St. Jean Baptiste Day is a special French-Canadian event to celebrate the Francophonie of Canada.
On Saturday at North Bay’s Bandshell, the green and white Franco-Ontarian flag was prominently on display at the waterfront celebration.
It was against that backdrop that Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Anthony Rota announced $48,500 in funding for Les Compagnons des fancs loisirs.
The money will allow the organization to offer cultural programming for early childhood learning.
“It is to enhance and allow young people to hear French-Canadian culture. So they’re bringing in shows, they’re bringing in different people who will allow young people to be in contact with their culture, their French-Canadian roots,” explained Rota.
His office further explained how the organization will utilize the money.
“The project aims to broadcast a dozen interactive shows and workshops for children aged 2 to 5 in French-language daycare centers and for 100 to 150 children in public and Catholic school boards in the region. Workshops on cultural and artistic creations, as well as the creation of works in French, with interesting points from North Bay and the surrounding area, will also be offered to program coordinators and emerging artists in the region.”
Rota went on to say,
“When we talk about culture and we talk about learning a language, it is not just the language, it is not just the culture. They go together and you live it daily. And when you live it daily it really becomes alive and it becomes a part of you.”
The Nipissing-Timiskaming MP says it is a good investment not just from a cultural aspect, but an economic one as well.
“Because events like this where we bring in people from out of town, they get to celebrate and they know that if they come from out of town they will get service in French and it allows the economy to grow.”
Arnaud Claude, executive director at Les compagnons says the funding will help children at a young age to get involved in their culture when they are the “most curious.”
“It is a way for us to bring culture, artistic influences to the youngest in the day cares that we manage,” said Claude.
“We’re looking at about 200 kids that are going to be able to benefit at first.”
The one-time funding comes from the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Official Languages Support Program.