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Language Rights

For the Francophone settlers of Alberta, French language rights were essential. Although much effort went into trying to maintain bilingualism in provincial government services and communication, not much happened. Schools also lost ground and, for many years, were unable to provide classes in French for those who would prefer it. In relatively recent years, following the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution, it has become possible for Franco-Albertans to regain some of their linguistic and cultural rights.

Language Legislation

In 1891, the Northwest Territories Act of 1875 was amended by the Federal government. The Territories were given the power to pass their own ordinances and control their public expenditures after they had been recommended to the lieutenant-governor. Until 1891, the territories had been officially bilingual.

However, the new settlers, most of them English-speaking, were surprised to find that there were two official languages and some controversy.

An 1891 ordinance made English the language of legislation and the courts for the Northwest Territories.

A second blow to the French-speaking population of the West came with ordinance number 22 of 1891-1892.

After 1891, all education was to be in English. The committee could however permit French language education in the primary grades.


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