Prince Albert Francophone Society celebrate Christmas

Jodi
Jodi Schellenberg
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They may be a small group of people, but they are passionate about the French language.

The Prince Albert Francophone Society held a Christmas celebration on Saturday for anyone in the city who speaks French.

“Basically it is for all people in French Immersion or French Canadian and it is a French Canadian way to celebrate Christmas,” director Richard Grenier said. “We do it early in the season because we have Michel Lalonde who is a French crooner, he is going to do his collection of French Christmas songs. We thought while he is here we would put the Christmas party together.”

Although the evening would end with a performance by Lalonde, there were plenty of children’s activities throughout the afternoon, such as a gnome hunt, where the kids had o follow a collection of clues to track the gnome, gingerbread house decorating and even helping trim the Christmas tree.

“It is potluck, so we share traditionally cuisine from different cultures, not only the French culture,” Grenier said. “At the end we will have a show from Michel and a little bit of dancing, board games and if people want to play cards and hang out a little bit that is what we are going to do.”

Greiner said although there were only 35 to 50 people attending the Christmas party, there are a lot more people who speak French in the Prince Albert community.

“Statistically there are probably 1,500 people speaking French,” Grenier said. “If we count all the kids in French Immersion and everything, we can go all the way to 3,000 people. The people involved in the French community, it is less than that unfortunately.”

He said they are trying to find more ways to get people involved in the Francophone community.

“We try to refresh the set up and get involved with those young people and see what they want and what the French community can do for them,” Grenier said. “That is our challenge this year is to try to reach them and find something that is more connected with what is their reality.”

Instead of putting on fewer events for more people like they have in the past, this year they were focused on reaching every age group.

“Back in the day, the activity was most likely at (Ecole) Valois and now because we are a little more open with the French immersion kids and the families that are mixed most likely we thought it would be a great idea to be in the multicultural centre this year,” Grenier said. “It is more casual so it involves people to know each other because they are so close to each other whereas if you have a big space, everyone picks their own corner. That is a good way to encourage people to visit together.”

This year they put on close to 42 events -- a huge increase from the 12 events hosted in 2012.

“So most likely there is every week something going on in the French community,” Grenier said. “It goes all the way from scrapbooking to golf to bowling to wine classes. We try to, because it is a small community and there is a lot of different age groups, make activities that reach every age group.

“We have something that is more family, something that is more adult something that is more for teenagers -- we try to have that happen every month so everyone has a chance every month to be involved or do something they like but in French,” he added.

The biggest challenge they are facing is connecting with those who speak French in the community.

“Right now we are looking to hire someone who can work on the promotion of the activities in the society,” Grenier said. “The one-on-one (approach) is likely the best publicity for our community. When we go at large in the papers, many people know about us but it is hard to reach our clientele.”

He said people don’t have to be French Canadian in order to be part of the Francophone Society -- if you are English but want a place to practice your French, the Francophone Society is willing to help out.

 “It is fun to see that everywhere there is someone who is a little bit French,” Grenier said. “If we can get those people involved and involved here, I think it will be a success.”

When preparing for the Christmas party Grenier said they connected with many people, including an English teacher who speaks fluent French and wanted to connect with them to keep the language fresh.

“If there are some people who speak French a little bit or curious where they can practice their French or get involved with people speaking French, it is completely worth it to send us an email or give us a phone call so we can send them some information,” Grenier said. “We are not looking for someone who is going to be involved in all the activities, there are too many for that. The strategy is more pick whatever is good for you and bring your ideas and we will make that happen.”

The Francophone Society can be reached at 306-763-0337 or by email at scfpa@sasktel.net.

Organizations: Prince Albert Francophone Society, Prince Albert

Geographic location: French Immersion

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