Jeanne Beaudoin, president of association franco-yukonnaise, speaks at an announcement reagarding funding for newly arrived to Whitehorse French speakers at Centre de la francophonie on May 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Whitehorse is to receive federal funding to support French-speaking immigrants

14 communities in total will receive $12.6 million over three years

Whitehorse is a recipient of federal funding aimed at bolstering supports for newly arrived French speakers in Canada.

There were 14 communities selected in total.

The national initiative, called Welcoming Francophone Communities, is worth a total of $12.6 million. This money will be spread over three years.

Whitehorse is to receive roughly $103,000 over this timeframe, said Susan Moorehead Mooney, constituency office manager for MP Larry Bagnell.

“Funding will target projects that foster awareness of francophone settlement service and inclusion of French speaking newcomers in social, economic and cultural activities,” Bagnell said at the announcement May 23.

The initiative falls in step with the federal government’s francophone immigration strategy, he said.

“The strategy is working to consolidate the government’s approach to increasing francophone migration outside Quebec, to support successful integration and retention of French speaking newcomers and to build capacity to provide French language services in francophone communities,” he said.

Jeanne Beaudoin, president of association franco-yukonnaise, said an immigration program was started in 2005.

“We’ve been looking for partnerships at the city level and both levels of government to make it stronger,” she said.

Fifteen per cent of French speakers in the territory are immigrants, Beaudoin added. Of that number, 90 per cent come from France.

Jeanne Brais-Chaput, project officer of immigration at the association, said the goal is to make the city more welcoming for new arrivals.

Asked how that will happen exactly, she said that’s to be determined.

“Activities are going to start in six months,” she said, adding that she doesn’t know what those activities are yet.

“We’re just at the beginning of the project.”

Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis said cities should do more to bring French speakers into the fold.

“We have a real obligation to make effective change … I think a little bit of pressure has to go onto the municipal level. Our French community in Whitehorse and Yukon is so invaluable. You deserve a lot more than you’re getting,” he said, noting that 85 per cent of the Yukon’s population resides in Whitehorse, which acts as a hub for those who don’t live in the capital.

“I would like to make the tent a little bit bigger and stop looking at the federal government exclusively and start thinking, if we’re gonna have effective change, it’s not always about money, it’s about influence and about influencing the way we behave, the way we act, the way we do business. I’ve given that commitment.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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