There is plenty of French at the Vancouver Olympics

with 168 comments

Walking around downtown Vancouver yesterday I was thinking many things.  I was thinking it just might be Canada’s most beautiful city.  I was asking myslef if Vancouver was the first city to hold the Winter Olympics in the middle of summer.  I was thinking that if I was a crackhead I would also prefer to live in Vancouver than, say, Thunder Bay.   I also thought about Pamela Anderson a lot, but the fact that she is from Vancouver was only a pretext.

One thing I wasn’t thinking is : “This is a bilingual city.”

Montréal’s federalist media, Québec’s Premier Jean Charest, the Liberal Party of Canada’s Denis Coderre, the federal commissioner for official languages Graham Fraser, the Heritage minister James Moore are pissed off at Vancouver for not appropriately showcasing Canada only officially approved branding as a billingual/multicultural country during last Friday’s opening ceremonies.

“I am so proud to be a Canadian! It is with great pride that I realized that the organizers of the Vancouver Olympics truly understand the real Canada!”, wrote Réjean Tremblay–in English!–in La Presse. “I am so proud that I had to put some of my emotions in writing in this country’s “superior language” so that the bosses at VANOC would be proud of me.”

See…  I don’t get that.

God forbid Vancouver should present itself to the world as what it is:  one of the great Pacific cities like Singapore and Hong Kong and San Francisco, born of the fateful meeting of Asia and Great-Britain, of wandering Brits, Punjabis, Cantoneses, Hans, Scots and Malays.  A city where English is the common language.

Why do Canadians always feel the need to pretend we’re all living in northern Ontario, hunting moose and speaking bilingual under four feet of snow?  Over two thirds of Canadians live on the Pacific Coast and in the Great Lakes area!  French and snowstorms are as foreign to the culture of Canadians in Vancouver and Toronto as bullfighting yet English Canadians always seem obligated  to pretend they’re living in Kapuskasing!

You hear French all the time in Vancouver.  Walking the city yesterday I heard French spoken by squeegee punks on Granville and very chic Haitian ladies on the waterfront.  Some fluently French-speaking Anglo hipster on Commercial was able to explain to me how to purchase a six-pack.  I even talked French with a Sécurité du Québec police officer on loan to the RCMP.

But I also heard just as much Japanese, Cantonese and Punjabi.  I also heard kids who’s roots could have been anywhere in the world speaking English to each other.  That’s what Vancouver is:  a multicoloured (the concept incorrectly expressed as multicultural in Canadian English) city where people are educated and work in the commonly agreed upon language of English.

Kind of like the society the people of Québec have been trying to build for the last 40 years, except that because it’s being done in English instead of French, British-Columbia it is considered “normal”…

Vancouver is an English-speaking City and its Olympic Games and cermonies reflect that fact.  If anything, it’s the Asian aspect of BC culture that is absent from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic branding, not the French language.

Now, let’s just hope that if and when Québec City get’s to host it’s own Olympic games in 2022, the French language will be as visible as English in Vancouver…

Written by angryfrenchguy

February 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm

168 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. James you infuriatingly put words into peoples’ mouths that they never said… If there is a prize for taking random phrases out of context and using them as arguments to bash the original speaker I’ll be sure to nominate you.

    …alas, I do find your posts witty and amusing when they’re not bashing me.


    February 24, 2010 at 3:06 pm

  2. By the way, I’m please to see we’ve found some common ground regarding Mr. Friedman’s shameful support for US aggression. This could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.


    February 24, 2010 at 3:18 pm

  3. I was just imitating you. Don’t expect me to take you seriously if you offer up armchair bombardier and neoliberal twat cum shill Friedman as a source of moral or any other authority on anything whatsoever.

    I will say this though: I refuse to consider non-scientist George Monbiot a mere hireling of the fossil fuel industry just because he rails at a real scientist who’ve never taken a nickel from the fossil fuel industry on a Britich newspaper’s environment page which is sponsored by Royal Dutch-Shell. Sure, Big Oil pays his sinecure, but that doesn’t mean they’re telling him what to think. So there.


    February 24, 2010 at 3:19 pm

  4. I agree again.


    February 24, 2010 at 3:30 pm

  5. A hearty congratulations to our Womens’ hockey team.

    And of course a big applause to Joannie Rochette. You’re a true star who decided to press on when no one would have blamed you if you decided to go home to heal. A real inspiration and the whole country and the whole world is truly proud of you.


    February 26, 2010 at 8:17 am

  6. J’hésite entre adresser des félicitations aux John, James et quelques autres pour leurs louables efforts d’écriture dans notre langue nationale ou leur recommander de laisser les traducteurs Google «et all» au placard.

    Voici le premier paragraphe d’un article de la Gazette (version traduite par Google)

    «Joannie Rochette a réalisé une nation du désespoir sur le podium en cinq jours remarquable, si elle peut certainement exercer un drapeau dans le demain de clôture des cérémonies.»

    I rest my case.


    February 27, 2010 at 9:08 pm

  7. It’s true that the dominance of English in these Games reflects the reality on the ground, that British Columbia is overwhelmingly English-speaking. What has people upset is more that it just underscores the linguistic imbalance of Canada: Francophones are expected to master English, but it’s perfectly okay for anglophones to be monolingual. The fact that Vancouver had to set a goal that 25% of its Olympic workers would be able to speak French, and then fell considerably short (15%) reflects this. Speaking French is not prioritized in the RoC; it’s more scoffed at as “the price of keeping those separatists happy.” Aside from federal workers, and those who live in Québec, you won’t find many anglophones who have much desire to learn their country’s other official language. Honestly, francophones have to ask themselves if it’s really worth it to put up with this treatment.

    Even though the city of Québec is about as French-speaking as Vancouver is English-speaking (actually moreso, in terms of native speakers), it’s a given that if it gets the Games, anglophones will be massively overrepresented in the workforce. If you can’t speak perfectly in the future perfect in English, you won’t get hired. (Forget 25%; 100% of workers will be required to be totally fluent in English.) And every single thing said in the opening and closing ceremonies will be translated into English.


    February 28, 2010 at 12:55 am

  8. ibus,

    have you complained to google about their service?


    February 28, 2010 at 1:16 am

  9. Tony Kondaks wrote:

    Actually, it was the French elites and Catholic church that placed les habitants in a position of socioeconomical submission. It had nothing to do with the English, although it was quite convenient to blame the English it came time to violate human rights.

    The “historical wrong” was perpetrated by francophones against themselves.

    This is the great lie that anglophones repeat to themselves ad naseum. It may make you sleep more easily, but it’s wrong. The historical record shows that in every province other than Québec (yes, even New Brunswick), laws were passed in the 19th and early 20th centuries that systematically discriminated against francophones and privileged English. To cite a single example, Regulation 17 in Ontario, passed in 1912, forbade any school instruction in French – even in French class! The objective of these laws was clear: to create a population of monolingual anglophones. Most of these laws lasted until the 1960s, and by then the damage had been done. Many people in Western Canada are fully or partly of French ancestry, but these people almost never speak French anymore – their ancestors were literally punished for it, so they did not transmit it to their children. And so a monolingual anglophone majority in Canada was created.


    February 28, 2010 at 1:19 am

  10. Who cares about French and English at the Olympics? We’ve got GOLD!



    February 28, 2010 at 6:03 pm

  11. I am learn english now for my job is to want for me be bilingual. I am seeing stil not much french in end ceremonies at olympic. Why quebecois make gold but ROC ony for english…mabe 2014 quebec send it’s own team to games.


    February 28, 2010 at 11:59 pm

  12. Another Olympic games in Quebec???????? QUEBEC????

    How many people on this blog are old enough to remember much about the 1976 Montreal Olympics and its “legacy”?

    Enormous budget overruns, corruption involving government officials, contractors and organized crime, a crumbling white elephant with a roof that never worked as intended and a burden on taxpayers that lasted much longer than any meager benefits accruing to Montreal, quebec or Canada. Moreover, it would inded be necessary that employees and/or volunteers who would be interacting with the public be reasonably proficient in english. Why? The english language is the international language and therefore it is important that a city wishing to “host the world” be able to provide its international visitors with people to whom they can communicate their needs and interests. Given the widespread antipathy toward anglophones, quebec city would be one of the last places the I.O.C. would likely consider as a host city. Perhaps there is some sort of francophone games; quebec would be perfect for such an event.

    Nogames forquebec

    March 1, 2010 at 12:17 am

  13. What?


    March 1, 2010 at 12:21 am

  14. HA! I was wondering about this myself. Did anyone else here notice the Acadian flag at the hockey gold medal game? Well done, Bobby.


    March 5, 2010 at 11:57 pm

  15. <3


    March 19, 2010 at 8:12 pm

  16. I dont know if anyone metioned it yet, but scots are brits :D


    June 27, 2010 at 6:29 pm

  17. , there is another liltte woman here that is worthy of support and attention. Mother Teresa was indeed tiny and she dreamed a big dream. The project that eventually brought her to St. Paul in 1982 began when Bishop Roy offered us some free land to begin a fund raiser to help her.It was the tireless work and inspiration of my late partner and friend Jean Louis Lagasse that made the big dream a reality. The rest is history.Last week Bishop Gary of Whitehorse stopped by for a visit . He offered the gift of a lot owned by the Diocese if I could find away to make it benefit the poor. The timing is peculiar as I am in the midst of planning a move. I lead a very solitary life here and the prospect of undertaking another big project seems prohibitive. I have always admired Jean Vanier and what he did by bringing the world L\’Arche. There may be a possibility of building a home here in Yukon for L\’Arche.I am bewildered and overwhelmed at the possibility.Just to add: The St. Paul delegation built a fire and brought a branding iron on which they burned the Habitat logo on recycled pieces of cedar we were able to scavenge. I wonder if any of those momentos has survived?When Mother Theresa visited St. Paul AB. in 1982, she attended at the Barbara Ward Center there, accepted a cheque for nearly a million dollars for the Lepers of Calcutta, and was bestowed any Honorary Doctorate from my Alma Mater, The University of Alberta.


    December 30, 2013 at 9:04 am

  18. That’s really thinking of the highest order

    cheap levitra

    April 23, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: