Francophone Conference celebrates la francophonie

Francophone Conference celebrates la francophonie

The OPSEU Provincial Francophone Committee’s third biennial conference brought OPSEU members together in Ottawa from June 14 to 16 to talk about creating positive change in their locals, workplaces and communities.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas kicked off the conference – called, “Building our Legacy through Heritage, Education and Culture” – with a keynote address at the historic Lord Elgin Hotel in Ottawa, the ancestral, traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg people.  

“As part of a broader labour movement, we must work to protect and improve French language services and all public services that help our most vulnerable, especially those who have newly arrived,” said Thomas, applauding the Francophone Committee’s commitment to pushing the envelope when it comes to protecting and strengthening French language services within the union and in the community.

Thomas acknowledged the changing demographics of Ontario’s Francophone community since many of its new residents speak French as their first language and come from other parts of the world, such as Africa. 

The conference began on Friday evening with a smudging ceremony and traditional teaching led by Mance Granberg, an Abenaki from the Cowasuck band of the Pennacook people and a member of OPSEU’s Indigenous Circle from Region 4.

The conference also welcomed Daniel Richer, an Abenaki storyteller and town crier. He shared stories of respect and harmony among all living things by demonstrating how the people around the world are part of the sacred circle of life. The evening ended with a presentation from Karolyne Pickett, a Franco-Ontarian filmmaker from southern Ontario.   

On Saturday, retired Collège Boreal professor Pierre Riopel talked about the history of the Franco-Ontarian flag. 

A panel discussion followed on the role education plays in not only the preservation of the francophone culture but also its promotion. Panelists included Dyane Adam, Chair of the Technical Implementation Committee of the Université de l’Ontario français; Catherine Gagné, a secondary school teacher and member of the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO); and Suzanne Rondeau, a primary school teacher and Chair of Unit 57 of the AEFO. 

This discussion was timely given the Ford government’s recent cuts to French language services in the province, including the elimination of Ontario’s first standalone Francophone University.

Conference participants dined together Saturday evening and enjoyed a performance from Acadian singer Wilfred LeBouthillier, a winner of the Québec reality singing competition Star Académie. 

On Sunday, renowned artist, illustrator and Francophone comic book author Paul Roux talked about the importance of comics in Francophone culture.  

Franco-Ontarian artist Stef Paquette closed the conference on a high note with a musical and comedic performance. A natural showperson with a wacky sense of humour, Paquette has crisscrossed Canada with his guitar and harmonica and performed at countless festivals, concerts and schools.

In addition to speeches and performances, the conference also featured two workshops. One provided participants with a hands-on lesson in the grievance process, while the other saw participants creating their own comic strips as an ode to what this medium represents in francophone culture.  

For the first time ever, non-French speaking members were also invited to participate in the conference, with simultaneous translation for those who needed it. 

This conference was a celebration of the French language and culture. At a time where divisive and protectionist ideologies dominate conversations, the 2019 OPSEU Francophone Conference found ways to create a space of solidarity.  

It was rooted in respect for cultural and linguistic diversity for all, with OPSEU’s francophone members leading the way.    



Three health care support workers wearing masks

It takes a team: Thank you to OPSEU/SEFPO Hospital Support members

OPSEU/SEFPO represents 3,000 hospital support staff working in clerical, service, and nursing roles in Ontario’s…
National Indigenous Peoples Day

National Indigenous Peoples Day 2021 Celebration

On June 21, 2021, OPSEU/SEFPO staff came together virtually for a celebration of National Indigenous…
OPSEU/SEFPO president Warren 'Smokey' Thomas speaking

President Thomas honours outgoing CLC President Hassan Yussuff

After seven years as President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey)…
Asian Heritage Month collage

OPSEU/SEFPO staff celebrates Asian Heritage Month

On May 27, 2021, OPSEU/SEFPO leadership and staff gathered virtually over Zoom to celebrate Asian…
CAAT-A Vision. Member speaking to an audience

College Faculty: Bargaining for Better!

The dedicated faculty represented by OPSEU/SEFPO in Ontario’s 24 public colleges are negotiating a new…
Equal Pay Day - April 7 2021 illustration with fists raised #DemandBetter

Equal Pay Day 2021: Women are essential to a fair and just economic recovery

Wednesday, April 7 is Equal Pay Day in Ontario; an opportunity to raise awareness of…
Sheroes Persist. International Women's Day Collage

OPSEU/SEFPO celebrates International Women’s Day 2021

On February 8, 2021, OPSEU/SEFPO leadership and staff gathered virtually over Zoom for International Women’s…
2021 International Water Day Promo, Indigenous Circle, March 21, 2pm-5pm

Indigenous Circle hosts World Water Day forum on March 21

On March 21, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., OPSEU/SEFPO and the Indigenous Circle will…
OPSEU committed to Equity in our Workplace

Stronger than ever

Together we fight. Together we make our voices louder. We are stronger. On International Women’s…
February: Black History Month logo

The time is now to end anti-Black racism

OPSEU/SEFPO celebrates the incredible contributions of our Black leaders, community activists, and front-line heroes this…
Close up of nurse wearing PPE. Text says: Hospital Professionals Division (HPD/DPH)

OPSEU/SEFPO Hospital Professionals: Protecting Ontarians every day

OPSEU/SEFPO’s Hospital Professionals provide critical services in our hospitals, supporting Ontarians throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.…
Picture of Eddy Almeida and Smokey Thomas. Text reads: Then. Now. Always.

OPSEU/SEFPO Holiday Message to Members

OPSEU/SEFPO President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas, and First Vice-President/Treasurer, Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida thank the union’s members…
Correctional Bargaining Unit, man sitting in chair

Every grievance matters with OPSEU/SEFPO

A Quebec union named Confédération des syndicats nationaux, or CSN for short, is attempting to…
A man sitting in chair with Correctional bargaining unit logo

There's no looking back if you choose CSN

A Quebec union named Confédération des syndicats nationaux, or CSN for short, is attempting to…
Correctional Bargaining Unit, photo of Darryl

Better pension and dues with OPSEU/SEFPO

A Quebec union named Confédération des syndicats nationaux, or CSN for short, is attempting to…
OPSEU/SEFPO vs CSN? It's no comparison

OPSEU vs CSN? It’s no comparison

CSN is an out-of-province union asking Ontario Corrections workers to compare them with OPSEU/SEFPO. But…