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The post WWII era was a period marked by tension between the province's French and English-speaking communities. Many Albertans saw a natural connection between Québec and the Franco-Albertan community and, according to historian Donald Smith, many Anglophones let their animosities about Québec's opposition to military conscription affect their provincial relations. During the 1940s and 1950s, most efforts by Franco-Albertans to protect or enhance Alberta's French heritage were met by resistance from the English-speaking community. This included opposition to the development of French broadcasting plus a move to larger, amalgamated school districts that undermined the influence of Franco-Albertans in the education system. French language education became the central political issue for the Francophone community in Alberta during this period.
During the 1950s, the number of Francophones in Alberta actually increased, as many workers moved into the province to take advantage of new industries and higher wages. However, the Franco-Albertan community had awakened to the threat that Anglo-conformity was beginning to pose in the province's legal and political systems.
The concept of Canada as a multicultural country did not emerge until the 1960s, and since the institution of Alberta as a province in 1905, English culture had ruled. Many Anglo-Albertans held the belief that new immigrants and French-Canadians should conform to British values and traditions. The language of the political, economic and legal systems of the province was English, and no special status was afforded Franco-Albertans.
Franco-Albertans did acquire a few small victories in the 1950s, regardless of Anglophone resistance. In 1952, the Alberta School Act was passed, and various school districts in the province were able to offer French instruction in grade one. The act was amended in 1964 increasing the numbers of hours of French instruction allowed in schools. Although they no longer possessed the same linguistic dominance as they had during the early part of the 19th century, Franco-Albertans had begun to recognize the need to take a proactive stance in the preservation of their culture and language.
Smith, Donald B. "A History of French-speaking Albertans."In Peoples of Alberta, Portraits of Cultural Diversity, eds. Howard and Tamara Palmer, 83-108. Saskatoon: Saskatchewan.
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