Pride, identity and prosperity: three pillars of culture, according to Nathalie Roy

Culture contributes to the economic vitality, tourism and international reputation of Quebec and its metropolis. This is the foundation upon which Nathalie Roy, Minister of Culture and Communications and Minister Responsible for the French Language, set out her government’s priorities regarding culture during her speech at the Chamber on February 1, 2019.

“Pride, identity and prosperity” are the words she used to describe her vision for Quebec’s cultural and economic development. Here are three takeaways from her speech.

Great ambitions

Minister Nathalie Roy first reiterated her government’s great ambitions regarding culture, to the delight of her audience of over 500 people.

From the moment she was nominated, she reassured the business community that the cultural policy prepared by the last government, around which stakeholders had already mobilized, would be moving forward. She reiterated this promise, confirming that her government will give itself the means to implement the policy and reach its goals. The minister indicated that in order to make this possible, the 1% of Quebec’s budget that is reserved for culture would be maintained, which is a very important fact for the community.

Furthermore, uniting innovation and courage to defend the place of culture in Quebec, Ms. Roy emphasized that her ministry would offer the necessary support to

companies affected by digitization and new business models. Towards this end, she has given the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) and the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC) the mandate to work together to develop services and programs that are better adapted to their clientele in order to face these new challenges.

Looking to the international stage

The new government also wants to increase Quebec’s international economic presence. According to Minister Roy, culture also plays a defining role in this goal. She emphasized that, from showcasing Quebec artists to exporting our creations, culture leads to prosperity.

At this juncture, the former journalist highlighted the importance of the Montréal, Cultural Metropolis Action Plan, a major initiative that has been mobilizing the governments of Canada and Quebec, the Ville de Montréal, and many organizations, including Culture Montréal and the Chamber, since 2007. In her eyes, it’s an important calling card, Quebec’s signature on the international stage. Since the action plan came to an end in 2017, Minister Roy has been considering the updates required and the next steps to be taken.

Additional funding for “J’apprends le français”

Good news! Minister Roy took advantage of her visit to the Chamber to announce $450,000 in additional funding for the “J’apprends le français” program. The aim of this funding is to expand the program managed by the Chamber to include the whole metropolitan area, and it brings the government’s total contribution to $1.5 million.

“J’apprends le français” enables shopkeepers to learn French in their own shops. With the help of a student mentor (a university student studying in a related field: language, teaching, translation, etc.), participants learn the essential elements of French relating to their business, which facilitates their integration into society and their interactions with customers.

Minister Roy said that with this gesture, the government is clearly demonstrating its willingness to support the learning efforts of new arrivals. She also mentioned that other major efforts regarding French learning will be announced in March as part of Francophonie Month.

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