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|Regions with significant populations|
|Canadian French · Canadian English|
|Mainly Roman Catholic|
|Related ethnic groups|
|French Canadians Métis Acadians French|
French history in Alberta goes back to the fur trade in North America when voyageurs (travelling traders) with the Montreal-based North-West Company arrived in the late 1780s. Along with new arrivals from Canada East, the French continued to make up a large percentage of the workforce in the Hudson’s Bay Company after it took over the NWCo. In 1821, and French was the primary European language spoken in what later became Alberta until the 1870s.
After Canada acquired Rupert’s Land (which included the future Alberta) from the HBCo., more francophones arrived from Eastern Canada, the United States, and Europe, this time to settle and found agricultural communities. They were later joined by urban migrants, and there are now French quarters in both Calgary and Edmonton.
However, in 1892, the Northwest Territories (which at the time covered the Canadian Prairies west of Southern Manitoba) abolished French as an official language. In 1984, its status as an official language was restored in the Canadian territories, but not in the prairie provinces.
In 2011 81,085 Albertans spoke French as first language, giving Alberta the fourth largest francophone population in Canada after Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick. Between 2006 and 2011, of all provinces, it is Alberta where the growth rate of the population with French as a mother tongue or language spoken most often at home was the most important. The Francophone population grew by approximately 18% since 2006. In the 2006 census 12% of Albertans or 390,000 people claimed French or Acadian ancestry, making French the 3rd largest ethnic group in the province after British (including Scottish) and German. A combined total of 238,000 Albertans can speak French either as a first or additional language. In the 2011-12 school year 5,943 students in Alberta were enrolled in francophone schools (where French is the sole language of instruction except during the English Language Arts class) and 145,099 students in Alberta were taking French as a Second Language (FSL) classes.
Four municipalities in Alberta are officially bilingual and offer local services in French: Beaumont (15 kilometres (9.3 mi) southeast of Edmonton), Legal (35 kilometres (22 mi) north of Edmonton), Falher (420 kilometres (260 mi) northwest of Edmonton), and Plamondon (204 kilometres (127 mi) northeast of Edmonton).
Franco-Albertans are concentrated in communities such as Legal, Bonnyville, Plamondon, and St. Paul in the northeastern part of the province, northwest areas such as the hamlet of St. Isidore, Municipal District of Smoky River No. 130 including the towns of Falher, Donnelly, McLennan and Girouxville and north central Alberta. Immigration from Quebec to Alberta in the 1970s and again in the 21st century has also increased the francophone population of the province, especially in the cities of Calgary, Edmonton and Fort McMurray.
L’Unithéâtre in Edmonton and the Société de Théâtre serve a French-speaking audience, and a number of folk dancing troupes tour the province. The Centre d’arts visuels de l’Alberta provides a venue for francophone artists and craftsmen, and the annual Franco-Alberta Festival showcases French language and culture.
Francophones in Alberta receive broadcast media service primarily from the television and radio services of the Société Radio-Canada, the French-language division of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, including Ici Radio-Canada Télé's station CBXFT-DT, Ici Radio-Canada Première's CHFA-FM and Ici Musique's CBCX-FM. Francophone community radio stations exist in Edmonton (CFED-FM) and Plamondon (CHPL-FM); a third community radio station, CKRP-FM in Falher, was shut down in 2017.
In print, the province is served by the French-language weekly newspaper Le Franco.
The first notable Franco-Albertan, in many regards, was Father Albert Lacombe.
- Prosper-Edmond Lessard - Alberta’s first French-speaking cabinet minister. Liberal MLA for Pakan (1909-1913) and St. Paul (1913-1921), Senator for Alberta (1925-1931).
- Wilfrid Gariépy - founding Franco-Albertan/Canadian politician, Liberal MLA for Beaver River (1913-1921), Alberta Minister of Municipal Affairs (1917-1918), Provincial Secretary (1918).
- Édouard Hector Rouleau - Medical doctor, Conservative Politician, pioneer of Calgary.
- Jean Léon Côté - Liberal MLA for Athabasca (1909-1913) and Grouard (1913-1923).
- Joseph Miville Dechêne - Liberal MLA for Beaver River (1921-1926) and St. Paul (1930-1935), Liberal MP for Athabaska (1940-1958).
- Laudas Joly - United Farmers MLA for St. Paul (1921-1930) and Social Credit MLA for Bonnyville (1952-1955).
- Joseph Beaudry - Social Credit MLA for St. Paul (1935-1952).
- Léo Piquette - NDP MLA for Athabasca-Lac La Biche (1986-1989), francophone minority rights advocate.
- Paul André Joseph Langevin - Liberal, then PC MLA for Lac La Biche-St. Paul (1993-2001).
- Denis Ducharme - PC MLA for Bonnyville-Cold Lake (1997-2008).
- Hector Goudreau - PC MLA for Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley (2004-2015), Alberta Minister of Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture (2006–2008), Alberta Minister of Municipal Affairs (2008-2011).
- Claudette Tardif - Liberal, then independent Senator for Alberta (2005–present). Francophone of Russian descent.
- Colin Piquette - son of Léo Piquette, NDP MLA for Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater (2015–present).
- Marie Renaud - NDP MLA for St. Albert (2015–present).
- Randy Boissonnault - Liberal MP for Edmonton Centre (2015–present).
- Pierre Poilievre - Conservative MP for Nepean—Carleton (2004-presnt).
- Chris Benoît - Professional wrestler. Born to a French-Canadian family in Montréal, but raised in Edmonton, and wrestled out of Calgary.
- Arthur Boileau - Former professional runner of French-Canadian descent. Represented Canada in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics in the Marathon. Born in Edmonton.
- Benoît Pariseau - Author and broadcaster
- Crystal Plamondon - singer and songwriter from Plamondon, Alberta.
- Les Bûcherons, a duo which presents French-Canadian music and dance to audiences throughout the province.
- Robert Goulet - American entertainer of French-Canadian parentage and Franco-Albertan residency. Migrated with his French-Canadian family from Massachusetts to northern Alberta when he was three months old. Was rumoured to be seeking Canadian citizenship, but died in 2007 before any action could be taken.
- "Census 2016, focus on geography series - Alberta - Official language minority community". Retrieved 17 October 2018.
- "French and the francophonie in Canada". www12.statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
- Alberta, Government of. "Header and Footer". www.culturetourism.alberta.ca. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
- Alberta unveils first French policy