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Quebec Launches Campaign to Attract French Immigrants - 2002-07-03

The government of Quebec has launched a new promotion campaign to encourage French speakers to move to the Canadian province. The prime target of the campaign is France.

Four-hundred years ago, the Canadian province of Quebec, then called New France, was part of France's overseas colonies. The French explorer Samuel de Champlain visited New France regularly and was a strong proponent of French immigration to North America.

Today, Quebec is part of Canada. But once again, the francophone province is encouraging French to immigrate - both to preserve the province's francophone heritage and to boost its low population.

Manon Boucher heads Quebec's immigration program in France and says Quebec's government wants to almost double the number of French immigrants, to 6,000 this year. "It is important for us not to lose our language," she said. "So in the selection of people who are coming to Quebec, it is an important item to speak French. English-speaking people can come, and other languages can come. But France is the most important country with French speaking people, so it is normal for us to do our promotion here."

The province is particularly looking for young people, between the ages of 20-35. Immigration officials are encouraging those with special skills, such as biotechnology and aeronautics, to apply. Quebec has launched special immigration information sessions, both in France and in other foreign countries.

At a packed session this week in Paris, participants offered many reasons why they were interested in moving to Quebec.

David Franck, a French notary public, said he was Jewish, and was worried about recent attacks on Jews in France. He said things might be different in Quebec. "Perhaps the attitude of the government about the problem of Israelis is not the same as France," he said.

Another possible immigrant, Jean-Pierre Kapuku, who is a financial adviser in Paris, said he believed Quebec offered better opportunities for children.

Mr. Kapuku, who is from the Democratic Republic of Congo, has a dozen children. Because they speak French, he said, they should have no trouble assimilating to their new Canadian home.