A well-deserved honour
The first-ever Gala de la francophonie held in Hearst, on Friday, was largely devoted to honouring Mariette Carrier-Fraser, the outgoing AFO president. And, I must say, that I’m glad that I was able to travel to this event, for it also allowed me to admire the invigorating Northern Ontario winter landscape with its still-pristine white snow! As for the event itself, organisers Fabien Hébert and Marc Bédard, who worked tirelessly under tight deadlines, should be congratulated. Those who attended in large numbers (at least 150) also deserve a round of applause.
Mariette Carrier Fraser was awarded the very first Prix Mariette, and this award, reserved for exceptional achievers, is fully deserved. Indeed, her achievements speak for themselves, beginning with her tireless work in the education field, as a teacher, but also as assistant deputy minister of Education where she was instrumental in paving the way for new French-language school boards and Ontario’s Aménagement linguistique policy. The award also serves to highlight her key role in the creation of the Collège Boréal and Collège des Grands Lacs.
Even in retirement, Mariette Carriere Fraser continued to do exceptional work, becoming, in 2006, president of the Assemblée de la Francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) — a demanding role requiring diligence, diplomacy, determination and political savvy. And don’t believe for a minute that things were simple with the creation of this new organization that was born of the amalgamation of the community-focused ACFO and the more institutionally-centred DECCO. But as a result of Mariette’s skilful leadership, what we are left with today is a strong and healthy AFO that has established its credibility and is well-positioned to face the future. The fact that the leadership race for the succession of Mariette Carrier-Fraser attracted three highly skilled candidates speaks volumes about how far the AFO has progressed under her leadership.
We also owe her a debt of gratitude for her continued involvement in health matters (for the AFO’s stance in September 2008 regarding the first Regulatory Framework) and on the immigration file (where she will continue to represent the AFO for a few more months).
Mariette has an impressively thick Rolodex, and political actors make it a point of promptly returning her calls because they know that she’s open to dialogue, with a proper balance of firmness and flexibility. And we all know and love her overflowing level of energy as well as her endearing personal style.
On a more personal note, Mariette and I have discussed at length my role over the past three years and she has always shown great interest. I wish to publicly thank her for her active listening and her tireless devotion towards her community, whose members know how to reciprocate in kind. Thank you Mariette!