Projects BY and FOR official language minority communities

Posted on May 30, 2022

What is an official language minority community?

Official language minority communities (OLMCs) are Anglophone communities in Quebec and Francophone communities in the rest of Canada.

As Section 41 of the Official Languages Act (opens in new tab) states, “The Government of Canada is committed to … enhancing the vitality of the English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada and supporting and assisting their development….” Every federal institution is responsible for implementing these commitments. Projects “by and for” OLMCs are one way of accomplishing this.

What does “by and for” communities mean?

The expression “by and for” OLMCs refers to the principle of including communities in the decision-making and/or delivery initiatives. This inclusion can be achieved in a number of ways: federal institutions may consult OLMC organizations (opens in new tab) or partner with them to enable them to deliver services or programs on behalf of the Government of Canada (as third-party delivery organizations).

A “by and for” approach recognizes the importance of the participation and engagement of those most impacted by initiatives. Their participation in the identification of needs, as well as the planning and delivery processes, ensures that their interests and needs are taken into account, allows for a deeper understanding of the needs and priorities, and helps build community capacity.

What does “by and for” look like at Canadian Heritage?

Every year, federal institutions across Canada implement a variety of “by and for” OLMC projects. The Action Plan for Official Languages 2018-2023 (opens in new tab), for example, comprises a number of initiatives delivered through this approach, including the micro-grant program for minority-language schools offered through the Community Cultural Action Fund (CCAF) (opens in new tab). The micro-grant program seeks to support the provision of cultural activities for 1,000 OLMC schools (300 English schools in Quebec and 700 French schools in the rest of Canada). Each third-party organization that is tasked with delivering a program develops its own criteria and procedures for the awarding of micro-grants.

For instance, the ArtistsInspire Grants (opens in new tab) program enables groups to apply for funding to help schools and artists from Quebec’s English-speaking communities to connect through hands-on creative experiences. The elementary and secondary schools in English-speaking communities in Quebec will apply for funding through the English Language Arts Network (ELAN) (opens in new tab), the third-party delivery organization mandated by Canadian Heritage.

Similarly, PassepART (opens in new tab) (available in French only) encourages partnerships between Francophone minority schools and arts, culture and community organizations through micro-funding. PassepART provides students from kindergarten to Grade 12 with the opportunity to experience cultural enrichment in French, contributing to the development of their cultural identity and their sense of community belonging. In order to ensure the delivery of micro-grants to Francophone minority communities, an agreement was reached with the Fédération culturelle canadienne-française (FCCF) (opens in new tab) (available in French only).

What are the advantages of consultation?

As evidenced by the ArtistsInspire Grants and PassepART, taking the time to consult with OLMCs and partner with them in implementation can make a big difference. Inclusive approaches to public policy development and delivery of government investments not only empower individuals and groups to get involved in the public policy process but also serve to build trust and to better meet needs, while also contributing to community capacity building.


The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.

Get to know Arwa Ahmed

Arwa Ahmed

Arwa Ahmed is a senior program advisor at Canadian Heritage and co-chair of the Ontario Official Languages Interdepartmental Network (OOLIN). She is dedicated to preserving and honouring Canada's two official languages, as well as Indigenous languages and traditions. Arwa is also a strong advocate for intersectionality and diversity. She serves on many equity and diversity (EDI) committees, including the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee (EDI AC) and the Canadian Heritage LGBTQ2+ Committee.


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