Manchester Franco-American Centre gets long-term funding from Quebec

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By TRAVIS R. MORIN

From left, Maurice Demers, past president of Franco-American Centre Board of Trustees; Raymond Houle, board member of Franco-American Centre; Pauline Houle, board member of Franco-American Centre; James Normand, president, Franco-American Centre Board of Trustees; Mary-Claude Francoeur, delegate, Quebec Government; and Joseph Theriault, vice president of Franco-American Centre Board of Trustees during the signing of the multi-year funding agreement. (Franco-American Centre)

 

GOFFSTOWN — For the first time in its 28-year history, the Franco-American Centre has secured long-term funding from the Quebec government in order to support the FAC’s ongoing efforts to promote French Canadian language, history and culture in the Granite State.

In a joint media event conducted by the FAC and representatives from Quebec, FAC Executive Director John Tousignant announced the organization would receive a total of $7,500 from the Quebec government spread out over 2019, 2020, and 2021.

While the FAC has previously received funding on an intermittent basis from Quebec, Tousignant said this is the first time the Canadian province has offered the organization a promise of multi-year support.

“I think this conveys the Quebec government’s sense that the Franco-American Centre is an ongoing entity and that it makes sense to get into a multi-year agreement,” said Tousignant. 

This past June, the Quebec government was a major sponsor of the FAC’s third annual Poutine Fest, a celebration of the iconic Quebecois delicacy of French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. 

Going forward, Tousignant said the organization plans to use the newly awarded funds to help fund a series of cultural outreach events. 

“We’re going to put it toward a couple of activities,” said Tousignant. “For example, March is International French Month, so we’ll definitely be holding some events highlighting the influence of Quebec culture. We will also join with Quebec to celebrate their national holiday on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day on June 24th.” 

Mary-Claude Francoeur, Quebec’s delegate for New England who was present at the announcement, said her government hopes the funding will help support the FAC’s ability to stage events that highlight French Canadian culture.

“As the years go by, we’re seeing more and more public interest in groups like the Franco-American Centre. So, we got to the point where we said, ‘let us give you some seed money so you know how much you’re going to have and you don’t have to wonder if you can afford to put your event on,’” said Francoeur.

Pointing to the 1/3 of Granite Staters with French Canadian heritage, Francoeur remarked that NH holds a unique place in the larger Franco-American narrative.

“We share a history,” said Francoeur of Quebec and New Hampshire. “There’s a million French Canadians that left the province at the turn of the last century to come to New England. So, there’s anywhere between 30-35 percent of the population with French Canadian heritage. You don’t find that anywhere else in the world.”

Francoeur added that the decision was also the result of the FAC’s involvement in the “Franco Route,” an
initia from the 2014 Acadian World Congress that aims to promote tourism by establishing an informal network of Francophile towns and cities stretching from Canada’s eastern maritime provinces down to Louisiana. 

In New Hampshire, Berlin, Manchester, Nashua, Rochester
and Somersworth have all signed on to be part of the route.

“We’re working with you consistently on this new network of cities, and we want to make sure that we can help you promote it,” said Francoeur.