French-speaking students from across Prince Albert made their presence felt with chants and cheers as the annual Tintamarre Parade returned to the City.
Students, teachers, parents, and other local members of the Fransaskois community marched down Central Avenue to City Hall before heading to Plaza 88 for a Tintamarre concert.
Soraya Ellert, the executive director of the Société canadienne-française de Prince Albert (SCFPA) said it was exciting to have the parade back after going a few years without it.
“It was a great feeling to have it this year,” Ellert said. “We went a bit overboard as we had a big show on for them at the Plaza 88, and normally we don’t have the musical part of it. This year, we decided to put it on since we had been absent.
“We wanted to really have an impact coming back,” she added. “That’s why we provided a huge show for them. The artists we picked for them are headliners in the French industry.”
One of the parade’s biggest goals it to bring more attention to the French language, and the people who still speak it. Ellert said it’s encouraging to see so many students in French-language or French immersion schools, and the parade helps celebrate their success.
She said it’s good to see the language is still vibrant.
“Being French, we are a minority,” she said. “Unfortunately, there’s not many of us, but the ones who are there, we’re there to let it be known.”
Ellert describes herself as someone who “lives in French.” She tries to use it as much as possible in day-to-day life, even though she works in an English speaking city.
She said there are quite a few people in the area who speak French well enough to use wherever they go, but unless you initiate a conversation in French, you would never know. She hopes events like Tintamarre can get more residents using their French language skills.
“You’d be amazed when you go around the stores or anywhere,” she explained. “Your first interaction, if it’s in French, you’d be surprised to see how many people actually do speak French. I live mostly in French. It’s very seldom that I have to use English.”
There are a few challenges ahead. Even on days like Tuesday, when the French culture and language is celebrated, it can be difficult to get students to use their French.
Ellert is confident the next generation will use it more and more, as long as they have good role models and a little encouragement.
“I was walking around the Plaza while the show was going on and that, and it was nice to see the kids interact between themselves and doing so in French,” she said. “When we first got into the building and some of the kids first came in, some of them had a tendency to revert back to English and I told a few, ‘no, here it’s in French. It’s a French day, so let’s make an effort,’ and that’s all I needed to say. After that it was French, French, French.”