Alexandre Noël de Tilly
Fourth-year student, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Architecture
“It might be easy enough to get swept up in the enthusiasm of the Franco-Ontarian culture, a proud and vibrant community, 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.
In my case, that moment is vivid in my mind: I was surrounded by proud, young Francophones from backgrounds of all kinds taking part in the Franco-Ontarian Games (Jeux franco-ontariens) organized by the Fédération de la jeunesse franco-ontarienne (FESFO). At that moment, hundreds of Franco-Ontarians were united by two simple things: language and province.
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.”
Third-year student, Faculty of Arts
“As part of a French course at Laurentian University, I participated in activities to promote Francophone culture.
From watching movies at the Cinefest International Film Festival at SilverCity, to seeing plays at the Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario and participating in a theatre production myself, I fell even more in love with the French language and the Francophonie.
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. As a Francophone coming to settle in Canada – Ontario specifically – for my studies, I discovered the Franco-Ontarian culture. Attending and participating in all of these activities made me aware of the size and strength of the Franco-Ontarian community, then encouraged me to value my language, and be proud of it.
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.”
Third-year student, Faculty of Health
“I was born to a Francophone mother and an Anglophone father, and in my family, my mother insisted that we speak French to each other at home.
Since kindergarten, I have attended French school, and throughout my academic journey, teachers encouraged the use of French in school and always reminded us to be proud of our language. At that young age, I did not understand why it was so important to always speak French, whether at home or at school. I would say that it was only in high school that I finally understood the importance of being a proud Franco-Ontarian. I watched around me as many people lost their language and left to study in English.
An experience close to my heart is my first celebration of the Franco-Ontarian flag at the University of Sudbury — being part of this tight-knit community had quite an impact.
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.”
Manager, Consortium national de formation en santé at Laurentian University
« It is difficult for me to pinpoint a specific moment when I became ‘Franco-Ontarian’ since the moments multiply over time, but my first memories of having felt cohesion with this rich and vibrant culture date back to my early childhood.
Huddled around a campfire at family gatherings – cousins, aunts and uncles – singing ‘chansons à répondre’ (call-and-response songs) so enthusiastically, while grandma and grandpa seemed thrilled to pass along their language, values and culture to the next generation.
I often think back to those times when I sing now with my three little girls, still around a campfire, singing the songs of my youth.
Even better, like the culture, my own Franco-Ontarian identity has continued to evolve, and I can add to my Franco-Ontarian memories the celebrations of September 25 and the joy that my children feel year after year when celebrating among friends and family and proudly wearing green and white. »
Second-year student, Faculty of Health
“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.
I agree with the quote by sociologist Roger Bernard. 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.
In nursing, my professors often emphasize the importance of being bilingual in healthcare settings. Knowing that a good percentage of the aging population understands only French (and that when you are sick, it is comforting to be spoken to in your mother tongue), it is a mission for me to practise the active offer of service.
Finally, I believe that Canada’s cultural diversity enriches the lives of all Canadians. Every day, we must be proud of our Franco-Ontarian culture by practising it. Today is our special day, our celebration, the celebration of Franco-Ontarians. Let us celebrate our culture. Let us be proud to be Franco-Ontarians by continuing to raise our flag high in the sky.”
Laurentian alumna and Judge of the Superior Court of Justice
“I am a proud Abenaki and Franco-Ontarian. It is very important to me that all francophones have access to justice in French. I have often been told by very wise people, “If we do not exercise our rights as francophones, we will lose them”. I follow that saying in my daily life.”