Art and language come together to help Francophone newcomers feel at home

·2 min read

The Centre de santé communautaire du Grand Sudbury is hosting a webinar today (March 24) that features Marie-Pierre Proulx, the artistic director of Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario (TNO) and is aimed at helping newcomers learn more about the Francophone arts scene in Sudbury.

Proulx said the event is a chance for francophone newcomers to express their own cultural identity through art and learn the culture of their new home through the same methods.

“The North is embedded in the Franco-Ontarian and Franco-Sudburian identity,” said Proulx. “What better way to learn that than by listening to the words of the poets that are from here.”

This talk is part of a series of interviews entitled ‘À la découverte de la vie culturelle de Sudbury’ (Discovering Sudbury's Cultural Life), moderated by Priscillia Mbemba, cultural liaison at the health centre.

Mbemba created the series as part of the Projet de Communauté francophone accueillante (Welcoming Francophone Community Project).

The upcoming webinar is titled ‘La vie culturelle et les nouveaux arrivants sudburois : causerie avec Marie-Pierre Proulx du TNO’ and it is an online event March 24. You can find more information here.

Proulx told she hopes that with her presentation newcomers will not only feel welcome to participate in the Francophone artistic community of Sudbury, but that they will feel free to contribute, to enrich the current offerings with stories and cultures from around the world.

“I think arts and culture is a way for us to understand newcomers better, to understand and support the diversity that they bring with them, and also to give them the tools to integrate into the community.”

It can be hard enough to ‘make friends’ as an adult. Imagine doing so in a country that you’ve only just arrived in.

“The arts can offer this link between newcomers and the community,” said Proulx, “with shows and books and music, we can better understand each other’s needs and to make sure that newcomers feel this is a welcome place, a place where they can settle and make a life.”

The goal is to meet with Sudbury's artistic and cultural organizations to discuss their activities and the programs and opportunities they can share with French-speaking newcomers. This series also aims to raise awareness of organizations and introduce ways to include Francophone newcomers in their programming and activities.

“It’s about building relationships,” says Proulx, “as well as building your skills, your creativity and your network. The way people develop when they are given the chance to express themselves through art. There is a strong Francophone community here, and it is one that is getting more diverse. We want them to feel welcome, we want them to understand our culture, but also to know that there is also space for their cultural identities.”

Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,