Micheline Marchildon: A natural ally of the Francophonie

Posted on March 18, 2024

With her laughing voice and sparkling eyes, Micheline Marchildon embodies the pride of Francophones outside Quebec. The Our Languages blog team met with her to talk about Les Rendez-vous de la Francophonie (RVF), since she’s one of this year’s spokespersons. Within seconds, she put us at ease; her tremendous energy was contagious. She shared her story readily, with a keen sense of the comic, and her love of improvisation and humour shone through. Micheline is a very vibrant personality! Below, you can read our interview with this Franco-Manitoban comedian, actress and host.

Idols within reach

Micheline grew up in French “miles from nowhere in the Manitoba prairie,” as she herself says, with three television channels and an innate interest in comedy. She enthusiastically describes the influences that shaped her, beginning with Michel Courtemanche, whom she watched on Radio-Canada’s Juste pour rire galas as a child. She was fascinated by his very physical comedy, which used few words.

She also listened to Vincent Dureault on the radio, even on Christmas Eve. It was as though he were one of the family. “At 15, I was a member of the adult improv league, La Ligue d’improvisation du Manitoba, and I had the honour of performing with him!” she exclaims. This proximity to local stars is one of the privileges of living in a small community. As a child, Micheline enjoyed watching Janine Tougas’s sketch comedy show Feu vert, never dreaming that they would one day collaborate on several projects, including a podcast on her life in comedy!

Micheline also makes no secret of the comedic effects she has borrowed from the many American sitcoms she devoured as a teenager. The sense of the comic, the self-deprecation and the timing of jokes are elements she uses in her comedy to this day.

Linguistic insecurity: A source of inspiration

When we bring up the topic of linguistic insecurity, Micheline says with a laugh, “I have a great relationship with my linguistic insecurity! I embraced it and accepted it a long time ago; it provides me with material for a lot of jokes!” Those who know her think of the “Micheline guide for Francophones outside Quebec” (Le Guide Micheline des F.H.Q.), a series of humorous TV and radio clips in which she shares comical formulas for managing linguistic insecurity.

Micheline admits that she arrived at this acceptance with the help of others, such as Marc Prescott, a Franco-Manitoban playwright. When she was 19, he taught her to find pride in their dialect, in their French, and encouraged her to speak with passion and conviction. She was inspired by this advice. “We are perfect in our own brand of Francophone imperfections,” she says.

Micheline’s favourite story about linguistic insecurity takes her back to the age of 21, when she was attending Laval University. On the day she auditioned for the university improv team, she was surrounded by some 50 people, mainly Quebecers from Quebec City, who lived entirely in French. Nervous and worried about not using the right French words, she had a flash of inspiration and did her entire audition in a made-up language, in the style of Michel Courtemanche! Her stroke of genius earned her a spot on the team.

Micheline’s tips for addressing linguistic insecurity

  • Listen to different dialects of French; you’ll find that, around the world, French is most widely spoken in dialect form, not in the French of the Académie française.
  • Become aware of levels of language! They’re like clothes: we don’t wear our best clothes every day, all year long! Usually, we dress for comfort, in casual clothes. In the same way, we have to speak in a language that allows us to feel comfortable and enjoy ourselves!
  • Be daring and use new words – with family and friends at first, until you get used to it, and then more and more often. Use one new word or expression every week, for example.
  • Speak with confidence, passion and purpose. It’s the message that counts, not how perfectly we express it. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

Proud co-spokesperson for the RVF

Micheline’s pride in being Francophone rests first and foremost on her love for the French language and on her collection of favourite words. Her views on the subject are profound, well thought out and enthusiastic. She sees the Francophonie as a common thread that unites us across the centuries, honours our ancestors, perseveres through major historical movements, and comes down through time to us today. But it’s also a link between people, between communities, between nations!

Micheline Marchildon is a natural ally of the Francophonie. As a result, she takes on the official title of co-spokesperson for the RVF with zest – a zest that is evident when she explains that laughter unites people, and the Francophonie is the link. And these two elements go together so well! She feels honoured to have been chosen to promote the Francophonie, to speak about her journey and to spread awareness of this key event among Francophones and Francophiles. “I encourage people to take part in the RVF! I urge them to visit the RVF website (opens in new tab) and explore the tools, contests, activities, educational resources, free films, and of course, our performances!”


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.

Get to know Marise Guay

Marise Guay

Marise Guay

After completing a degree in translation, Marise Guay began working as a translator for the Translation Bureau. Later, she became a language analyst, focusing on clear communication and language content creation. She has since taken on a broader range of tasks, which include managing web content, drafting promotional texts and writing social media posts.


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