St-Jean-Baptiste day celebrations part of Yellowknife’s history

Courtesy of AFCY.
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The Association Franco-Culturelle de Yellowknife (AFCY) is holding St-Jean-Baptiste day celebrations this Sunday at the beer garden at the Folk on the Rocks site.

The event will feature live music by local bands, human foosball, a barbecue, pony rides and a circus performance.

Event coordinator Jessica Payeur said this event is also important to her as a francophone.

“St-Jean-Baptiste is an event that had been created to promote all the fight of the francophones to keep their culture and language many many years ago,” says Payeur.

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French is a linguistic minority in the Northwest Territories and is the mother tongue of about three per cent of the population.

Payeur says this event is important to do in Yellowknife because French is one of the 11 official languages in the territory.

“And there’s a whole history of Francophones in Yellowknife,” she says.

In fact, the first European to reach Great Slave Lake was a francophone, Laurent Leroux, who founded trading posts in Fort Resolution and Fort Providence in the late 1700s.

“There’s a long story of Francophones around Yellowknife, so I think it’s really important to celebrate that birthday kind of,” Payeur says.

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Payeur says she thinks it’s important to share this part of history with the community.

“We celebrate St-Jean-Baptiste more in the east coast, in Quebec and also Ontario. We’ve been celebrating it for a long time and in France, it was also celebrated way before we started doing it in Canada,” says Payeur.

“The difference I think in the North, from some other parts, is that it’s much more multi-cultural,” she says.

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