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Rendezvous returns March 1

The ACFA Jasper Rendezvous sugar shack changes venue to the Sawridge Inn on Sunday, March 4. | File photo





Craig Gilbert |


All are welcome to celebrate with Jasper’s francophone community as Rendezvous returns in March.

It begins with a flag raising at Jasper Junior Senior High School at 11:15 a.m. on March 1, which, if the ink is coming off the newspaper and staining your hands, is today.

The flight of the flag is a symbol of the struggle and the success that life in Canada and Alberta specifically have brought for Francophones since the 1960s.

In 1963 Prime Minister Lester Pearson established the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, according to the Commissioner of Official Languages. Among its recommendations was the creation of the first Official Languages Act, passed in 1969, which counted amongst its two priorities the support of linguistic minority communities.

In 1963, as the Université de Moncton was founding three French-speaking campuses in New Brunswick, the Alberta School Act was amended to permit at least one hour of French instruction per day.

In 1967, Manitoba would allow French instruction for up to half of the school day; Alberta adopted the same policy in 1968. The same year, Saskatchewan repealed a ban on French school instruction in place since 1892.

Fast-forward to 1982 for two more milestones for la Francophonie in Western Canada: the creation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the design of the Franco-Albertan flag by  Jean-Pierre Grenier.

The blue represents Alberta’s population while the white signifies the francophone community. The two floral emblems, the wild rose and the fleur de Lys, symbolize Alberta and the Francophonie respectively. The two diagonal bands that lay across the flag represent the roads and waterways French voyageurs commonly travelled to explore Western Canada.

First-language French speakers have increased in number in Alberta by almost a third since 2006, to about 88,000. About 266,000 of us can hold a conversation in French. Recognizing this, last June the province a French policy that recognizes the “economic, cultural and social contributions that Alberta’s French-speaking population has made and continues to make for the province,” and recognized the Franco-Albertan flag under the Emblems of Alberta Act as the symbol for francophones in the province.

About 15 flag raisings take place around Alberta on or about the first Friday of March each year. In Jasper it kicks off a month of events with a clearly French flair but that are open to everyone, including the highly anticipated sugar shack, this year scheduled to take place at the Sawridge Inn, not the Legion as in years past, this Sunday, March 4. It starts with an apres-ski at 4 p.m. and runs from 5-7:30 p.m.

“It’s a French celebration but everyone is welcome,” ACFA Jasper director Alexandra Dénommée said. “This year the sugar shack is a super-big deal.”

The maple taffy station will be outside but there will be a lot of events inside, including traditional music from Jean-François Berthiaume. There’s a full schedule on page 16 of this issue of the Fitzhugh; stay tuned to the ACFA Jasper Facebook page for more updates.

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