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French Language Services Commissioner
Well, I am back to the office after a busy parental leave (not to be confused with vacation time…). And I have to say that the time I spent with our little Sabrina was well worth it.
That said, however, my parental leave did not stand in the way of my full participation in the Conference on 25 years of the French Language Services Act. It was truly awesome. To everyone involved in the organisation of this memorable event, my sincere thanks, including the work done by members of my Office.
I certainly emerged from these two days of discussion with many issues to consider and ponder with the rest of my team. Some are clearly addressed to the members of the Francophone community, others concern the Government of Ontario while many involve the Commissioner’s Office.
One thing stood out for me, though. While listening to the re-enactment of the debates leading up to the adoption of the French Language Services Act twenty-five years ago, I surprised myself with a clearer understanding of what the Act represented at the time: the Act was not considered an end unto itself, but rather a stepping stone. To be sure, this Act, despite its flaws and imperfections, represented an important step forward but certainly not the final destination for Ontario’s Francophone community. Where to from here? Conference participants provided us with excellent answers and suggestions that will fuel our thoughts for weeks to come. To be continued.
Sunday, Francophones and Francophiles in Ontario will be celebrating. Indeed, September 25 is Franco-Ontarian Day.
It’s a day when green and white will be proudly displayed across all parts of Ontario to celebrate and recognize the contribution of the Francophone community to the cultural, historical, social, economic and political life of the province. In Toronto, even the CN Tower will be highlighting our proud contributions!
In fact, the celebrations have already begun. One of those celebrations was a get-together organized by the network of Francophone public service employees of the Government of Ontario (FrancoGo) that I attended with my daughter, Sabrina, and spouse, Lucie. I truly enjoyed the comedy sketches and musical performances. Congratulations to this highly creative and talented group of public sector employees!
Finally, this morning, I had the honour of taking part in a ceremony celebrating the Franco-Ontarian flag organized by the ACFO/AFO Régionale Hamilton. It was the first time in Hamilton that our emblem was placed alongside the Canadian maple leaf and the flag of Ontario. Truly, this was a historic moment.
Addressing a municipal chamber filled to capacity with both young and old, deputy mayor Brian Hattie expressed his wish that this gesture be more than symbolic. Indeed, the deputy mayor believes it is important to rebuild permanent ties with Hamilton’s Francophone community in order to provide services that address their needs, in particular those of recent immigrants. This message received a warm welcome.
Celebrating our flag and Franco-Ontarian Day allow us to hold such events — events that strengthen our feelings of belonging and pride. That’s why I had no hesitation to interrupt my parental leave (not to be confused with a vacation… which has nothing to do with the challenges of raising a child!) to travel to Hamilton, a community that helped inspire the Ontario Government to adopt a more inclusive definition of Francophone.
Enjoy the celebrations, and to all, I wish you a happy Franco-Ontarian Day!
Another sad announcement — and once again, we mourn.
I have just been informed of the passing of Francine Chartrand Dutrisac.
Francine was a woman of action, well known, respected and appreciated by the Francophone community for her professionalism and her expertise. For over 25 years, she held several management positions in the post-secondary education field as well as having led numerous committees on education and culture.
Francine was a visionary who received several professional distinctions throughout her career including the Medal of Excellence of the Regroupement des gens d’affaires de la capital nationale and an Award of Merit from the Réseau des Cégeps et des Collèges francophones du Canada.
On a more personal note, Francine was a devoted human whose commitment to engage were highly appreciated by members of her community. She was always prepared to generously give of her time. With her passing, we are also losing a friend: a friend who was never hesitant to help the Commissioner’s Office set up my various meetings in Northern Ontario, thanks to her vast network of contacts!
I would like to express my deepest condolences — both personally and on behalf of the Commissioner’s Office — to Denis Hubert Dutrisac, Francine’s husband, as well as to her family and friends and the entire staff of Collège Boréal.
It is with great sadness that I was informed, early this week, of the passing of Gilles Barbeau.
Gilles was a pillar of the Francophone community. For many years, he was the chair of Toronto’s French-language health planning services committee as well as director of the Centres d’Accueil Héritage.
I would like to publicly offer, to his family and close friends, my sincerest condolences.
A visitation will be held Thursday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Paul O’Connor Funeral Home (1939, Lawrence Avenue East, Toronto).