Our History

Our History

The Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) is an organization that has evolved over the years.

It began as the ACFÉO and later took the name ACFO before adopting its current name in 2006.

History of AFO


The Association canadienne-française d’éducation de l’Ontario, ACFÉO, was created in 1910 to fight Regulation 17, which prohibited the use of French as a language of instruction in Ontario schools. Senator Napoléon Belcourt was its president.


In 1917, the ACFÉO brought together thousands of students on Parliament Hill to demand that the federal government repeal Regulation 17. Over the years, the ACFÉO led more than 200 legal actions on this issue which is essential to the survival of Franco-Ontarians. Napoléon Belcourt represented the Ottawa Separate School Board before the Supreme Court of Ontario and also argued this case at the London Privy Council in 1916.


In 1927, Regulation 17 was abandoned following the recommendations of the Merchant-Scott-Côté report. In 1929, the economic crisis struck and the ACFÉO had to face problems that diverged from the education realm. The association supported the creation of various organizations, including the Union des cultivateurs franco-ontariens, the Association des commissaires des écoles bilingues de l’Ontario, the Association de la jeunesse franco-ontarienne and the Fédération des associations de parents et instituteurs.


In 1969, additional issues surfaced, including health, arts and culture, and the organization was renamed ACFO. The ACFO created a sociocultural program as well as eight regional cultural centres. In 1977, the association presented an action plan and chose 32 objectives, of which the three central areas were politics, education and bilingualism. The ACFO succeeded in bringing to fruition the first comprehensive development plan.


In 2003, the Department of Canadian Heritage requested a repositioning study from the ACFO.


In 2004, the Baastel and Matte reports came to be following consultations with the Franco-Ontarian community. Following these reports, a committee made up of community representatives, Francophone racial and ethnocultural minorities, the boards of directors of both the provincial ACFO and the DECCO, studied the needs expressed by the community. The objective that emerged from all parties was to create an organization that is more representative, more inclusive and stronger for all Franco-Ontarians. The committee then leaned on the ACFO’s political network and assumed the responsibility of managing the DECCO’s funding in order to create the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario in 2006.


This vignette is presented by the Réseau du patrimoine franco-ontarien

The AFO Coat of Arms for the Franco-Ontarian Community

Identity and historical elements


The first large image is of a ship belonging to Samuel de Champlain, first explorer of the Pays-d’en-Haut, which is what we know as Ontario today. The caravel symbolizes the successive waves of immigration of all stock having built the French Ontario of today. Their bravery, their determination and their desire to build a Francophone space in Ontario are represented by the colors of the ship. The trillium flower, symbol of Ontario represents Franco-Ontarian pride with a fleur-de-lys, a symbol of the Francophonie in Canada. Colors represent green for summers and white for winters. 

The Crest

The symbols are the lyre and the masks of the world of the arts, symbols of Franco-Ontarien culture. These cultural symbols of identity pay homage to all Franco-Ontarian artistic creation in all its forms. The maple leaves highlight the Franco Ontarian’s attachment and contribution to Canada, while the bells are the sound and gathering of The Assemblée de la Francophonie de l’Ontario, formerly the provincial ACFO and initially the ACFÉO. 

Our Motto

“Nous sommes, nous serons” has been the rallying cry of francophones in Ontario for more than fifty years, starting within the provincial ACFO. 


The fine animal is the beaver, which represents the quest for furs and the movement towards the discovery of ontarian territory by Europeans. The beavers wear books around their necks, representing the importance of education in the fight for identity and the survival of the Franco-Ontarian community. Literary creation is one of the tools for expressing the francophone reality in Ontario. The hat pins recall the fight against regulation 17 which prohibited the teaching of French in the schools of the province from 1912 to 1927. The mothers of the Guigues school in Ottawa used these hat pins in order to prohibit the entry of provincial inspectors into the school who had the mandate to report any breach of the ban on teaching in French. On the other neck of the beaver, we see the miner’s pick and the shovel, honoring the pioneers who actively participated in the discovery and development of the riches of the soil and subsoil, particularly in the north of Ontario. The cultivated field represents agriculture, especially in southern and eastern Ontario, while the evergreens are the story of the pulp and paper industry.


The Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario has existed for over a century under different names . Here is a list of its presidents:

Association canadienne-française d’éducation de l’Ontario (1910-1969)

1910-1912 The Honourable Napoléon-Antoine Belcourt
1912-1914 Charles-Siméon-Omer Boudreault
1914-1915 Alphonse-Télesphore Charron
1915-1919 The Honourable Philippe Landry
1919-1932 The Honourable Napoléon Antoine Belcourt
1932-1933 Samuel Genest
1933-1934 Léon-Calixte Raymond
1934-1938 Dr. Paul-Émile Rochon
1938-1944 Adélard Chartrand
1944-1953 Ernest Désormeaux
1953-1959 Gaston Vincent
1959-1963 Aimé Arvisais
1963-1969 Roger N. Séguin

Association canadienne-française de l’Ontario (1969-2004)

1969-1971 Roger N. Séguin
1971-1972 Ryan Paquette
1972-1974 Omer Deslauriers
1974-1976 Jean-Louis Bourdeau
1976-1978 Gisèle Richer
1978-1980 Jeannine Séguin
1980-1982 Yves Saint-Denis
1982-1984 André Cloutier
1984-1987 Serge Plouffe
1987-1988 Jacques Marchand (interim)
1988-1990 Rolande Faucher
1990-1994 Jean Tanguay
1994-1997 André J. Lalonde
1997-1999 Trèva Cousineau
1999-2001 Alcide Gour
2001-2004 Jean-Marc Aubin

Assemblée des communautés franco-ontariennes (2004-2006)

2004-2005 Jean Poirier
2005-2006 André Thibert (interim)

Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (2006-current)

2005-2006 Simon Lalande (president of the interim committee)
2006-2010 Mariette Carrier-Fraser
2010-2016 Denis B. Vaillancourt
2016-current Carol Jolin