l'Association Canadienne Francaise de l'alberta: an organization with big plans!
A small but dedicated group of Francophones and Francophiles has been promoting French culture in Red Deer since the late 1990s.
“It’s been a fairly small organization that has been growing slowly and quietly,” says regional director Serge Gingras.
From its offices in Red Deer Plaza at 7464 Gaetz Avenue, the local branch supports the provincial organization’s mission of promoting French language, culture and education.
“Everything and anything related to French, really,” is how Serge sums up the organization’s focus.
Reaching out into the community to offer support for those whose first language is French or who use French in their homes is big part of ACFA’s work and Serge would like to see even more programs offered.
The group already works with Canadian Parents for French and offers French language courses through its resource centre.
An initiative in the works will focus on connecting with local French-speaking seniors, bringing them together for coffee and to socialize in the language they grew up with.
Serge, who is a leading member of Central Alberta Pride Society, would also like to follow Edmonton’s lead and establish a local Franco-Queer group for the LGBTQ community.
Serge also wants to make more contacts with French-speaking newcomers, both from other parts of Canada and international immigrants.
The local ACFA branch is already getting involved with the 2019 Canada Winter Games and Serge will be looking for 1,200 bilingual volunteers to help out.
“I’m really excited to be part of the Games in that capacity,” he says.
For many Red Deerians, their contact with the local ACFA branch is through the annual "Le Carnaval de Red Deer" winter carnival, to be held on Feb. 23-24, 2018.
Begun as an event geared mostly to local Francophones, winter carnival has been embraced by many others.
“Over time, it’s become more of a community celebration,” says Serge.
It is the connection with the local entertainment community that brought the ACFA and Red Deer Arts Council together many years ago, a partnership that still flourishes.
The efforts of Serge and ACFA director Valentine Skeels have not gone unnoticed. Both were recently honoured along with 10 other outstanding members of Alberta’s Francophone community with Senate 150th Anniversary Medals by Canadian Senator Claudette Tardif.
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