“To be a person is to have a story to tell,” is a quote that best describes anyone who has blazed his or her own trail, led the way, took a risk and enjoyed all aspects of life.
For Sudbury’s France Jodoin, life has been a journey with many different turns and corners, each leading to personal success, increased public involvement and happiness.Spring 2009“To be a person is to have a story to tell,” is a quote that best describes anyone who has blazed his or her own trail, led the way, took a risk and enjoyed all aspects of life.
For Sudbury’s France Jodoin, life has been a journey with many different turns and corners, each leading to personal success, increased public involvement and happiness. From journalist to radio executive to literary advocate, and finally to vintner, this mother of three is a person who has a great story to tell.
For many, Jodoin will be as familiar as an old friend. As a journalist and eventually a host for Radio-Canada in Sudbury, her voice greeted francophone listeners on CBON for many years.
“I hosted the morning show maybe a total of five years during two different periods…The rest of the time, I hosted the afternoon and the weekend shows. I also worked for Radio-Canada TV for two of those 15 years.”
Jodoin grew up in Boucherville, Que., and moved to Sturgeon Falls when she was 17. She studied communications at the University of Ottawa, and broadcasting at Algonquin College. She landed a job at Radio Canada in the early 1980s.
“I think I worked on just about every show CBON put to air when I was in radio,” she says, recalling her days as a reporter and on-air talent.
“C’est bon le matin (It’s a Good Morning!) was our flagship show. It was during those years of hosting the morning show and also hosting many other radio shows that I learned so much about the Sudbury community and was so proud of how we were able to promote our great francophone heritage in the north.”
She also lent her time and expertise as a French culture correspondent for the CBC’s English-language morning show, Points North. From there, Jodoin ventured into the realm of television as a journalist covering life and culture for TV5’s popular PassepArt.
She returned five years later to head up all of Northern Ontario’s French-language television and radio programming.
Now one might assume that being asked to fill the chair of director general of Radio-Canada would be a fitting culmination to a career that spanned nearly a quarter century in the media. But not for Jodoin, who has a passion for literature and learning.
Jodoin has played an enormous role in the promotion of francophone literature in Sudbury. In 2004, she was the co-ordinator of the first Salon du livre de Sudbury that showcased more than 40 authors and 60 exhibitors, and drew an astonishing 14,000 visitors to Sudbury. Subsequent book fairs have attracted almost 30,000 visitors to the city.
A self-confessed lifelong learner, Jodoin found time to teach and study. After completing her master’s degree in arts humanities, she taught media ethics and French Canadian literature at Laurentian University.
And when she was able to find herself away from a microphone or a podium, Jodoin, an avid rower, not only coached the Macdonald-Cartier high school rowing team to five championships, but also founded and co-ordinated the Sudbury high school rowing program that involved five schools, 60 students and 13 coaches.
“France was instrumental in getting the high school program off the ground in Sudbury,” says Barbara Courtin, president of the Sudbury Rowing Club. “She worked so hard at getting us our first Trillium Fund grant and that allowed us to finally introduce the sport of rowing to students in Sudbury.”
Last year, Jodoin became manager of a unique used French bookstore that will also be a training centre with Sudbury’s Centre FORA, the Franco-Ontarian Centre for Literacy Resources (Centre franco-ontarien de resources en alphabétisation).
La Bouquinerie du Moulin will be located in the heart of the historical francophone quarter Moulin à Fleur (Flour Mill) at 450 Notre Dame St. (Bouquinerie in French means a place where one can find old or used books.) More than 30,000 used books have been collected to date.
In her new role, Jodoin is dedicated to helping youth at risk, adults with reading challenges and adults entering or re-entering the workforce.
“In May of last year, I was approached with this new and interesting challenge and I had to take it,” says Jodoin.
“Centre FORA is such a great organization, and now I am not only working with and promoting our culture and literature, I have also been given the chance to help those with reading and writing challenges. It is such a fulfilling role.”
Yolande Clement, executive director of Centre FORA, stops just short of raving about Jodoin.
“It is just so wonderful to have someone like France come aboard and be part of our team,” says Clement, who worked with Jodoin in 2004 with the original Salon du livre.
“She is so talented and such a professional. And when she believes in a cause, she just becomes so passionate about her work and is always so driven with positive results in mind.”
Clement says she believes Jodoin, who was also a trustee for six years with the French-language school board, Conseil scolaire public du Grand Nord de l’Ontario, is the perfect fit for her new role.
“She is just one of these people who listens to what people have to say and knows exactly how to react to that,” says Clement. “She is a very special person and we are very lucky to have her with us at Centre FORA.”
For France Jodoin, her life’s journey is by no means complete and one has to wonder what her next step will be or what avenue she will venture down next. In what she explains as her free time, her husband, Garfield McIntosh, a family physician, their children, Alexandre, Andréa and Julie, and she till the soil pursuing their passion for wine and farming on Manitoulin Island.
They have been cultivating more than 2,000 vines for the last seven years and hope to open Northern Ontario’s first commercial organic vineyard, Vignobles de la Cloche, in 2011.
There is no way of knowing where life’s journey will take Jodoin next, but it is a safe bet she will be doing something she loves and she will do it with panache.
“France is so full of energy, she is competitive and talented and is so good at everything she takes on. She’s also a great person…,” says her friend and admirer Courtin.