Kuujjuaq students take top honours in francophone video contest
“It was a lot of fun"
From the warm tropical breezes of the Caribbean islands to the snow-covered tundra of Nunavik, French-speakers inhabit many parts of the world.
Students at Kuujjuaq’s Jaanimmarik school brought those worlds a little closer together when they recently won top honours in the Anime ta francophonie (Animate your francophonie) contest, hosted by the Centre de la francophonie des Amériques, which represents French-speaking nations in the Americas.
The focus of the 2013 contest was to create a video presenting another French-speaking community, said Jaanimmarik French teacher Manuel Lefebvre.
“I think it’s important to understand that Quebec isn’t the only place where we speak French — there are many others,” Lefebvre said.
In fact, there are 33 million French-speakers who live in areas located between the Canadian Arctic and Brazil.
Jaanimmarik students did their research and decided on two communities: secondary four students focused on the Caribbean nation of Guadeloupe, while secondary five students looked at the U.S. state of Louisiana.
Students were assigned roles to present different parts of those regions’ history and culture.
“Once we did our research, we kind of just went with it,” said 16-year-old Anne Sequaluk. “It was a lot of fun.”
In Jaanimmarik’s video about Guadeloupe, students role-play a group of Guadeloupe youth who have recently immigrated to Canada. The video compares their culture to that of Nunavimmiut.
To help prepare the video on Guadeloupe, Sequaluk learned some phrases in Creole — a dialect of French spoken in many francophone Caribbean countries — and used her circus skills to juggle oranges.
In the video about Lousiana’s francophone community, 17-year-old Piari Gentes learned about the Acadian diaspora, when in the 18th century the British expelled Acadians from former French colonies in what is now Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Many of those Acadians later settled in Louisiana, forming the basis of the region’s Cajun community.
Gentes plays the role of Cajun singer-songwriter Zachary Richard, who is a popular symbol of Louisiana’s francophone community.
“We learned a lot of things,” Gentes said. “We didn’t know much about people like Richard, but we got to know him through the project.”
“I think our video was well-prepared,” he said. “I think the judges saw that a lot of kids in our class are learning French.”
The Centre de la francophone des Amériques announced the contest winners Jan. 31, with Jaanimmarik students among two Quebec schools and five across Canada to take top place.
That was no surprise to Lefebvre, who led the projects.
“Our entries were very real, talking about students leaving their country to come to Kuujjuaq,” he said. “It really touched on the reality of students from here who leave Kuujjuaq to study in Montreal.”
Jaanimmarik’s secondary 4 and 5 French classes will receive a bursary of $3,000 for their efforts, money that must be spent on classroom materials. The group hasn’t decided how to spend their prize yet.