Students from Ecole Isabella Dicken Elementary School and Ecole Sophie-Morigeau joined together to celebrate Semaine de la Francophonie, or francophone week, this past week. Though official celebrations occur March 17 to March 25, with Francophonie Day landing on March 20, the local schools celebrated the event early due to international festivities falling during their march break.
“La Semaine de la Francophonie is a worldwide week of francophone celebrations. We’ve put together activities to bring our French speaking students and children together in Fernie,” said Patrice Oscienny, grade six French immersion teacher at Isabella Dicken.
Participating in the festivities were 24 grade six Isabella Dicken students, who have been in French immersion since grade four. They were joined by all 41 students from Sophie-Morigeau, who have been immersed in French since the start of kindergarten.
The joint event took place on the field outside of Sophie-Morigeau, where various activities that honoured French culture were scattered throughout the snow. On one end of the playground, cheers emanated as students faced each other in a variety of Minute to Win It challenges. Next to that, the children raced in snowshoes to dress a snowman in traditional Bonhomme Carnaval sashes, a trademark of French culture originating from Quebec’s famous winter festival.
Other games included musical chairs, and the building of a human pyramid where kids had to put their teamwork skills to the test while speaking in French. A giant ski race encouraged the children to work together, where up to five youngsters shared huge wooden skis in a cross country competition. Lastly, to offer the students a break from the cold, near the doors was a game of French Jeopardy, as well as a French crepe station where Nutella filled treats were exchanged for singing en Francais.
“It’s really important for our students to have an attachment to the culture, to develop their cultural identity. It’s more than just a language. And it’s very important for us that Isabella Dicken participate with us so that we can be part of the francophone community, and not feel it’s just within our little school walls that we speak French, but that they get to share it with other francophones their age in the community,” said Sophie-Morigeau principal, Josée Renaud.
Excitingly enough, the events did not stop there. Throughout the entire week, students from Sophie-Morigeau partook in a variety of other activities such as giving presentations on French artists, and learning about the many French speaking countries around the world.
The students also had the opportunity to win medals for various role play activities in French, and even listened to kindergarten children tell ‘la blague du jour’ each morning, otherwise known as the joke of the day.
Interspersed between those activities were poutine contests, snowshoe and skiing field trips, a francophone film fest, and other captivating activities that encouraged the students to revel in their immersion in French culture.