AFRoS general director Maylis Destremau and president Stephanie Lemieux at the AFRoS office in December 2019. Paige Mueller/The Free Press

AFRoS offers online programming for French community

The francophone association is adapting to the COVID-19 crisis by moving online

Every day we see more and more businesses and nonprofits moving online to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, and l’Association francophone des rocheuses du sud (AFRoS) is no exception.

The francophone association has made several changes to their programming in order to facilitate online learning for both their younger and older participants. While programs like “les Tiguidous” and “Le club baguette junior” have moved onto Zoom, AFRoS general director Maylis Destremau noted that many kids and teens are experiencing screen fatigue with all the online learning. Although the online children’s programs are not necessarily easy to run, Destremau said that they are “still fun and very appreciated by the parents.”

The “Club baguette adulte” is still going strong with Zoom meetings since April and is always looking to accept new participants.

“We are still and always adapting our programs and trying to be innovative and original,” said Destremau. “We realize some people get tired of screens and Zoom, especially with the better weather and people preferring to go outside.”

As a recognition that meeting online can be both fun and tiring at times, AFRoS’ latest event allowed people to join through video chat or simply by submitting a photo. On May 20, AFRoS and The Bridge Bistro hosted the Virtual Poutine and Plaid Shirt Contest. People were invited to either order poutine from The Bridge Bistro or make it at home, while wearing their nicest plaid shirts. By either connecting via Zoom or sending in a photo of their plaid and poutine combo, residents were entered to win a $20 gift certificate to The Bridge Bistro.

In another effort to connect community members, Elodie Teulier, who is in charge of “les Tiguidous” and “Le club baguette junior,” launched an intergenerational letter writing project this week. Children were encouraged to write letters in French to seniors “somewhere in the francophone world” to help spread cheer and smiles.

“The community always reacts positively and are helpful,” Destremau said of the changes that COVID-19 has brought. “Schools have been helping us promote our programs, other associations also helped us and we can feel a real exchange and support of the community that wants to adapt. It is new for all and we all have a positive attitude about it.”

Although the association’s annual Francofest will be postponed, AFRoS is still working on ways to promote French speaking in the Elk Valley and beyond through a variety of programs and projects. One such project is creating a list of all francophone services in Fernie to help newcomers with their transition.

“If people want to contact us to join the association as a member, as a volunteer or to give advantage as a francophone services to our members, welcome,” Destramau said.

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