Chatham-Kent is celebrating Franco-Ontarian Flag Day. Sept 25, 2019. (Photo by Paul Pedro)

‘Je suis Francophone’ and proud of it

Chatham-Kent is celebrating Franco-Ontarian Flag Day.

The flag was raised Wednesday morning to celebrate and preserve French heritage in the area. Roughly 300 students and staff from five French schools in Chatham, Tilbury, and Pain Court attended the festivities at the John Bradley Centre where Mayor Darrin Canniff and Police Chief Gary Conn spoke.

Students Blackburn News spoke with feel being bilingual is an advantage in the future. Andrew Pennant, a student at Ecole secondaire catholique de Pain Court, said he didn’t like it at first but has grown to love all the advantages of speaking French.

“Personally, I say that it’s an advantage and for those who don’t have it, it’s not too late to go grab it,” said the Grade 11 student.

Koby Mallett-Morry, a student at Ecole secondaire catholique de Pain Court, credits his mother for speaking French.

“When I was younger I wanted to follow in my mom’s footsteps and become a teacher just like her. So, I decided to go to Ecole Ste. Marie and followed on with my dreams and I’m still going on with this French language. It’s amazing to me,” he said.

Pennant said he will speak French until the day he dies.

“My mom put me in French school and at first I wasn’t a big fan of it until I discovered all the advantages that come along with it and now that I have it I don’t want to let it go,” Pennant said.

The mayor said the Franco-Ontarian flag will fly at the CK Civic Centre all week. Mayor Canniff, who is part French, said there are more than 3,000 Francophones in Chatham-Kent.

Franco-Ontarians have made significant contributions to sports, music, politics, and other segments of Canadian life.