Francine Lacasse-Powers, Translator-Reviser
Francophone Affairs Branch, Intergovernmental Affairs
Government of Saskatchewan
In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Association culturelle franco-canadienne de la Saskatchewan (ACFC)—which became the Assemblée communautaire fransaskoise (ACF) in 1999—and to commemorate the Franco-Saskatchewan community's contribution to the development of the province, the Government of Saskatchewan has proclaimed 2012 the "Year of the Fransaskois."
Wayne Elhard, Provincial Secretary and MLA for Cypress Hills, made this announcement in December 2011 during a short ceremony at the Legislative Building in Regina. His announcement was followed by an official proclamation in the Legislature. The Provincial Secretary pointed out that the Fransaskois had not only survived in Saskatchewan, but have also become a vibrant and dynamic community integral to the history and identity of the province.
Paul Heppelle, President of the ACF, said that the Year of the Fransaskois should be viewed as an official recognition of the historic presence of the Franco-Saskatchewan community and of its contribution to the development of the province. With this proclamation, the Government of Saskatchewan recognizes the role Fransaskois played as explorers, pioneers, land clearers, builders and investors in the province.
The first objective in 2012 is to promote the public visibility of the Franco-Saskatchewan community and to make 2012 a pivotal year marking the centennial of the founding of a structured Francophonie in Saskatchewan. The second objective is to promote a sense of belonging and pride in French-speaking people in Saskatchewan.
On February 28 and 29, 1912, at an important provincial gathering in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan, the foundations were laid for a major organization—the ACFC. We now have an opportunity, one century later, to increase awareness of the Francophone community and of the French fact in Saskatchewan. The centennial is an opportunity to reflect on the past, to celebrate accomplishments and to focus on the aspirations of this community.
To mark this anniversary, many activities are planned for 2012. For example, an official celebration organized by the ACF was held on February 25, 2012, in Duck Lake. More events will be held regionally and provincially. One such event, the large gathering of the Fête fransaskoise in July, will include the neighbouring communities of St. Laurent, Duck Lake and Batoche, thanks to La Troupe du Jour, a theatre company. Already, major collaborations—particularly with Radio-Canada (theme song competition, public forum on funding, special broadcasting presentations, etc.)—are underway. Other partnerships are also planned, specifically with the National Film Board, CFRG community radio, les Éditions de la nouvelle plume (publication of a commemorative book) and the Centre de la francophonie des Amériques.
The provincial government, the ACF and the Franco-Saskatchewan community will also benefit from events planned by other organizations to mark the Year of the Fransaskois. These events include the Rendez-vous de la Francophonie in March, and the visit by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in May as part of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. A commemorative plaque and a Fransaskois flag, the official symbol of Saskatchewan's Francophones, will be awarded to certain communities in recognition of their contribution to the province. Other towns celebrating their own centennials will hold colourful festivities.
A proud partner of the community, Radio-Canada Saskatchewan has designed a new Web site to help visitors discover (or rediscover), through radio and television archives, the accomplishments of the Franco-Saskatchewan community over the past 100 years. Check out 2012, l'Année des Fransaskois [French only] on the Radio-Canada site.
Today, almost 20,000 residents of Saskatchewan have French as their first language, and more than 50,000 are able to communicate in French. Together, these individuals make up Saskatchewan's Francophone community. The year 2012 will be an opportunity for the Franco-Saskatchewan community to step into the spotlight and celebrate 100 years of accomplishments.