Rejean Pommainville, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
In December 2020, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) announced a new project aimed at enhancing tools and resources for Francophone farmers – Our Agriculture: Cultivating Opportunities for Ontario’s Francophone Farm Families. Through funding from the Government of Ontario, OFA took the opportunity to translate a variety of resources and information to better support our French-speaking members across the province.
Earlier this year, OFA officially launched the new Francophone online resource hub, which contains translated copies of our fact sheets, issues pages, guides and additional resources. OFA members now have the ability to visit our website and click on the ‘Français’ button located in the top right-hand corner to access the new resource hub.
Since its initial launch, OFA has uploaded more than 55 resources to the hub, including content and information on our most recent advocacy efforts, farm safety fact sheets, mental health resources and our position on key issues and priorities impacting Ontario agriculture. By the end of the month, the goal is to have a total of 75 resources accessible for our Francophone community.
In 2020, nearly 650 OFA members identified French as their primary language, with nine regions across Ontario having five or more French-speaking members. As our Francophone membership continues to grow, this is the perfect opportunity to strive for inclusivity and utilize valuable content and resources to better support and reach our diverse community members.
A lack of accessible information and resources has been an ongoing issue for OFA’s French-speaking community. Many of the farmers in my community speak English as a second language and have struggled to access our resources due to the language barrier. In the past, this has made it difficult for our French farm families to know what resources are available to them. As a French-speaking farmer, I am happy to see that OFA is progressively incorporating both of Canada’s official languages to better suit the needs of our bilingual producers.
Our French farm families are strong advocates in their communities. We hope this online hub will enhance communication and provide access to resources and information necessary to stay up-to-date with OFA business, activities, campaigns and advocacy on current issues and priorities impacting our 38,000 farm business members.
In my experience, many French-speaking members remain unaware of the tremendous amount of advocacy work OFA is involved in to ensure our farms and rural communities can operate efficiently and effectively. If we as an organization take strides and seek new ways to reach our Francophone members, we can work together to create a stronger, united industry.
OFA recognizes and acknowledges the Government of Ontario through the Francophone Community Grants Program for funding this project. We are also grateful for the work and partnership with l’Union des cultivateurs franco-ontariens (UCFO), who supported OFA in the translation of resources.
To measure the success of this project, OFA has created a survey to better understand the needs of our Francophone communities and gauge the effectiveness of the resource hub. We encourage members to visit the hub and provide their feedback through the survey. We value your input as it will help the organization make changes to better suit the needs of our members in the future. If you’re interested in completing the survey, click here to fill it out.