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Camrose celebrates Francophone heritage during month of March

By Leah Simonot, Camrose Canadian

The École Sifton School choir sings at La Célébration de la Francophonie on March 7 at the University of Alberta-Augustana.

The École Sifton School choir sings at La Célébration de la Francophonie on March 7 at the University of Alberta-Augustana.

The City of Camrose joined 35 municipalities across the province in raising the Franco-Albertan Flag to mark the beginning of Les Rendez-vous de la Francophonie. 

The month-long celebration started on March 4 and builds up to the March 20 International Francophone Day to recognize and promote Francophone language and culture.  

President of the Camrose Battle-River Cercle Local Malorie Aubé said she was glad to see the event gather local dignitaries, school representatives and community members. 

“French was the first European language that was spoken more than 200 years ago in Alberta,” said Aubé. “There is lots of contribution and still lots of different signs and symbols that you can see throughout Alberta that was all from contributions from Francophone people. Even in Camrose itself too, there is lots that is being done by Francophones.” 

This piece of Albertan identity remains visible in many communities with French-derived names. For example, the nearby hamlet of Duhamel (20 kilometers southwest of Camrose), was a trading post between First-Nations and European fur traders.   

 “People are always surprised to see there’s so many francophones around (Camrose) but there’s definitely a history,” said Aubé. “Even before the Norwegian settlements came, there was lots of Métis and Francophones around Camrose’s general area.” 

Today, that legacy is preserved in Camrose by a growing network of Francophones and Francophiles — a community many are glad to see grow, including Ramona Parent-Boyd who settled her family’s roots in the city 16 years ago.   

Raised in north-eastern Alberta with French as a maternal language, she values the opportunity to pass down her appreciation for bilingualism to her daughters, a task facilitated by the city’s accessible French education and French advocacy groups, such as the Camrose Battle-River Cercle Local and the Camrose chapter of Canadian Parents for French, on which she serves as a board member.  

 “It was always really important that if you have the opportunity to learn a second language —  and particularly French, it’s our national language —  why not learn it if you can?” said Parent-Boyd. “The more languages you can be exposed to the more you’re just opening up the world to appreciate other people and other cultures and it’s good for your brain.” 

The official theme of this year’s Rendez-vous is “Diversité, Dualité et Dynamisme,” or “Diversity, Duality and Dynamism,” referring to all the intricacies that define French culture and how it has influenced and has evolved with Canadian identity. While each year brings a new theme, Aubé said each Rendez-vous returns to the same driving principles.  

“It’s very important, no matter what the second language is, or your language is, to be able in this world to understand different cultures and where people come from and it really allows you to have a different perspective on things and be able to connect because in the end we are all people and it’s great to be able to connect and be able to expand a little bit our knowledge and what we have to offer.” 

The Camrose-Battle River Cercle Local will recognize International Francophone Day with a “5 à 7” on Monday March 20 at Stockmen’s Chophouse.


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