Alexis Normand: Fransaskoise, and proud of it!
Photo: Nicole Romanoff Photography
Singer-songwriter and director Alexis Normand is one of the spokespersons for the 2023 Rendez-vous de la Francophonie (RVF), which is taking place from March 1 to 31. This year’s theme: “Celebrations”! The Our Languages blog team had the opportunity to interview this Fransaskoise, whose personal story and artistic journey are sure to inspire.
Language and identity
Alexis was born in Saskatoon to an Anglophone mother and a Francophone father. Her parents recognized the importance and richness of the French language and decided to send her to one of the area’s first French-language schools. For a long time, she felt insecure about her language and identity because her family spoke English at home, and not everyone agreed on the definition of the word “Francophone.” She explores these issues with her family in the documentary French Enough, which was produced by the National Film Board and will be presented online during the RVF.
In high school, she was already aware of how important it was to make decisions affirming her Francophone identity on a daily basis. As a result, she started writing songs in French. It was her way of mastering the language and making it her own. These days she chooses to sing in English and French, depending on where her inspiration takes her and what’s in her heart and on her mind. She’s comfortable with the decision to grant herself this greater freedom, which allows her to be more vulnerable and connect more closely with her “true voice.” Each language has its place in Alexis’s life, but both come from the heart.
A rich Francophone heritage
Alexis is a Fransaskoise who is proud of her Francophone heritage. Her documentary and her album, which is coming out in the fall, are clear evidence of that. She feels that the role of an artist involves “cultivating something within that you can then share with others in the hope of touching them.” That’s what she sets out to do in her performances, by creating an environment where people can celebrate a part of their Francophonie and share in a common experience. These events create opportunities to work together, forge ties and bring communities closer together. She places great value on the ability to express herself in both languages and thereby touch a greater number of people.
The importance of diversity
Alexis believes that although artists located outside of large cities often find it harder to establish themselves, their stories deserve to be heard because they give us the chance to encounter different perspectives. She has decided to become actively involved with the Fransaskois Cultural Council to help promote Francophone artists and make their needs known. She has also worked with Folk Music Canada to promote folk music throughout the world.
Alexis is very proud of her artistic journey. She has established a career as a Francophone musician while remaining true to herself and to her roots in Saskatchewan. For her this achievement represents a great success, a privilege for which she is very grateful. Today she has a powerful message for those who belong to a linguistic minority in Canada and who might feel insecure about their language:
Believe in yourself! You have something important to say. Express yourself with pride using whatever words you want, your own words, your own accent. Every expression of French is a window onto a Francophone life. We have to celebrate diversity. The more we open our eyes to diversity, the more opportunity we have to appreciate how rich the Francophonie is.
Spokesperson for the RVF
Alexis feels deeply honoured to be the first Fransaskoise artist chosen as a spokesperson for the RVF. She’s been familiar with the RVF for a long time, and as a member of a linguistic minority, she’s very much aware of what the RVF represents. She sees it as a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Francophonie throughout the country and to highlight everything that brings Francophones together. It’s also a perfect opportunity to promote the Fransaskoise community, its artists and the province of Saskatchewan as a whole. During this year’s extra-special edition of the RVF, marking its 25th anniversary, Alexis wants to celebrate the richness of the Francophonie and of Francophone identities (she insists on “identities,” in the plural!). She believes it’s important to show that there are different ways in which people can live their Francophonie, and she wants to put the spotlight on all those who have chosen, in one way or another, to make the Francophonie a part of their life.
The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.
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