So what’s that French thing you’re involved in again?
I get that question a lot. It’s hard for me to explain my passion for the work I do to people who aren’t a part of it. It’s even harder to explain to people with privilege why such an organization needs to exist at all. The hardest part, though, is teaching the right acronym. For the record, I am currently president of the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française (FJCF), a national non-profit which represents francophone youth across Canada. We have 10 employees, a budget of $2-3 million, depending on the year, and we host three of the largest youth events in Canada.
Why do you do it?
I’ve taken a leadership role in the young francophone network because I want to give back. As a high school student, I was disengaged and frustrated until I found the FJFNB (the NB equivalent of the FJCF). The people I met there and the lessons they taught me transformed the way I saw and interacted with the world and gave me the leadership skills to make a difference in my community. I want to play a role in giving that experience to more students, to empower them. I also want to advocate for youth and change political and social attitudes to do with young people in Canada. Our generation is looking forward to a pretty uncertain future. I want to ensure that that there’s life, love and prosperity in that future for them.
1) I’m francophone. 2) No network like this exists in English (student unions only advocate for university students — this encompasses much more). 3) Francophone youth in minority communities have a particular set of experiences that I identify with and can faithfully represent. I can’t get into it all here, but it’s pretty much what FranÇay What? is all about, so just keep coming back.
What’s this I hear about you being in Senegal?
As I write this I am on the Canadian Forces 001 Airbus on my way to the Sommet de la francophonie in Dakar, Senegal. I’m on my way to represent Canadian youth to the international community. I’m accompanied by community, business and political leaders, including our Premier, Prime Minister, and former GG Michaëlle Jean. More on the Sommet later on.