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Rendezvous returns to Jasper

by Evan Matthews |

With the provincial government dubbing March as “Alberta Francophonie Month,” local dignitaries and the Associations Canadienne française de l’Alberta (ACFA) gathered at Jasper’s École Desrochers.

A crowd of teachers and children looked on, as the school raised the Franco-Albertan flag, joining the Canadian flag high in the air.

Alberta Francophonie Month runs concurrently with the annual Rendez-vous de la Francophonie celebrations, which take place across the country from Mar. 1 to 21. Activities include community gatherings, multicultural meetings, ceremonies, shows, film viewings, games, contests and educational activities.

The school played host to Jasper’s Deputy Mayor Jenna McGrath and MLA for West Yellowhead Eric Rosendahl to kick off the month’s festivities.

The dignitaries emphasized the role of Jasper’s Francophone community, and the role of Alberta’s Francophone community as a whole.

“French speaking people have lived around here and practiced their culture for hundreds of years,” said Rosendahl. “Franco-Albertans play a major role in contributing to the Francophone community as well as Alberta’s social, cultural and economic well-being. The French language is as much a part of our province as English.”

Officially raised for the first time on Alberta government grounds in 2017, the Franco-Albertan flag takes on a new significance in 2018 by becoming a symbol of distinction under the Emblems of Alberta Act, according to the province.

“March provides an opportunity to showcase the vibrancy and energy the Francophonie brings to our province, and to honour one of Canada’s official languages,” said the Minister of Culture and Tourism, and the Minister responsible for the Francophone Secretariat, Ricardo Miranda. Miranda visited Ecole Desrochers in December. “This proclamation recognizes French-speaking Albertans whose contributions to the province began in the 1700s, and who comprise one of the fastest-growing and most culturally diverse French-speaking populations in Canada.”

More than 268,000 Albertans speak French, and more than 418,000 Albertans are of French-Canadian descent, according to the 2016 federal census.

Alberta’s Francophone population increasing by more than 12 per cent since 2011, according to the 2016 census, making it the fastest growing Francophone population in the country, outside of Quebec.

The Franco-Albertan flag was designed in 1982, as Jean-Pierre Grenier created the flag as part of a contest held by Francophonie jeunesse de l’Alberta (Youth Francophonie of Alberta).

The flag features a white fleur-de-lys, the symbol of France, a wild rose, the symbol of Alberta, and two white and blue diagonal stripes that symbolize the crossing of rivers and roads by the first French-Canadian pioneers who settled in the province.

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