UMA Employee Wellness Program
Events & Happenings
Calendar & Resources
Wellness Tips & Resources
Employee Assistance Program
Capital Area Economic Development Union
CAP-EDU March 9th Meeting Notes
University Advancement
Alumni
Alumni Newsletter
Alumni Upcoming Meetings & Events
Alumni Association Board
Join the Alumni Association
Alumni Contact Info Update Form
Advancement Project Proposal
YoUMA
Senior College
Senior College Exchange Programs
Senior College Fees
Senior College Network
Senior College Financial Assistance
Senior College Possible Future Courses
Senior College Information
Senior College Instructors
Senior College Vision
Forum on the Future
Forum on the Cooperative Economy
Forum on the Future: Capitalizing on the Creative Economy - April 2
The Future of Health Care in the US - Sept. 23
Forum on the Future: Questions about Health Care?…Best Available Answers
Forum on the Future: Agriculture in Maine
Forum on the Future with Paul Kando - March 4th
Forum: Better Health Care At Lower Cost -Oct. 21
Forum on Education Reform September 15
Six Feet Under: Funeral Choices
Senior College Board of Directors
Senior College By-Laws
Senior College Course Offerings
Senior College Events
Research and Pedagogy Series
Community Partnerships
Partners in the Parks
Storm Water Protection in Maine
Women, Work and Community
UMA Board of Visitors
Employment Opportunities
Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine
EPSCOR Turkey Research Project
Project Home
Peter Milligan
Turkey Project Gallery
Joseph Szakas
Chris Lage
Kate Turcotte
French At UMA
AATF Maine Conference
Calendar of Events
French at UMA News
French Club
French Conversation Table
Cultural Events
French Minor
Frequently Asked Questions
Fun in French for Kids
French Language Materials - Lithgow Library
Fun in French for Kids - Registration Form
Related Links
Study/Teach Abroad
Subscribe to French @ UMA
French@UMA Unsubscriber
Maine French Heritage Language Program
French Courses
Women, Work and Community
The Campus Green
Climate Action Plan
PCES Members
UMA's Greenhouse Gas Inventory
President's Council for Environmental Sustainability
Reduce Fossil Fuel Consumption
Maine Women's Hall of Fame
Honorees - Chronological List
Sharon H. Abrams
Mary R. Cathcart
Patricia M. Collins
Sharon Barker
U.S. Senator Susan Collins
Lyn Mikel Brown
Elizabeth Crandall
Linda Smith Dyer
Laura Fortman
Mary Farrar
Ethel Wilson Gammon
Caroline Gentile
Dorothy Murphy Healy
Karen Heck
Nancy H. Hensel
Judith Magyar Isaacson
Theodora June Kalikow
Chilton R. Knudsen
Laurie Gagnon Lachance
Gail H. Laughlin
Dale McCormick
Ruth L. Lockhart
Elizabeth Mitchell
Gilda E. Nardone
Judy Ayotte Paradis
Chellie Pingree
Katherine Ogilvie Musgrave
Lois Galgay Reckitt
Ninetta May Runnals
Elizabeth S. Russell
Patricia E. Ryan
Joan Benoit Samuelson
Mildred Brown Schrumpf
Margaret Chase Smith
Senator Olympia J. Snowe
Marti Stevens
Thelma Swain
Eloise A. Vitelli
Mabel Sine Wadsworth
Florence Brooks Whitehouse
Esther Elizabeth Wood
BPW Hall of Fame
Patricia Carol Patti Bourgoin
Jeanne Littlefield Hammond
Arline Rebecca Andrews Lovejoy

The Franco-American blog

News and notes from Maine’s French culture

Two Documentary Films Chronicle Franco-American Culture and Language

Monday November 18, 2013 | 10:38 AM

Posted by Juliana L'Heureux

French Language Preservation: Quand j’ai compris la réalité franco-américaine dans le Maine, j’ai compris le Maine” (Chelsea Ray).

French is spoken by a minority of people who live in Maine and New England. Although it's a minority language, thousands of Franco-Americans grew up speaking French before learning English. Bi-lingual French and English classes were once taught in Maine’s parochial Roman Catholic elementary schools. Religious celebrations were conducted in French in Maine’s Franco-American churches. Thousands of Franco-Americans continue to pray in French. Those Franco-Americans who had difficulty learning English experienced language discrimination.

Particularly, for these Francophones, language is important to their Franco-American history, heritage, religion and culture. Understanding French spoken in their homes and communities are part of their cultural identities. 

But, does cultural preservation include protecting a minority language?

This question was asked after viewing the documentary film “Intimates Francophones” at a November 14th program at the University of Maine Augusta. In the film, native French speakers from Maine and Louisiana contributed to a dialogue with other Francophones who live in places where French is a minority language. Interviews included Francophones from Acadia (Nova Scotia), Ontario, and New Brunswick in Canada, as well as native Creole speakers in Haiti, who learn to speak French as a second language. Maine’s French Heritage Language Program (MFHLP) is featured in the film (http://www.uma.edu/mfhlp.html).

Intimates Francophones” is a 2012, documentary in French with English subtitles. In the film, native speakers discussed  the challenges faced by Francophones who live in the Americas, including Haiti. This film was made with the cooperation of the Québec based Center of Francophonie of  the Americas (Council for the Development of French in Louisiana  or CODOFIL) with the Louisiana Office of Francophone Affairs.

Réveil-Waking Up French”, is another documentary and describes the relationship between loss of langauge and cultural preservation.

Réveil” is produced by Ben Levine, a documentary film maker. “Réveil” traces the French heritage beginning with immigrations from Quebec and Acadia (Nova Scotia) to New England. Excellent documentation provides video of the persecution of Maine’s Franco-Americans by the Ku Klux Klan. In spite of language discrimination, Franco-Americans interviewed in the film describe how they’re supporting their cultural diversity through heritage language (French like it was learned at home) and French reacquisition.

Both films document the benefits and challenges of supporting bilingualism.

 “Intimates Francophones” describes Louisiana, where French is supported as a minority language. In fact, the state built a tourism and recreation economy around the French Acadian culture, cuisine and language. This culture was brought to Louisiana over 250 years ago by Acadian refugees who experienced, in 1755, Le Grand Derangement (The Great Displacement). This colonial era tragedy occurred when British soldiers forcibly removed Acadians from their homes in Nova Scotia, confiscated their properties and separated their families. Acadians who eventually found their way to Louisiana assimilated with other immigrants already living in the territory and, together, they developed a Cajun culture. In Louisiana, bilingualism has been good for the state’s ability to attract international tourism. 

Similarly, Maine’s economy should benefit from promoting bilingualism, because the state is bordered by Quebec and New Brunswick, Canada where French is spoken as a primary language by millions of people.

Challenges faced by those protecting French as it was spoken “chez nous” (at home) included interviews in the film with Francophones who experienced discrimination when they learned English as a second language.

In Maine, “Intimités Francophones” interviewed Yvon Labbé from the University of Maine’s Franco-American Studies program in Orono, and Chelsea Ray at the University of Maine Augusta (UMA) and coordinator of the MFHLP. Don White, past President of Le Club Calumet in Augusta, also spoke about discrimination against Franco-Americans and the importance of taking pride in one’s cultural identity.

Franco-Americans who learned to speak French at home were not taught to take pride in their bilingualism, said Ray.

Labbé described how Franco-American students at the University of Maine in Orono developed cultural awareness after coming together as a group. Often, Franco-American students had little understanding about their heritage until they met colleagues through the Franco-American studies program who shared their cultural experiences.

Understanding the Franco-American culture is important for anyone who is learning about Maine, says Ray, who once lived in California. “Quand j’ai compris la réalité franco-américaine dans le Maine, j’ai compris le Maine”, she says. (“Once I understood the importance of Franco-American culture in Maine, I understood Maine.”)

Both “Intimités Francophones” and “Réveil” interview people who share personal experiences about connecting their French language with cultural pride.

“Intimités Francophones” information website: http://www.projetose.com/#!__magasin

"Reveil: Waking Up French" information is at the website www.wakingupfrench.com