I am exasperated at being a linguistic minority in Ontario and not being able to/having much difficulty to get social services in French by publicly-funded agencies in communities where 20 to 40 percent of the population is francophone and agencies specifically get funding to operate in this language and serve this designated minority in addition to others. Being vulnerable and requiring social services, or simply having a right to these services, on top of being a linguistic minority whose elders are illiterate or semi-literate thanks to historic, unconstitutional non-funding of secondary schools and outright banning of French language education, and whose youth are often linguistically assimilated, self-loathing, barely functional and ashamed… it all adds up. And when you mention this reality in English conversation, people are often surprised and disturbed to hear about this form of oppression. (“I am surprised.” “It is so strange.” “I can’t believe it.”)
I am convinced that activism for minorities has to be done in part in the dominant language, through dominant cultural codes, and in dominant spaces. Minorities are already aware of their minoritisation (unless they have internalised the discourse of their oppressors to the point of accepting it). This is why I also speak and write about these issues in English and engage in discourse with those who are not affected or even aware, in additional to participating in French-language activism.
Yes, I know English well, it is my “second first language”, it is a paternal tongue, I have an English/Anglo-Irish name, I am bilingual and bicultural… but I am so sick of this indifference and invisibility. Providing French-language services, especially from publicly-funded bodies, is not a favour, it is a right and it is the law.