Decolonizing the Francophonie of the Americas – La Liberté

The Forum of Young Ambassadors of the Francophonie of the Americas is one of the flagship programs of the Center de la Francophonie des Amériques whose main objective is to offer high-level training focused on leadership and identity. (Photo: Ericka Muzzo – Francopresse)

FRANCOPRESSE – In the first conference of the Forum of Young Ambassadors of the Francophonie of the Americas, historian and author Jean-Louis Roy focused on decolonization, a process to which the Francophonie is not immune. Throughout the event, the 50 participants will question themselves about their role to play in building a strong and liberated Francophonie.

Ericka Muzzo – Francopresse

For Sylvain Lavoie, director of the Center de la Francophonie des Amériques (CFA), which is organizing the event, the question is to know “how do we see each other now? »

” [Il faut] take note of where we come from, [se demander] what is our place now and what place do we want to occupy in the future”, he proposes on the sidelines of the opening conference of the 6e Forum.

Sylvain Lavoie, President and CEO of the Center de la francophonie des Amériques. (Photo: Ericka Muzzo – Francopresse)

“I hope that our young ambassadors will return home with lots of ideas, lots of contacts, full of energy and revitalized to pursue what they already are, that is to say, leaders in their communities, with tools and a network to be able to act more”, blows the Acadian in office since October 2020.

A “transformative” experience

Participant Andrik Risso, who attended the 2014 edition of the Forum in Winnipeg, Manitoba, says that “it was truly a transformative experience, it completely changed my life”.

The one who returns to the Forum as the head of the family, to supervise the new participants, explains that he returned home, to Brazil, with a “broader” vision of the world and a new look at the Francophonie of the Americas.

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“I came back to Brazil more committed, with a little more open awareness of the communities; I really felt like a leader, an engine of change! I started to get even more involved and I was much more motivated,” he says.

At the professional level, he has been teaching French for several years in addition to pursuing doctoral studies related to sociolinguistics, after a master’s degree in cognition and language. “I choose the Francophonie as an object of work, as an object of research”, emphasizes Andrik Risso.

The participant Alice Musele, the godmother Mélissa Ouimet and the head of the family Andrik Risso. (Photo: Ericka Muzzo – Francopresse)

French, a real advantage

For her part, Franco-Albertan Alice Musele hopes to leave the Forum with “a packet of information” and tools that she can apply in her community.

Facilitator of the BUCACY educational program at the Alliance Jeunesse-Famille de l’Alberta Society (AJFAS), whose objective is to teach “our French-speaking immigrant children aged 6 to 12 how to behave, how to make good decisions and how to build healthy relationships in our communities,” she notes that the community is trying to grow and expand its service offering, but that Francophones in Alberta are still experiencing “a lot of challenges.”

“I am from Congo and when I arrived, there was only English around me. I even heard a colleague say that in this kind of situation, you feel hidden, you don’t really want to say that you are French-speaking… You feel a little embarrassed, you don’t know who to talk to, you become mute in the middle of people and that’s not good at all,” observes Alice Musele.

Having attended an immersion school, she realized that her friends spoke English during dinners and that she herself did not speak because she was not comfortable in this language. “At one point, I said to myself: ‘Wait, I’m in a school that teaches French, I know French, but I don’t speak it, why? Why do I have to go get English at all costs? No, it’s up to them to get French, not me to get English!” »

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Subsequently, she completed a bilingual bachelor’s degree at Campus Saint-Jean of the University of Alberta. Even if she emphasizes that English is essential on a daily basis, “at the same time, we value this Francophonie, we really want it to go forward because French is an advantage! »

“Based on this Forum, I tell myself that Alberta’s Francophonie has hope,” she concludes with a smile.

Expand the French-speaking space

“La francophonie is not a bug apart. […] It is also decolonization, it is also the mastery of digital technology, in particular digital governance. […] It’s also environmental issues,” said speaker Jean-Louis Roy at the conclusion of his conference – the first in a series of six, all accessible online.

Speaker Jean-Louis Roy, Quebec historian, author and diplomat. (Photo: Ericka Muzzo – Francopresse)

For Sylvain Lavoie, director of the CFA, “it is somewhat the role of the Center de la francophonie to set this Francophonie in motion: what can I do in my daily life, in my experience to bring moreover, who is going to make sure to expand the francophone space even further? That we will be even more proud of our language, more proud of belonging to this big family? »

A reflection that resonates with the godmother of the 6e edition of the Forum, Franco-Ontarian singer-songwriter Mélissa Ouimet.

“I am very touched to be there, to hear what people have to say in relation to their reality, to their Francophonie”, indicates the one whose role is “to welcome them to my home and tell them a little about it. What are Franco-Ontarians, what is our reality, but also to discuss with them and participate with them during the week”.

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