The Francophone community
Over the years, our Francophone community has evolved into a vibrant, structured and thriving community. Despite the challenges it has faced in its history, Manitoba’s Francophone community has endured and today numbers approximately 110,000 Manitobans (Francophones and Francophiles). These Francophones live primarily in the French neighborhoods of Winnipeg and in about 40 Francophone villages located primarily in the southern part of the province.
Tenacity. No better word describes the French presence in Manitoba and the people who are part of it. How else can one explain the fact that there is a modern and dynamic French-speaking community in Manitoba even though Francophones represent less than 5% of the provincial population?
To fully understand the tenaciousness of Franco-Manitobans, one needs to remember one thing: the Francophonie is entrenched in Manitoba’s history. French is the language of the Canadian Voyageurs that came from Lower Canada in the 18th century. French is one of the languages of the Métis, the children of the Voyageurs and their First Nation wives. French was the language of the Roman Catholic clergy who worked in the Red River Colony from 1818. French is the language of the French-Canadians who arrived more than a century ago from Québec and the New England States, and settlers from Francophone Europe.
French-speaking Métis, French-Canadians and European Francophones share a common identity: one of being from this country, a country where the French language and culture are constitutionally equal with the English language and culture.
This sense of belonging has tempered the negative effects of unconstitutional laws adopted by the Manitoba Legislature in 1890. The feeling of Manitoba being home to Franco-Manitobans in spite of the sometimes hostile attitude of an Anglophone majority has nurtured a desire among Francophones to better themselves and their community. Today, more than at any other time in their history, Franco-Manitobans can live in French in this province.
With officially recognized Federal and Provincial rights, Francophones now have the necessary economic, educational, social and community tools to ensure that the French presence continues to be an important part of Manitoba.
The Franco-Manitoban flag was unveiled in 1980 following a contest organized by the Conseil jeunesse provincial. Following a popular vote, Franco-Manitobans chose the design proposed by Franco-Manitoban graphic artist Cyril Parent.
Just as the boundless prairie dominates the Franco-Manitoban landscape, more than half the flag is occupied by the white background.
The red band represents the Red River, where Manitoba’s first Francophones settled at the start of the 19th century and where St.Boniface, the mother church of the West, was established.
The Red River Valley has some of Manitoba’s most fertile soil, well suited to wheat growing. The yellow band symbolizes the wheat and the importance of agriculture in the development of the Franco-Manitoban communities.
Sprouting up from within the two bands of color is a green shoot in the form of a stylized » F « , the symbol of a vibrant and flourishing Francophone community that is firmly rooted in the Canadian prairie.