Forum on Vulnerable Young Francophones in Minority Communities

1. Executive Summary

On October 26, 2009, the Network of stakeholders working in the Field of Justice and Security (Justice and Security Network) hosted a forum in order to further analyze issues in this regard for Francophone minority communities. This forum was a first step leading to the development and adoption of measures by federal institutions in the area of justice and young Francophones living in minority communities. Forty-eight participants attended the forum. There were 25 officials from federal institutions and 23 representatives from various community organizations in the field of justice, including associations of French-speaking jurists and organizations that work in the field with young people who are vulnerable or at risk.

The forum had three objectives:

  1. Enable federal institutions to better understand the needs of vulnerable young Francophones in minority communities who are at risk of becoming involved with the justice system.
  2. Enable representatives of community groups to better understand the mandates and programs of federal institutions in this area.
  3. Give representatives from federal institutions and community groups the opportunity to discuss potential collaborations and initiatives that could be implemented to reach these clients.

The discussions produced two major findings:

  1. This initial forum enabled community organizations in Francophone minority communities and the federal institutions involved to get to know one another and discuss issues relating to justice and vulnerable youth in these communities. The participants considered it essential to continue these efforts. They confirmed that they were not at the action plan development stage. They were getting to know one another and establishing working relationships. More thought and analysis would be required in order to target actions more effectively.
  2. In terms of needs, the Francophone minority communities (FMCs) were seeking access to prevention services in French that were linguistically and culturally appropriate, as were the services provided in English in their respective provinces. Risk factors in FMCs are not known. To determine whether it would be necessary to define a public policy and a differential response approach in these communities, we would need to know whether these factors were different from those of the majority, whether certain factors such as the communities' linguistic, cultural, demographic and economic situations were risk factors in and of themselves, or whether these factors should be taken into account when implementing the current approaches.

Pursuant to these findings, the Forum participants proposed three follow-up measures:

  1. Conduct an environmental scan that should define the issue more clearly and propose potential solutions to respond to the needs. Currently, the situation of vulnerable youth in FMCs is unknown. We will need to move beyond anecdotal evidence in order to develop a consistent approach. The findings of the environmental scan will be used to develop a strategy to channel our energy, coordinate efforts and implement prevention activities in the communities.
  2. Broaden participation in the working group by including other federal institutions such as Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Health Canada and the Correctional Service of Canada.
  3. Develop local or regional action plans, as appropriate, where the needs are greatest, especially in cities such as Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax, as well as in certain rural areas. These action plans should lead to the adoption of a national strategy for the consolidation, coordination, and oversight of the various initiatives at the local, provincial and national levels.

Evaluations of the forum were positive. The average score for overall satisfaction was 4.10 on a scale of 5, where 1 = very dissatisfied and 5 = very satisfied.

Figure 1 – Overall Assessment – Quantitative Evaluation – Forum on Vulnerable Young Francophones in Minority Communities

Overall Assessment Graph

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