anthropological literature. In addition to contributing crucial knowledge to our understanding of language contact and emerging varieties of French in Canada, this project takes a race-centered approach to language and identity by taking into consideration the range of ways race shapes the children of immigrants’ experiences.”

This project is funded by SSHRC (Insight Development Grant).