By Fred Bellefeuille

In the 1970’s, there was significant anxiety about the steady decline of the use of the French language in Quebec, especially in business where English had become the primary language of use.  So much so that in 1977, the Quebec Minister of Cultural Development under the Parti Québécois government of Premier René Lévesque, lead the development and eventual passing of Bill 101. This was essentially a French Language law in Quebec that required businesses, government and others to make the French language the primary language of Quebec. As a result of this law, French was the only language allowed on business signs and government services — courts and tribunals had to be served in French as the primary language. While this was extreme, there was both strong support for this law and strong rejection of the law in Quebec.

A few things are undisputable, it significantly altered the linguistic landscape of the province of Quebec. The French language prevailed in becoming the primary language of business, and reclaiming its title as the most prominent language in the province. It also arguably reverted the onus on French people to learn English into an onus for English people to learn French. I have often wondered if this would be a helpful measure for First Nations.

For a First Nation to develop a language law that requires a business to use Anishinaabemowin on their signs, at least to a small extent, for Ontario to have all signs on roads through our communities with Anishinaabemowin translation, to have all non-Indigenous business signs have some use of Anishinaabemowin.

Maybe someday we will see PIZZA HUT read ‘PIZZA WIIGWAMAAS’.