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Association Culturelle Franco-Canadienne

The French constituted less than 6% of settlers in 1905 despite the diligence of the clergy and the government. French settlers were located in the four corners of the newly created province because of the diocesan structure and the dynamism of key missionaries. These factors led a few clerics, concerned about the survival of the faith, language and culture of members of their flock, to argue that a strong provincial association would protect the religious and linguistic rights of their parishioners. When the Société du Parler Français du Canada proposed the organization of a major convention in Quebec City for June 1912, Francophones of Saskatchewan were invited to select delegates. In February 1912, 450 regional representatives met in Duck Lake, created a provincial chapter of the society, selected fourteen delegates to attend the convention in Quebec, and elected an executive of prominent laymen and members of the clergy. The executive met in Regina that summer and created the Association Franco-Canadienne de la Saskatchewan . The provincial association was renamed Association Catholique Franco-Canadienne de la Saskatchewan in 1913 to promote the interests of French-speaking residents.

By 1914, the ACFC had more than 1,400 members paying annual dues of $1. Local chapters were spearheaded by the local curé, and at the provincial level several clerics sat on the executive committee. A parish priest, Abbé Baudoux of Vonda, even served as president of the ACFC. The ACFC focused most of its attention on Education. It helped to create the Association Interprovinciale, concentrating on recruiting bilingual teachers from Quebec. It supported the creation of the Association des Commissaries d’Ecole Franco-Canadiens. It instituted in 1925 the concours de français, which resulted in the creation of a bilingual office of education parallel to that of the provincial ministry of education. The ACFC appointed visiteurs d’école, mostly clerics, to assist teachers and promote the expansion of bilingual education for the French-speaking students of Saskatchewan. The ACFC also supported activities which protected the Catholic and cultural interests of the French minority. It endorsed French radio stations across the Prairies, lobbied extensively to obtain French television services, and played a vital role in the survival of such Newspapers in Saskatchewan as Le Patriote de l’Ouest and its successor L’Eau Vive.

ACFC’s success can be attributed to the widespread support of the clergy and the dedication of certain laymen such as Raymond Denis (president for ten years), Dr. Laurent Roy, Irène Chabot, Rolland Pinsonneault, Dumont Lepage, Albert Dubé, and others who all served as president. Their work was often facilitated by such men as Antonio de Margerie, who served as secretary of the association from 1929 to 1962. L’Association Catholique Franco-Canadienne became L’Association Culturelle Franco-Canadienne in 1962, more closely reflecting the evolution in the mandate of the ACFC to support the socio-cultural interests of the French community. By 1998, the ACFC was reorganized and renamed L’Association Communautaire Fransaskoise in an attempt to reach the grassroots more readily and be more accountable to its supporters and the government.

André Lalonde

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Further Reading

Lapointe, R. and L. Tessier. 1986. Histoire des Franco-Canadiens de la Saskatchewan. Regina: Société historique de la Saskatchewan.
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