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French personality makes city unique

One of the things visitors and newcomers notice quickly is Sudbury has a French accent.

Winter 2010It’s not just roads signs in official languages. The French-Canadian community’s roots in the city go back to its founding in 1883. According to the Community Trends Report, in 2009, 39 percent of Sudbury residents described themselves as completely bilingual, and 27 percent called French their mother language. As well, a growing number of young professionals, the first generation of anglophone French immersion graduates, are also proudly bilingual.

Sudbury’s French personality is one of the things that makes the city unique and attractive.

The Centre de santé communautaire de Sudbury offers primary care, health promotion and prevention programs entirely in French.  Laurentian University, the University of Sudbury and Collège Boréal offer post-secondary education in French. There are two French school boards. As well, Le Carrefour Francophone de Sudbury, Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario (TNO),  the weekly newspaper Le Voyageur, several French radio stations, a French book store, a French-language book publisher, and add to the city’s vibrant Franco-Ontarian culture.

The Franco-Ontarian flag was created in 1975 by Gaétan Gervais, history professor and Michel Dupuis, first year political science student, both from Laurentian University.
TNO, which opened in 1997, was the first French theatre group to build its own theatre outside of Quebec, and since has earned praises and honours in Ontario and Quebec.
Le Carrefour Francophone de Sudbury is centre for francophone cultural activity in the city. Le Carrefour organizes events throughout the year and provides countless services; and on the eve of its 60th anniversary, there are even more events on the way.

Some of the services include before and after school programs, daycare centres, and a variety of summer camps.
Christian Pelletier, communications and promotions co-ordinator at Le Carrefour, recalls when he was in high school there were only a few French events on at one time. Now he says there are so many events, people cannot keep track.

“[The French cultural scene] is only growing bigger. It has to be about more than just ‘doing things in French’.”

La Slague presents a series of 15 to 25 music concerts at various venues across the city including Fraser Auditorium, The Grand Theatre, Little Montreal, Market Square, and TNO.
La Slague also organizes three major festivals for the francophone community: Froche, Carnival d’hiver (winter carnival) and the St-Jean Baptiste festivities.

A program that Pelletier speaks passionately about is Slagado. Slagado is a group of concert promoters, made up of 10-15 high school students.

“They meet once a week to learn the tools of the trade of concert promotion (from booking, contract negotiations, promotions, tickets, tech, setup, teardown, etc).

“They leave the weekly meetings with an iPod loaded with great alternative French music (which they rarely have access to at school) and are highly motivated to book their favorite discoveries to Sudbury.”

All of these centre need volunteers to function. All provide great environments to speak French with fellow Francophone’s, or practice the language while being active in the community.

La Carrefour francophone occupies the oldest building in Sudbury, the former residence of Ste-Anne-des-Pins parish at 14 Beech St.
This article appeared in the 2011 edition of Sudbury Living for Students.

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