Grande Cache, Miette, Lac La Biche: at the time of the voyageurs, the vast spaces west of the Great Lakes were for the most part given French place names. French also predominated at Fort Edmonton, constructed in 1795 by the Hudson's Bay Company. A century later, a great wave of migration brought settlers of many origins to Alberta, seeking fertile land and prosperity in the West. French then became a secondary language. In 1892, when the Legislative Assembly made English the only language of debate and instruction, local priests undertook a vast recruitment campaign in Quebec and New England. This helped to swell the ranks of the original Francophone settlements in the province, and gave birth to new settlements in the northern regions.

A network of French schools developed with the Church's help. Nevertheless, at the same time, the government required that all compulsory school subjects be taught in English. The Association canadienne-française de l'Alberta (ACFA), created in 1926 and supported by La Survivance (1928), took on the dual task of providing bilingual teachers for the French schools and ensuring the effective teaching of their mother tongue. The cooperative movement in Alberta owes its growth to these two institutions.

Protected by linguistic arrangements made when the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were created in 1905, public Catholic education in French continued up until the 1930s. It was not until 1964 that an amendment to the Schools Act permitted teaching in French for an hour per day. Franco-Albertans gained control over their schools in 1993. The government of Alberta established a Francophone Affairs secretariat in 1999.

ACFA operates today through a network of twelve regional and two local cercles. Through the years, it has also created several provincial organizations active in specific sectors. As the centre of communication, information and political action for Francophones in the province, the association wants to address the following issues in the coming years:

  • Create stronger ties with its regional member associations;
  • Contribute to a better integration of youth and Frenchspeaking immigrants to the community;
  • Enhance the status of Alberta's Francophonie in the province through the development of a policy on French-language services;
  • Develop a global communications plan for Alberta's Francophonie.