Rogersville's anglophone newcomers surprised by village life in French

·2 min read
The Village of Rogersville is a predominantly francophone community between Miramichi and Moncton that has welcomed some anglophone newcomers during the pandemic. (Guy LeBlanc/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The Village of Rogersville is a predominantly francophone community between Miramichi and Moncton that has welcomed some anglophone newcomers during the pandemic. (Guy LeBlanc/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Since the start of the pandemic, many people from across the country have decided to move to New Brunswick.

Thousands arrived last winter, causing prices in the real estate market to soar.

But in the small Kent County village of Rogersville, a different issue has emerged — minority language services.

Located near Richibucto and about an hour from Moncton, Rogersville has a predominantly French-speaking population.

French is the mother tongue of over 91 per cent of the region's residents, according to the 2016 census.

That means the village is not obligated to offer services in English.

According to the Official Languages Act, a municipality is only required to provide service in both official languages if the minority language is used by at least 20 per cent of the local population.

That has come as a surprise to some new residents.

New Brunswick is well known beyond its borders as a bilingual province, but the finer points of language requirements for public services are another matter.

"We often hear that when they call the office," village manager Angèle McCaie said in a French-language interview with Radio-Canada.

"They think that all the communities and all the municipalities will serve both languages because the province is bilingual, but that is not the case."

CBC
CBC

The situation can create what McCaie describes as glitches.

For example, the village puts out a monthly bulletin for its residents and neighbouring local service districts.

About 3,500 people receive the newsletter and it's written only in French.

Some newcomers have complained about that.

"If we had to translate it into English," said McCaie, "we simply wouldn't have the resources or the staff to do it."

It would also be twice as long, she said.

"We can't allow that."

The Rogersville village website and Facebook page are also in French only.

McCaie said the municipality is looking to develop new mechanisms to help newcomers.

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