By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – Francophone culture and heritage exploded, as the French community marched together draped in Franco-Ontarian flags, covered in green and white face paint.
Over a thousand francophone students began a parade through city streets that wound its way to ‘Le Monument de la Francophonie’ on Montreal Road. It’s all in celebration of ‘La Journée du drapeau franco-ontarien.’
“We feel really pressured by all the English around us. It’s a good day to remind everyone we’re French Canadian,” said La Citadelle student Laurent Brisebois. “It’s not necessarily separatism. It’s more preserving what we have without excluding Anglophones. We speak English, as much as French. It’s just important to know where we come from.”
17-year-old Brisebois was one of four youth perfomers singing traditional French ballads from École secondaire catholique La Citadelle and l’école secondaire publique L’Héritage.
As they belted out, ‘Mon Beau Drapeau’ and ‘Notre Place’ a large audience sung along with thunderous pride.
La Citadelle special education teacher Claudine Desjardins said 700 students from her high school proudly participated in the event.
“Today represents our French heritage. It’s to tell everyone that our culture is important to us and important for Cornwall, because a lot of people speak French here,” said Desjardins.
In class, during the annual event, students focused on where their French heritage comes from.
L’Heritage student Katherine Dionne looks forward to the event every year.
“We are proud of who we are,” said Dionne.
Her other singing partners Philippe St-Avnard and Emilie St-Louis agreed.
“Music is my passion,” said Brisebois. “That’s why I love performing today. I get to play for a lot of people.”
As the green and white flag was raised, Cornwall’s la Journée du drapeau franco-ontarien took flight in the eyes of its French community.