Today is le Jour des Franco-Ontariens, a day to celebrate the culture and heritage of French speakers from across the province. 25 September was designated Franco-Ontario Day in 2010 when the Ontario Legislative Assembly unanimously adopted the motion. According the province's Office of Francophone Affairs this day will "officially recognize the contribution of Ontario's Francophone community to the cultural, historical, social, economic and political life of the province".
My school took a field trip to London today to experience a morning of activities alongside over a thousand other students from French-language public and catholic schools. I was happy to see that it was truly a celebration of inclusion, focusing on the fact that we can all belong even if we don't necessarily a share a common heritage.
The notion of language tying us together is really cool and is personal to me. It's important that access to the identity is not limited to native speakers, but to all who wish to communicate despite their ability levels. I've long been confused about whether or not I feel closer to Ontario or to Québec, and this question will probably continue long into my future. I know I'm an anglophone, but speaking French, sharing secular French traditions, and sharing certain community values has always been something important to me, particularly in the past few years.
I first discovered Franco-Ontarian as an identity when I moved to Ottawa. I became aware of the community, even if I didn't feel necessarily connected to it. A few years in Québec and a few contracts in the Conseil scolaire Viamonde and I'm now feeling strong ties to other Franco-Ontariens, who are my colleagues, my students, my friends, and my community. It is with a fair amount of pride that I feel welcomed in the Franco-Ontarian community as an anglophone. I've spent my whole life being interested in the French language and culture and I'm lucky to be able to participate in it so fully.
The future of French schools in Ontario is bright as enrolment is steadily increasing as more people discover the value of diversity and cultural experience. Cultural exchage benefits us all I am really happy to be a participant and facilitator in this regard.