'I hope it will spark conversations': Quebec historian's new booklet focuses on Sudbury's French community

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Serge Dupuis, originally from Sudbury and now a professor at the University of Laval in Quebec, has penned a history of the francophone community in the northern Ontario city. (Supplied by Serge Dupuis. - image credit)
Serge Dupuis, originally from Sudbury and now a professor at the University of Laval in Quebec, has penned a history of the francophone community in the northern Ontario city. (Supplied by Serge Dupuis. - image credit)

A new publication highlighting the history of francophones in the Sudbury area is set for release today — St-Jean-Baptiste Day.

The 60-page booklet, Sudbury's Francophones: A Brief History, was written and researched by Serge Dupuis, a professor at Laval University in Quebec who is originally from the northern Ontario city.

Published by L'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario du grand Sudbury (ACFO), Dupuis's research is being released in both English and French in hopes of promoting a better understanding of French culture.

"I hope it will spark conversations, and that it will help teachers and students, and the public and political officials to be more aware of that history," Dupuis said.

The idea, Dupuis said, is to help show a "trajectory of history" for the community since it settled in the Sudbury area as far back as the 1880s.

"I hope it might make politicians a little bit more receptive, maybe, understanding where francophones are coming from when they advocate for French-language services or separate institutions," he said.

Part of that history includes the struggle for francophones to establish their own schools and cultural institutions, sometimes flying in the face of provincial regulations.

"[The struggle] is not as visible as what we might have seen in Ottawa or eastern Ontario, but there still is this strong will to develop a full French-language educational regime," Dupuis said.

"It starts in the 19th century and it goes up to nowadays when we're talking about having a French language university in Sudbury.

"So that's 150 years of struggle in a certain way."

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