Speakers and learners of French language in India wanting to immigrate to Canada stand to benefit with the Canadian province of Nova Scotia launching its new 'francophone' immigration action plan.
English and French remain by far the most commonly-spoken languages in Canada with more than nine in 10 Canadians speaking one of the two official languages on a regular basis.
The plan, 'Growing Nova Scotia's Francophone Population An Action Plan for Success (2022-25)' aims to attract French-speaking immigrants to support the existing francophone and Acadian communities.
These communities have been an essential part of the province's identity and heritage for more than 400 years.
In Nova Scotia, Latin for 'New Scotland', more than 30,000 people report speaking French as their first language, according to census 2021 data on languages.
The province said in a statement that it aims to meet or exceed the federal government's target for French-speaking immigrants to Canada, which is 4.4 percent.
Recently, 150 Francophone candidates in the federal Express Entry system were invited to apply to Nova Scotia's Labour Market Priorities stream of the Provincial Nominee Program (NSNP).
All these candidates either spoke French as their first official language or had Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) scores of 10 in all language abilities.
In India, thousands of students and skilled professionals enroll in language institutes and universities to learn French, which is the second most widely learned language after English, and the sixth most widely spoken language in the world.
Alliance Franaise is one of the premier institutes in India with nearly 13 branches across the country, followed by ReSOLT in Mumbai and European Institute of Foreign Languages in Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities.
"The whole purpose of learning French as an additional language is to make the entry at the top-rated universities, institutes, or business schools in France and French-speaking countries like Canada, easier," said Nikhil Sridharan, who recently cleared his DELF B1 level exams.
DELF (Diplme d'Etudes en Langue Franaise) is an official certification awarded by the French Ministry of Education to certify French language proficiency in non-native speakers.
"It (French) is comparatively easier than languages like Mandarin, German and Sanskrit, and I picked it up in no time," Sridharan, who is a student of International Relations from a private university, added.
Attracting French-speaking immigrants and migrants to Nova Scotia is of crucial importance to the vitality of our Acadian and francophone regions and community as a whole," Allister Surette, President and Vice-Chancellor, Universit Sainte-Anne, said.
In India, French is mainly spoken in Puducherry, Karaikal and Chandannagar (West Bengal) as they were former French colonies.
As per the recently-released Immigration Plan for 2023-2025, the North American nation wants to welcome up to 500,000 new permanent residents a year by 2025.
Canada is a popular choice among Indians for the quality education it offers, along with friendly visa and immigration rules, and better life prospects.
In 2021, nearly 100,000 Indians became permanent residents of Canada as the country admitted a record 405,000 new immigrants in its history.
It is the second most popular destination for Indians pursuing academic degrees abroad with close to 1.83 lakh Indian students pursuing education at various levels in the country.
A Ministry of External Affairs data shows that in the first six months of 2022, as many as 64,667 Indians going abroad for education named the USA as their destination, followed closely by Canada (60,258).
With a population of a little over 9.71 lakh, Nova Scotia, like the rest of Canada, hopes to attract more skilled workers, including continuing care assistants, nurses and physicians.
Its Express Entry stream selects highly skilled individuals who wish to live in Nova Scotia permanently.
A little over 1,000 newcomers were settling in Nova Scotia each year, on average, in the early 2000s, but immigration has been on the rise more recently, according to a CBC News report.
In 2021, 9,020 new permanent residents settled in the province, according to recently-released government statistics.
Nova Scotia says its retention rate for immigrants is currently around 70 percent -- highest in Atlantic Canada.
Since the launch of the first francophone immigration action plan in 2019, the percentage of French-speaking candidates approved through the Provincial Nominee Program grew to 6.4 percent in 2021 from less than one per cent in 2018.
(Meenakshi Iyer can be reached at email@example.com)
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