VIVE CORNWALL: Semaine Francaise celebrated in Seaway City

VIVE CORNWALL: Semaine Francaise celebrated in Seaway City
Msgr. Rejean Lebrun talks about the history of Francophone churches in the Cornwall area at Semaine Francaise celebrations Monday in the city.

CORNWALL, Ontario – The history of local Francophone churches was explored Monday afternoon as Semaine Francaise celebrations were marked in Cornwall.

A presentation by Msgr. Rejean Lebrun was attended by a handful of people to mark the week-long celebration that was once a focal point of the year for Francophones in and around Cornwall and led to widespread support for French-speaking people across the country.

“The young people keep asking their parents and grandparents and want them to tell them how important it was when they were younger,” said Suzanne Villeneuve, co-ordinator of the Centre Culturel de Cornwall. “Back in the 1950s and 1960s about 60 per cent of the population was Francophone.

“But the people were always in small clusters. It was created to unite the people.”

Semaine Francaise ran in Cornwall from the early 1960s until 1999 when celebrations were shelved.

“People were always asking us when it would come back,” said Villeneuve.

The week-long event began on the weekend and will last until June 6.

Villeneuve said the Cornwall Francophone celebrations in the 1960s sparked similar festivals across the country.

“Would the Francophones outside of Quebec have the (visibility) they have because of the Semaine Francaise in Cornwall?” she said, pointing to Acadian events in the Maritimes and others in Manitoba that began in the wake of the successes in the Seaway City.

There will be events every day of the week, centred mostly on Montreal Road and Lamoureux Park, to celebrate Semaine Francaise.

A complete schedule of events can be found here.

Semaine Francaise will culminate with Vive Cornwall in Lamoureux Park on Friday and Saturday. This two-day celebration will feature an interactive Champlain 1615 display, food, music, shows, inflatable games and more.

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