THUNDER BAY – The French language is alive and well in Thunder Bay.
On Saturday it was celebrated in the streets.
Franco-Festival, which began in 2007 and has been celebrated every two years since, brought music, food, games and the best that French culture has to offer to the city’s downtown north core on Saturday, culminating a three-day event that began on Thursday with the film La Bolduc and continued on Friday with a party at the Lakehead University Outpost.
Claudette Gleeson, president of Franco Festival 2019, said there are about 3,000 French speaking residents in Thunder Bay, with plenty more living in the region.
“It’s so important, first to reaffirm ourselves, to say we exist and we’re alive,” Gleeson said. “Where you speak French is mostly in the school system or at home. Very rarely do you see French spoken in the streets in Thunder Bay. And that’s OK.
“We want it to be possible for all three days.”
There’s plenty to see and do at the seventh edition of the Franco Festival, which Gleeson said is a chance for everyone to party a little bit and have fun together in French.
“On stage we have local talent and we have a couple of Quebec groups who are coming in to sing and entertain us. We have French Canadian poutine, we have other francophone food like beignets, which are from Africa, and we have activities for all,” Gleeson said.
“We also have a French-Canadian lego flag, the largest Lego flag, we hope, that has been created in Ontario.”
The event continues until 4 p.m. Saturday outside the Centre Francophone at 234 Van Norman St.