A Word From The Executive Director

For nearly 20 years, CESOC has been working to further the integration and retention of Francophone immigrants in Canada, and more specifically in Ottawa. Today, CESOC, a team of more than fifteen people hailing from a dozen countries, serves on average more than 2,500 newcomers per year.

What could be more reassuring to a newcomer than to be able to communicate with a person who understands one’s problem because he or she has had more or less the same experience? Taken together, our staff, in addition to speaking both official languages, can converse in more than twenty languages spoken in the countries of origin of the majority of Francophone immigrants. That is why CESOC is the benchmark with respect to Francophone immigration.

Despite budget reductions, CESOC has made it a point of honour to maintain the level of service extended to its specific client base, Francophones who have chosen to immigrate to a city in English-speaking Ontario, where they will be a minority. We are deeply moved by the testimonies of the people whom we have assisted during their settlement process and we are very grateful for them. We invite you to read some of these testimonies. Some newcomers had lost all hope of succeeding until they spoke with a CESOC officer who listened to them and journeyed with them until they found the strength to believe in life once again. Many of them have thoroughly succeeded in settling and becoming integrated.

However, there is still a long way to go for some others because even though they have settled, they have not properly integrated. Too many Francophone newcomers are unemployed, too many young people face an uncertain future, and too many skilled professionals are unable to find employment commensurate with their qualifications. Sadly, too many immigrant families face domestic violence and separation, and their children, as well as our Francophone community, feel this impact. We are at a turning point. The vitality of our Francophonie is threatened; Francophone immigrants need guidance in order to take control of their lives more effectively. Many of them are considering starting their own business and need unwavering support in order to make this dream a reality.

Francophones born in Canada need to become more involved in the success of Francophones from abroad for the sake of our pluralistic Francophonie’s vitality and to enable immigrants to experience that to which we all aspire: the social, economic and civic participation in society by all Francophones of all origins. Always on the forefront, CESOC leads by example: a born-and-bred Francophone is now Chair of its Board. Now is the time to unite our efforts and to create a multicultural Francophone minority community that is socially and economically strong. CESOC also wants to reach out to immigrants before they arrive in order to help them be better prepared to cope with Canadian reality.

Furthermore, CESOC wants to work with other partners to address the problems currently faced by those who are already established, such as isolation, unemployment and violence against women and children, to mention only a few. CESOC counts on the support of all its Francophone and Anglophone partners to help it deal with this arduous task. On behalf of all immigrants, CESOC wishes to thank all its partners. CESOC would also like to count on private sector investment in the revitalization of the Francophone immigrant community. Once we can work with all sectors, we will succeed in turning immigration into an economic and social force to be reckoned with.

We are ready, are you?

Saint-Phard Désir