FRANCOPRESSE – In order to measure the impact of the “by and for” philosophy on the personal and professional development of French-speaking young people, the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities conducted a study among people involved in of the French-Canadian Youth Federation. His report confirms the strength of a minority but united network.
Camille Langlade – Francopress
How to be young and Francophone in a minority situation?
As Marguerite Tölgyesi, president of the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française (FJCF) explains, the study made it possible to put words to a reality known to members of the organization, but not always well understood. “We already advocate the philosophy of ‘by and for’, but many people are not familiar with it. »
What is the “by and for” philosophy? ?
“It’s the idea of putting the person at the center of decisions, of a process, of an activity and of making them decide what they want to do while giving them the means to do it. explains Anne Robineau, researcher and deputy director of the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities (CIRLM). Thus, the person has both financial and personal means to act. Some movements, for example, will put young people at the center of their governance structure.
In total, the study identified 25 “impacts” on young people, both in professional and personal spheres. “The “by and for” develops the confidence of young people in themselves and in their network. They also see the adults who have come out of it. It inspires them. It’s circular,” rejoices Marguerite Tölgyesi.
The study notes the fact of “breaking isolation as a young minority”, the “development of a sense of belonging to the Canadian Francophonie”, the “desire to take part in the debate on language rights” or even the “development of greater linguistic security”.
For Marguerite Tölgyesi, the philosophy of “by and for” and the Francophonie are inseparable. “There are really a lot of young people who say that their network has allowed them to keep their language, because it’s one of the only places where they can experience their French without judgement. »
She adds that “at the professional level, it leads to greater self-confidence. We have the opportunity to get to know a much more in-depth French-speaking network, to meet leaders of organizations and politicians. It’s a big learning experience to know that there are Francophones everywhere in Canada”.
The Francophone networks are based precisely on this philosophy, recalls Anne Robineau, who participated in the realization of this study. “When you’re in a minority setting, you have to find a lot of resources to ensure the vitality and development of the community. We are obliged to have this discourse on the “by and for” in order to manage ourselves and make decisions for ourselves. »
To support her remarks, the researcher also mentions the example of French schools in a minority context, which have aspired to self-management, that is to say management “by and for” the Francophone community.
Coming out of isolation
The awareness brought about by the philosophy of “by and for” also makes it possible to break a certain isolation.
“There are very isolated people, who cannot have an activity in French, remarks Anne Robineau. Get involved in the network [de la FJCF] enabled them to take part in activities outside their homes, sometimes outside their province, and to develop a sense of belonging to the Francophone community. »
According to the researcher, “the idea is to have a voice in this community and to defend the Francophone identity. »
The CIRLM study was based on a survey conducted between December 2020 and January 2021 among 158 people currently involved in the youth network or who have been since its creation, almost 50 years ago. Discussion groups were also organized with the FJCF and its eleven member organisations, and around thirty individual interviews were conducted with prominent people in the youth network.
For Anne Robineau, this study draws a favorable portrait of today’s youth. “We sometimes hear that young people are not involved, that they are not interested [à rien]. There, we see that thanks to the network, some have stimulated their fiber of commitment. It gave them wings. »
Challenges to overcome
Behind these positive findings, the report does not forget to mention the challenges faced by the FJCF, starting with tokenism (or the diversity of facades). In other words, it is for a group or an organization to want to include people from minorities (here young people) in order to say that they are inclusive or more inclusive, “to tick a box”, summarizes Marguerite Tölgyesi.
“It is also a challenge for adults to imagine that a young person can make a real contribution to discussion and decision-making. Even within the French-speaking communities, there is sometimes a hierarchy between the generations”, regrets Anne Robineau.
The environment and inclusion are also among the concerns cited by participants in the study. “It’s not always easy to include people who have just arrived in the territory. There may be a defect in the distribution, notes the deputy director of the CIRLM. For parents who have already participated in the youth network, it is easier to share this with their children. »
Among the other difficulties highlighted by the report, there is the feeling that it is always the same people who are solicited. “In some small communities, there are so few people who will get involved that it will always fall on the same young person, because there is no one else. This pressure can lead to a form of exhaustion”, remarks Marguerite Tölgyesi. But the president wants to be extremely positive for the years to come.