by Morinville News Staff
The Alberta government has proclaimed March as Alberta Francophonie Month in the province, complimenting the annual Rendez-vous de la Francophonie celebrations taking place across Canada from March 1-21.
Jean-Pierre Grenier created the Franco-Albertan flag as part of a contest held by Francophonie jeunesse de l’Alberta n 1982.
The flag has a white fleur-de-lys, the symbol of France, a wild rose, the symbol of Alberta, and two white and blue diagonal stripes that symbolize the crossing of rivers and roads by the first French-Canadian pioneers who settled in the province.
The Franco-Albertan flag was raised officially for the first time on Alberta government grounds in 2017. The flag takes on a new significance this year by becoming a Symbol of Distinction under the Emblems of Alberta Act.
“March provides an opportunity to showcase the vibrancy and energy the Francophonie brings to our province, and to honour one of Canada’s official languages,” Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism, responsible for the Francophone Secretariat. “This proclamation recognizes French-speaking Albertans whose contributions to the province began in the 1700s, and who comprise one of the fastest-growing and most culturally diverse French-speaking populations in Canada.”
Locally, the flag has been raised for several years and was raised again at noon in St. Jean Baptiste Park in the company of local dignitaries and Fench Immersion students.
The park event was followed by a celebration of French culture for students at the cultural centre and capped in the evening with French food and entertainment.
According to the 2016 census, more than 268,000 Albertans speak French, and more than 418,000 Albertans are of French/French-Canadian descent. Alberta also has one of the fastest-growing Francophone populations in Canada and one of the largest French-speaking populations in the country, outside of Quebec.