In a unanimous decision on Thursday, October 11th, the 54 official state and government members of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) (International Francophone Organization) voted to include Louisiana in the group as an observing member. “It’s a dream come true,” raved Joseph Dunn, the previous director of CODOFIL, the agency in change of the development of French language in Louisiana, and one of the Louisianians who contributed to the case for the state’s membership.
Peggy Feeha, current executive director of CODOFIL, filed for the American state’s candidacy in April to OIF, which aims to promote French language as well as cultural and linguistic diversity. “It’s validation by the Francophone institution, the heads of states gathered in Yerevan, and the Francophone world that French is alive and well in Louisiana,” affirmed Dunn.
Louisiana contains 250,000 french speakers, mostly “Cajuns” or “Cadians,” a name descended from the Acadians, who are people who came from Acadia (Canada) after being chased out by the English during the Great Expulsion of the Acadians.
Ireland, Malta, and the Gambia have also been admitted into OIF with Louisiana. Of the 88 states and governments involved, 27 have observer status — they do not have the ability to vote, unlike full members. “It’s now up to us to unite, network, and imagine together social, educative, professional, and economic projects that will allow us to take full advantage of this opportunity to show the world that Louisianians, the French language, and French Creole deserve a place at the table,” confirmed Feeha.