Radio-Canada airing French cultural celebration in Sarnia

The Francophone community centre on The Rapids Parkway

George Mathewson

Sarnia’s Francophone community will mark French Week with a community breakfast on March 25, and Radio-Canada is coming to cover it.

The CBC French-language affiliate and its Windsor-based morning host Charles Lévesque will broadcast live from the Jolliet Francophone Cultural Centre on The Rapids Parkway, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

“It’s important for Francophones scattered across the province to hear from other Francophones in Sarnia,” said Robert Renaud, a Radio-Canada director.

“We’re celebrating 400 years of French presence in Ontario.”

Sarnia has about 3,500 residents who identify as French and the community is increasingly diverse, Renaud said.

“Immigration is up in all areas, including the Southwest and the Sarnia area. You’ve got people coming from Francophone countries all over the world.”

Traditional Franco-Ontarians are also being joined by growing numbers of Francophiles, English-speakers who embrace French culture and send their children to immersion classes.

“Certainly the event on the 25th is open to everyone in Sarnia, whether you speak French or don’t,” Renaud said.

The Jolliet centre is housed in the same building as Sarnia’s French-public and French-Catholic high schools – Franco Jeunesse and Saint-Francois Xavier.

And students will be among those attending.

“One of the challenges for any group is to pass on your language and your culture to the next generation, Renaud said.

The French were the first Europeans to settle at “The Rapids” on the St. Clair River in the early 1800s.

And the first European to visit the area was Recollect priest Joseph Roche Daillon. He spent five months in the winter of 1626-27 visiting villages in the Attawandaron nation, whose hunting grounds extended as far west as Sarnia.

Wednesday’s breakfast coincides with French Language Day, which is observed internationally on March 20 each year.

For more information, call 519-332-3774