What is Franco-Ontarian Day?

September 25 is the anniversary of the raising of the Franco-Ontarian flag. The flag was raised for the first time on September 25, 1975 at the University of Sudbury. Its two creators, Michel Dupuis and Gaétan Gervais, created a flag that represented their community and identity. They used a trillium flower to represent Ontario, a fleur-de-lys to represent the French language, the color green to represent summer and white to represent winter. The flag became the official symbol of the province in 2001.

However, September 25 only recently became Franco-Ontarian Day — the Legislative Assembly unanimously adopted the motion to make it an official day on April 26, 2010. Through this decision, the provincial government showed its support for the Franco-Ontarian community. Franco-Ontarian Day is an opportunity to recognize the cultural, historical, social, economic and political contributions of francophones in the province.

Why is it important to celebrate Franco-Ontarian Day?

Franco-Ontarian Day is an opportunity for Franco-Ontarians to be proud of their community and heritage. It gives everyone a chance to take a step back and remember why francophones choose to speak French. For people who speak French but aren’t native speakers, Franco-Ontarian Day is an opportunity to discover an unfamiliar culture and develop a feeling of belonging to the community.

Many francophones and francophiles don’t know much about Franco-Ontarian history. This celebration can serve as an educational opportunity for people who want to know more about the Franco-Ontarian community and its history. The French presence in Ontario began over 400 years ago, but for many people, Franco-Ontarian history has been confined to the classroom. September 25 is an opportunity to learn about Franco-Ontarian culture and history in real life.

September 25 makes the Franco-Ontarian community more visible. Parades and posters make individuals and companies more aware of the Franco-Ontarian presence. For example, if a hall is rented to host a Franco-Ontarian concert, the owner of the hall and the building staff will become more aware of the Franco-Ontarian community, and they might be more likely to offer French-language concerts again as a result.

Franco-Ontarian organizations work hard all year long to ensure the survival and well-being of their communities. The province should acknowledge their efforts at least once a year. Even though September 25 can and should be seen as an educational opportunity, it should also be seen as a chance to celebrate those who dedicate their time and energy to the Franco-Ontarian community.