The B.C. government declared March 20, 2018 as B.C. Francophonie Day, a day to celebrate the French language and the contributions French-speaking citizens make to our province.
The Township raised the Franco-Columbian flag on that day to acknowledge the francophone contribution to our economy, education system and culture.
Later this year the Township will be hosting the 50+ Francophone Festival, a celebration of francophone culture at L’école Victor-Brodeur.
The festival, which includes four fun-filled days of francophone art, culture and recreation, will be held Aug. 16 to 19.
This local celebration, and the province’s declaration, are both welcomed by the Township; francophones have been an important presence in the history and development of Esquimalt.
Their role in the province as a whole is significant: outside of Quebec, B.C. has the fourth-largest population of francophones in Canada. There are more than 70,000 francophones and 300,000 French-speaking people in British Columbia.
L’école Victor-Brodeur, which can accommodate up to 540 students, is a treasure in the Township. It serves francophone children of military parents at CFB Esquimalt, as well as the wider community wishing to learn or maintain the French language in a francophone environment.
L’école Victor-Brodeur is not only a French-first language school (the second largest school of its kind in the province), it is a community centre for the local francophone community.
It is named after Quebec-born Royal Canadian Naval Officer Victor-Gabriel Brodeur, who reached the rank of rear admiral and was captain with HMCS Naden.
He was the first French-speaking commander of the Maritime Forces Pacific from 1943 to 1946.
Esquimalt has played host to a number of francophone cultural events over the years, including the Francophone Film Festival and the Francofete during our centennial year in 2012.
We look forward to many more francophone festivals and events in the future.
For more information on the 50+ Francophone Festival, please visit www.ff50plus.ca.
Barb Desjardins is mayor of the Township of Esquimalt.