BC Association of Community Response Networks

Parlez-vous français? Francophone CRN is Seeking Your Help

The collective efforts of Community Response Networks (CRNs) is raising awareness of adult abuse, neglect, and self-neglect across BC cities, townships, and villages.

In addition to the many CRNs that serve specific geographical communities, the work of BC CRN’s “borderless” CRNs are making an impact with the province’s cultural populations: the South Asian, Chinese, LGBTQ2S+, Jewish, Indigenous and First Nations, and French communities all have CRNs they can go to for support, regardless of where they live.

Initially established in 2018, the Francophone CRN’s newest coordinator Marie Dussault has great plans to further the work of her predecessors to support French-speaking older adults.

“The pandemic changed things tremendously,” she says. “Suddenly, service organizations and communities are coalescing: there is a lot of interest in senior and retiree outreach, especially in the area of abuse and neglect prevention.”

The Francophone CRN make up itself is an example of how good timing, and a common goal can bring together multiple agencies. The CRN, in addition to the BC CRN, consists of representatives, all women, from:

  • inform’Elles: A Vancouver-based non-profit that has been promoting access to support services for Francophone women and girls in abusive situations since 1994.
  • RésoSanté Colombie-Britannique: A non-profit that supports the development, integration, and sustainability of French-language health services throughout BC. Also based in Vancouver.
  • l’Assemblée francophone des retraité(e)s et ainé(e)s de la Colombie-Britannique (AFRACB): They aim to connect BC Francophones aged 50+, supporting and promoting the rights and interests of seniors. AFRACB is part of a large pan-Canadian network. Provincially, they are a member of the Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique. Nationally, they are a member of the Federation of Francophone Seniors and Elders of Canada.
  • l’Alliance des femmes de la francophonie canadienne: Established over 100 years ago, the alliance’s mandate is to defend the rights of 1.326 million women from Francophone and Acadian communities in Canada.

“We’re brainstorming ideas right now, looking at where there are opportunities to bridge language gaps and to improve access. We’re assessing It’s Not Right!, seniors programming from all over the province, and the French resources from the Canadian Centre of Elder Law,” says Marie. “Based on the success of the other ‘borderless’ CRNs and how they have done outreach, we need to figure out where in the province there are francophone communities. Today, we know there are larger numbers of francophones in Greater Vancouver, Victoria, Campbell River, and Prince George. There are others.”

Approximately 65,000 people in BC identify French as their first language[1]. Interestingly, approximately 315,000 British Columbians have identified French as their second language.[2]

If you are one of the 315,000 who can speak French, the CRN is inviting you to volunteer.

“Language is a common barrier to access,” says Joanna Li, Regional Mentor – Vancouver. “If you speak French, you are in a great position to support Francophone adults and seniors. You can become part of a larger network of people whose goal is to create safe, inclusive neighbourhoods province-wide.”

To learn more about this CRN’s volunteer opportunities and how you can help, contact Coordinator Marie Dussault at info@informelles.ca.

To learn more about Marie, check out her profile in this edition: she’s our volunteer of the month!

Written by: Debbie Chow, Links Communication Solutions. Follow Debbie on LinkedIn @debbiechowabc.

[1] 2016 Canadian Census.

[2] 2016 Canadian Census.

(Header Photo: Microsoft 365 Stock Image.)