As I have told you previously, I am the president of the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française (FJCF). But what is that, anyway? It’s a national non-profit that (1) is the spokes organization for 14- to 25-year-old French-speaking youth across Canada, (2) operates employment programs that put more than 700 students to work each year, (3) holds three national events, one of which has over 1,000 participants, and (4) supports a network of 11 similar organizations in almost every province and territory.
Like in any minority, francophone youth need these events to fully grow into their identities. The FJCF brings them together to meet people and have life-changing experiences in their native (or chosen) tongue. It is imperative that young people are able to appropriate their identities in order for them to live them confidently and to shape them for a new generation. Anglo Canada has enacted terrible assimilation policies in our history. Organizations like ours are our response.
At the end of the day, what we do is empowerment. People who pass through the FJCF and the network’s 11 provincial and territorial organizations are always very quick to state how important they were to their development. They came through our programs and found an incredibly supportive network of like-minded people with similar experiences who were just as happy to find a tribe. They were engaged in stimulating discussions and introduced to ideas that they would never have encountered otherwise. They felt that they mattered and were made part of something important.
My role in all of this is to keep it working. As president, I am in charge of the good governance of the organization, am the official spokesperson and representative, and am in charge of carrying out the board’s decisions. I also facilitate the board, most of them younger than 20, in setting a vision for the organization and carrying it out — in short, what all non-profit presidents do. I do it because I want to give back and because I think that I can take the organization, and its members, further. I believe that we are creating the next generation of Canadian leaders, and want to know that we’re doing it right.