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Alberta's Francophone Heritage
Background, People, Culture, Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource and Alberta Lottery Fund

 

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French settlers Alec Loiselle and family in front of their house at Sylvan Lake, Alberta, 1904. Remarks L-R back row: Mrs. Loiselle, Mr. Louis Loiselle, and his father Mr. Alec Loiselle. L-R front row: Louis Loiselle; Arthur Loiselle; Laurie Loiselle, Della Loiselle (Mrs. Harsfeldt) holding Alec Loiselle. By the end of the 19th century, Francophones in the West were being assimilated into the larger society as their language rights were lost.  But this only made them more determined to preserve their arts, culture, language, religion and world views. The evidence of their success is present in Francophone communities not only in larger centres, such as Edmonton and Calgary, but also in central and northern Alberta.

Aspects of the culture of Alberta such as fiddle music and square dancing are a part of the rich cultural traditions of French voyageurs, traders and settlers. As well, they impacted on the landscapes and buildings of their communities through the churches, businesses, schools and other activities that they embarked on. It was not a static community. They came from French regions of Canada but also directly from France and former French colonies in Africa. Most recently, there has been an influx of French-speaking Rwandans driven out by the genocide in 1994.

Language and, in many cases, religion are central to the identity of Francophone Albertans but, today, as official language communities, they are conscious of the need to preserve and share their culture and way of life.

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