There is a well-worn proverb: “It takes a village.” This statement very much applies when I consider my experience of French Canadian and Metis cultural activism over the past couple of years. A year ago, before this blog was started, before The Storykeepers Project, before over 1300 people joined the Facebook forum Great Lakes French Canadians, a petition was started and a committee recruited to develop an idea: to ask the governor and legislature of Michigan to proclaim a French Canadian Heritage Day.
We achieved, through the office of Representative Bill LaVoy, a proclamation that named last October 4th, French Canadian Heritage day for 2013. Our goal however is a permanent heritage day. To that end, our petition on Change.org is still ‘live’ and taking signatures.
This year, our Heritage Day is October 3rd, 2014. Please support this ongoing campaign by signing our petition and by getting involved in your local community by planning an event or by reaching out to an organization that might sponsor one.
We have accomplished a lot in one year:
- Voyageur Heritage has increased visibility and interest in French Canadian and Metis culture in the Great Lakes and given voice to a broad range of unique cultural experiences
- Community building through our Facebook forum, Meet-ups, and The Storykeepers Project has strengthened awareness and pride in our cultural heritage
- People have made connections with cousins, made new friends, and discovered that French Canadian and Metis culture is alive and well in the Great Lakes
- Heritage Day 2013 saw events from Monroe to Marquette. Plans are already being made for October 3rd, 2014 throughout Michigan
The virtual community we have made has in some small way helped reconstitute the French Canadian villages many of our ancestors came from in the Detroit River region, Ontario, and Quebec. It has allowed people living in rural areas or far from the Great Lakes to reconnect with their culture. Many people have realized that their family trees represent more than charts — that culture is a layered phenomenon and our French Canadian, Metis, and Native layers are just as vital as all the rest. Thank you for sharing this journey and for helping to build this community – for now and for the future.
Thank you especially to Suzanne Beauregard, Jon Tremblay, Jane Devota, Dawn Evoe-Danowski, Paul Sabourin, Janice Fouchia Lekich, Genot Picor, Kevin Lucey, Liam Collins, Patti Swiss, Theresa Weller, Anne Anderson, and Kathleen Wattle for joining in the effort as committee members and administrators of our forum. I am grateful for the experience of working together for a common cause and for the ongoing support. –James LaForest