Labour of love for French book sale organizers

Jason Kerr
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Fransaskois residents of Prince Albert and area had a chance to take in the city’s only French language book sale at École Valois on Thursday.  The two-day event brought residents in from around the area to have a look at books they would otherwise have to order online.

Madeleine Marchildon leafs through a book as she browses through a gym full of French reading material on Thursday afternoon at École Valois.

The sale is organized my Bouquinerie Gravel Bookstore in Gravelbourg, southwest of Moose Jaw.  It’s the only French bookstore in Saskatchewan.

“We’ve been coming here for quite a few years,” says Maria Lepage, who runs the bookstore with her husband.  “We come once a year.  We set up for three days.  We invite the parents of French immersion schools and the French francophone school as well as the librarians to come and check out our stock.”

Prince Albert is one of four stops on their trip, the others being Saskatoon, Regina and Moose Jaw.  They’ve been coming up here for years and Lepage says they always enjoy the opportunity.

“My husband’s originally from this area,” she says.  “We get a chance to come up here once a year and we really enjoy the community.  That’s been a big plus for us to come back.”

Bilingualism is slowly rising in Saskatchewan, particularly in Prince Albert.  Lepage says the increased enrolment in French Immersion schools is a big reason for the increase, and thinks book fairs can only help.

“It gives an opportunity for parents to come and buy French books because to combat illiteracy we have to read and French as a second language or a first language is in the same situation,” she says.

Thursday was the final day of the two-day sale.  By the time they finish loading up and cleaning up it will be a week since they got here, and Lepage says they always leave happy. 

“It’s good,” she says.  “We’re very well treated and we know our customers.  We have repeat customers, so that’s great, and we get to meet the new parents that are registering their children in French Immersion classes and even adults who are taking French classes as well.”

Organizations: Prince Albert

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Gravelbourg Saskatoon

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