From the time when France settled New France in the seventeenth century to the present, the French-speaking population went from a majority in a French colony to a minority in an English-speaking country. It was at first located in three areas: Canada, Acadia, and Louisiana. It expanded from the St. Lawrence Valley and the province of Quebec to New England and in many areas of the other provinces of Canada. They brought with them their language, their culture, their institutions and, to a very large extent, their way of life. For a long time, language and religion were the main characteristics of French Canada and Acadia. Change and the welfare state affected them very profoundly in the 1960s and after. The federal government took a series of positive measures, including the Official Languages Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and contributed to the survival and development of francophone communities. While Quebec asserted its difference, developed an independence movement, and paradoxically played a central role in the recent evolution of Canada, French Canada became la francophonie canadienne, comprised of Acadie and provincial minority communities, with the recent return of Quebec.