September 23, 1:30 PM - Email to University Community
Becoming Franco-Ontarian: A community speaks
“If you live any part of your life in French, have lived in Ontario, and have the will, then you are Franco-Ontarian.”
Bonjour, aanii, hello,
“You are not born a Franco-Ontarian — you become one,” suggested sociologist Roger Bernard.
How then does one become Franco-Ontarian?
To celebrate the Jour des Franco-Ontariens et Franco-Ontariennes (Franco-Ontarian Day), which takes place on September 25th every year to mark the anniversary of the very first Franco-Ontarian flag raising, Laurentian’s Franco-Ontarian students share their views on their identity, language and culture.
“It might be easy enough to get swept up in the enthusiasm of the Franco-Ontarian culture, a proud and vibrant community,” explains Alexandre Noël de Tilly, a fourth-year student in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Architecture. “But it can be more challenging to settle into it in a permanent way. For some of us, identifying as Franco-Ontarian is problematic because of our family, origins or language competencies. A full integration is often the result of an epiphany, a moment of realization.”
“As a resilient Franco-Ontarian, I had to overcome several challenges. Born in China, I was adopted when I was eight months old by Franco-Ontarian parents, and raised in small town northern Ontario,” says Amélia Melançon, a second-year student in the Faculty of Health. “I was not born Franco-Ontarian, but I became one by learning, speaking, and living in French. It is important to me to preserve my language and culture.”
“Being of Ivorian origin, I spent 19 years of my life in my homeland, where I was immersed in French, which is the official language,” recounts Hemliss Konan, a third-year student in the Faculty of Arts. “I am not Franco-Ontarian because I am a Francophone in Ontario; I became a Franco-Ontarian because I want to proudly fly the colours of this flag, and uphold its values with distinction.”
“I was born to a Francophone mother and an Anglophone father,” tells Samuel Bénard-Barry, a third-year student in the Faculty of Health. “I became a Franco-Ontarian the moment I felt proud to assert myself as a Franco-Ontarian. My identity is based on more than language – it is also about culture and history.”
“It became clear to me that if you live any part of your life in French, have lived in Ontario, and have the will, then you are Franco-Ontarian,” states Alexandre Noël de Tilly.
In honour of all Franco-Ontarians, let us embrace the ’vert et blanc’ (green and white) and come together as a community to celebrate on Friday, September 24th, and Saturday, September 25th. Wear your green and white, or pin it to your Zoom background. Chat in all of your wonderfully rich French accents across our campus and in the community. Proudly wear your Franco-Ontarian flag pins.
Most of all, I wholeheartedly hope that each of you may have your own moment of discovery of your Franco-Ontarian identity, language, culture, and community, here in the north and beyond.
Merci, miigwech, thank you,
Robert Haché, Ph.D.
President and Vice-Chancellor
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