Celebrate winter and Prince George’s French culture at FrancoFUN

What does it mean to be a Franco-British Columbian who loves winter?

Find out at FrancoFUN, an eight-day festival in Prince George that celebrates British Columbia’s French culture.

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“We invite everyone to discover our vibrant community,” says Renée Trépanier, the executive director of Le Cercle des Canadiens Français de Prince George, which has been hosting the festival since 1985.

This year’s FrancoFUN is from January 31 to February 8. It will include performances from musicians such as Alpha Yaya Diallo and Bon Debarras which means Good Riddance (January 31), art and artisan displays at Le Cercle’s main centre on Fir Street (opening February 2), an art exhibition at the airport, seniors’ luncheon (February 5), interactive school shows and, of course, an opportunity to enjoy that quintessential taste of spring — maple syrup — on February 8.

Many people are surprised to discover there is such a diverse French-speaking population in northern British Columbia. Many moved here from other parts of Canada, not just Québec, to be part of the province’s logging operations.

In fact, 60 years ago this May, new arrivals from Alberta and Saskatchewan founded the association.

Trépanier understands why it is so essential to have a place where French-speaking residents can gather. “When I left Québec,” she says, “my father told me ‘Never forget your roots or your language.’ To me, that’s what it’s all about. It’s too easy to lose a culture or language.”

Recently, the Prince George association was chosen to participate in a three-year project to help immigrants from French-speaking countries feel at home in British Columbia. Since more people from Africa are moving here, the association thought it was timely to invite Alpha Yaya Diallo, a well-known West African performer based in Vancouver, to give people more global perspective. Five dancers from Africa will also take part. Students who miss Bon Debarras — the band invites you to get rid of the burdens of life through music and dance — will get a chance to see them perform at local schools on February 3 and 4.

More than 5,000 people are expected to attend the festival, which begins with a joint concert with the ColdSnap Music Festival.

To find out how you can join the Franco-fun Winter Festival, as well benefit from other French services, visit Le Cercle des Canadiens Français de Prince George’s Facebook page

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