Mr Chayko’s “Unilingual
Parc des Cèdres meeting”
Mr Ben Chayko seems to be experiencing what Francophones outside Québec have been complaining about for the last 150 years: public services not offered in one of our two official languages.
Mr Chayko does not seem to know that Quebec has only one official language, French. Some essential services like healthcare and education are offered in English. I know that Aylmer has many English-speaking residents (my husband is one of them), but in Gatineau, they don’t represent a large section of the population.
This brings me to a related subject: why is it that after living so many years on the Quebec side of the Ottawa river (“rivière des Outaouais” in French), so many English-speaking Quebecers still cannot speak French at a sufficient level to interact with their municipal government? Those who studied outside Quebec can blame their former provincial governments for not making them properly learn French in school. To those who grew up in Quebec and attended English schools, I ask: “Wasn’t French part of your curriculum? Didn’t you have to take French starting in Grade 1, as we did for English in French schools?” And to those who moved to Quebec after reaching adulthood, I ask: “Why can’t you learn enough French to get around Gatineau? Do we, Francophones, make it too easy for you by switching to English as soon as we sense a hint of English?” Maybe Francophones should start speaking only French in order for our fellow English-speaking citizens to practice their language skills.
I answer Mr Chayko’s letter only in English as I did not want him to rely on a poor translation provided by Google Translate that would have distorted what I said.