Franco Love - Stephane Oystryk

by Kate. July 6, 2012.

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Beautiful Agony

Some of you may know or not know it, but I'm an English-French bilingual.  My French is rustier than I like it to be, but I get lots of practice with it at my day job working in airplanes.  Parce-que je suis Francaise, mon emploi me places souvent au Quebec.  See, it's not that good.

Anyway.  I was born in Montreal, left tender in first grade, and ended up where I've settled for the moment, Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Turns out the Francophone community here is HUGE!  I ended up keeping my French around into my adulthood, studied it in University (I've read Proust in French, which for me is like reading Shakespeare in English - Do not want, but have done).  I got myself a job at Via Rail, where being English-French bilingual was a requirement for getting the job.  I hadn't really spoken French with anyone but myself for years, save for broken frenglish with my mother, but I passed the tests and moved on to having a job where I could occasionally practice my French in the real world, explaining the areas of Canada that we were traversing through on the train to French tourists.  It was a great opportunity, and brought me closer to my French roots. 

I've also now been introduced to so many amazing French-speakers in Winnipeg, and have been inspired by the language-driven work that they're doing.  Take, for example, Pretty Grizzley (Steph O).  He actually first contacted me because he needed a selection of nude photos to make a mock magazine for his film, Sonata for Chrisitan.  Here's the trailer:  See if you can spot Bailey.

Now he's doing other amazing things, including this short film around Franco-Manitoban youth (aptly titled FM youth).

While I never did grow up as a Franco-Manitoban, the language unites me with them.  It's kinda awesome, really.  To be part of keeping something alive that is stuck so firmly is an English society. 

It's why when people at work talk smack about needing to play the French announcements, I hop on and do them myself.  Because then they realize they're speaking to a French person, and things get personal.  There's so much Franco-hate out here in Western Canada.  We're a bilingual country on paper, but not in practice.  Children are taught to hate learning French, or any other language for that matter. 

Perhaps this is why when English-speaking Western Canada looks at the protests in Quebec, they roll their eyes.  French people in Canada have to fight for their own language, one of the pillars of a culture.  If you have to fight for the way you express yourself day to day, wouldn't that make you fired up enough to also fight for the way you're treated everyday?

A photo series.

C'est jusqu'un snack pour votre brain.

A la prochaine!

(forgive my lack of accents, I'm not sure how to get them on this English keyboard)

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