RVF 2016’s Spokespeople reflect our “3D Francophonie”

pp-3-thumbRVF 2016’s theme is Francophonie in 3D: Diversity, Dualism, and Dynamism, qualities reflected and championed by this year’s spokespeople, Mario Jean and Elisapie.

Mario Jean: A Proud Francophone

The Rendez-vous de la Francophonie 2016 is proud to have Mario Jean, the celebrated Québec comedian and activist, as one of its two spokespeople this year. And Jean is proud to take on the role.

When my colleague, Philippe Daoust asked about Jean’s motivation for accepting the position, Jean reflected on his pride in the Francophone community and the need of Francophones across Canada—especially those in minority language situations, who can sometimes feel isolated—to know that they are not alone.

Jean speaks from experience. Recalling a tour across Ontario where he performed for a variety of Francophone communities in a diversity of venues, Jean described how his French-speaking audiences expressed a longing for opportunities—like the events associated with RVF 2016—to connect with each other, experience culture, and to “live” in French.

The goals of RVF are no less important for Francophones in Québec, suggests Jean, emphasizing that Québec’s Francophonie is invigorated through its connection to the vibrant and diverse Francophone communities beyond. RVF, he says, is an opportunity to foster that connection.

RVF 2016’s theme—diversity, duality and dynamism—is reflected in Jean’s hopes for the Canadian Francophonie.

Elisapie: A Self-Professed Francophile

A self-professed Francophile, Elisapie says that it was natural for her to accept the role of spokesperson for RVF 2016; after all, French was the first language she chose to learn, to perfect, and to craft into beautiful songs.

Hailing from Salluit, Nunavik, in northern Québec (“Under the midnight sun…I see the horizon / That’s where I’m from,” she sings), Elisapie’s first language is Inuktitut, and her Inuit community is explored in her 2003 film “If the Weather Permits” (“Si le temps le permet” if you’d prefer; she produced the primarily Inuktitut-language film in both English and French). From her childhood on, her family encouraged her love of all things French—the language, the culture, and the diversity of the Francophonie in Québec and Canada.

The Juno Award-winning singer, recognized for her music written in all three of her languages (Inuktitut, French and English), is proud of her Inuit roots and is always impressed by how Francophones from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds enrich French-speaking communities across Canada.

Elisapie has lived in the “south” (Montréal) now for fifteen years, and laughs at how she is always speaking with an accent—whether in her second language French, or now in her mother tongue. Like the Francophonie itself, she represents the dynamism that comes from linguistic duality and diversity, and the RVF is proud to have her as a spokesperson.

Kirsten McPherson