Ontario student demands to be served… in English

French-only sandwiches?

by Josh Dehaas

Bilingual sign by MPD01605 on Flickr

French-only signage at the bilingual University of Ottawa has caused debate on The Fulcrum’s website. Anglophone student Jaclyn Lyte writes that at an on-campus sub shop, employees have practically given up on English, with French-only signage. “Call me crazy, but I think it’s important for students to be able to make informed choices about what they eat,” she writes. “I shouldn’t have to grapple with francophone food workers and hold up the line for 15 minutes just to find out what I’m eating.” Lyte supports billingualism. “I’m content to listen through French messages first, and I won’t complain if I have to scroll down an extra page or so to get to my English message,” she says. But she draws a line French-only lunch.

In the comments section, students show their frustration at the school’s official bilingualism. “This school is so French biased,” comments ‘Nick.’

But ‘Julie-Anne Lapointe’ says frustrated Anglos should quit complaining and learn French. “Think about all the times we, French people, have to read a label in English because there is no french translation (and yes, this happens all the time at the U of O),” she adds. “Well, we deal with it.”

It’s a debate that’s happened at the school for decades. The Ontario government made bilingualism official at the school in 1974 with  An Act respecting Université d’Ottawa. UOttawa has had a mandate to “further bilingualism and biculturalism and preserve and develop French culture in Ontario.” It must show its bilingualism in “programmes, central administration, general services, internal administration of its faculties and schools, its teaching staff, its support staff and its student population.” The Act says nothing explicit of sandwich shops. Expect more debate.




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Ontario student demands to be served… in English

  1. I don’t understand why the French can have discriminatory laws banning English in Quebec, while Western Canada cannot have laws
    banning French. If an only english law was contemplated in the rest
    of Canada, there would be an unbelievable uproar.
    I am a westener, who is sick and tired of seeing the FRENCH language
    more prominent on merchandise than english.
    Long past time for them to go. Sink or swim, would free up 100′s of
    millions of dollars for the rest of Canada.

  2. Oddly enough, I always thought bilingualism meant two languages. Apparently for the French, there is only one, and we have to deal with it. And in response to that dimwit who said they have to deal with English only food labels? I have never EVER seen a food label in this country that is not in English and in French. I guess Quebec’s idea of bilingualism is one language only – French.

  3. It’s too bad that the same demands are not made of the French in furthering bilingualism and biculturalism in Quebec.

  4. what an Anglophone bigot!
    Show persons who speak another language more respect.
    This is not the pig ignorant USA.

    • Wanting both English and French signs makes this person an Anglophone bigot? What does that make 90% of Quebecers?

  5. Once again the tail is wagging the dog. I understand Quebec’s worry about losing their identity within this anglophone continent, but last time I checked, Ottawa is in ONTARIO, where English is the predominant language spoken, as it should be. The big problem with this GD country is we spend far to much money and time catering to special interest groups. We never pursue the more important issues. And yes Quebec, you are in my opinion a special interest group outside of La Belle.

    • Mr. Dennis Boden, the University of Ottawa was a francophone school that became bilingual.

      You are quite right that is is located in Ottawa, which is in Ontario, where English is predominant. However, that does not change the fact that this is a thriving bilingual institution (your majoritarily anglophone province voted a law declaring it so. If you don’t believe me, look it up) It’s always better to have the facts right before expressing opinions.

  6. “what an Anglophone bigot!
    Show persons who speak another language more respect.
    This is not the pig ignorant USA.”

    At least an American could read the article and understand it hs nothing to do with Anglo elitism. Methinks when you voiced the words “pig ignorant” you were looking in a mirror.

  7. Oh dear Lord, when one does not know more than one language, I do think one should stay at home and not attend University – Francophones are outside the Province of Quebec and were born outside of Quebec in Canada also. What next? No need to carry a ”Stop Harper” sign, I do not buy It.

    • Learning French is an option in English speaking provinces, so I disagree with you claiming that people who only speak English should not attend University. Learning multiple languages is based off culture and rarely from choice. Francophones should realize that Canada consists of mostly English speaking provinces, therefore unless they plan to live in Quebec for the rest of their lives, English would be nothing short of beneficial for them.

  8. Preserving the Francophone culture I think is important, I also think that the French enrich Canadian culture as a whole! What I feel though is that often francophones are on the defensive in regards to preserving culture and have an attitude that they’re ‘forced’ to learn English… The world is ‘forced’ to learn English, and many of my friends internationally are proud that they speak English. I now have spent a significant amount of time learning other languages, as others have been so open to learn mine. I know that my limited attempts to learn and speak French have been met by a lingual wall of ‘Don’t try to speak French, I’ll just speak English”, which is certainly not doing me any favours. This is also a phenomenon I’ve only experienced in Quebec…. I wonder if the protectionism in Quebec, attitudes towards speaking English and the lingual wall are connected? I think bill 101 had the right idea, but the people might have the wrong attitude. Funny considering that the French was the language of Diplomacy for hundreds of years. Just sayin’….

  9. LONG LIVE BILINGUALISM IN CANADA!
    VIVE LE BILINGUISME AU CANADA!

  10. Wats wrong with this dude? he needs to know we dont live in the US.
    On est un pays bilingue! et il faut l’accepter! on respect le français!

  11. Ottawa U is the most bilingual university in Canada. Despite that, if there is a bias in the sense that people knowing only one language can’t be accomodated by university services, that bias is not against the anglos! All that this girl can whip out is a “french only sub shop”. I have been unable to speak in French with way more uOttawa officials / employees than that. (employees, at the cafeteria in the student center, employees and doctors at the on-campus medical clinic, refs and employees in sports services… and the list goes on for a long time)

  12. I went to OttawaU and was always very annoyed by the fact that many staff members (aka cafeteria, coffee shops, gym, etc.) could not speak French. Being bilingual is a requirement for the University staff. So I’m sorry, guys, but this is a two-way street. You can’t use ONE example of this kind and automatically think that it means the whole campus is going FLQ on you and fighting English. This is intellectually wrong from you, and shows how not aware you truly are of the situation on campus.

    Oh, and about that “in Ontario English is the predominant language spoken, as it should be” comment…way to show your lack of respect for the French minority in your province.

    And about that “Quebec Quebec’s idea of bilingualism is one language only – French” thing…look up that stats, instead of shamelessly displaying your ignorance. In Quebec, more than 60% of the people are bilingual.

    Bottom line: learn the facts, and if you have no clue as to what the real situation is at UofO, refrain from commenting.

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