French Canadian centre opens today


The brand spanking new French Canadian Cultural Centre is tres magnifique according to organizers who  have been working on the project for years and look forward to giving a permanent home to all of the French language and cultural organizations in the city.
“It’s a service that we offer to the Albertan community,” said Kate Gilbert, ACFA Régionale de Lethbridge/ Medicine Hat  Directrice générale.
 The new two floor facility, located at 2104 6 Avenue South, next to École La Verendrye, which officially opens March 11, offers a huge new theatre with hardwood floors, a full service bar, a library, massive kitchen, computer room a darkroom for film developing, a cafeteria and a lot more.

Kate Gilbert ACFA Régionale de Lethbridge/ Medicine Hat  Directrice générale in the new centre opening today. Photo by Richard Amery
“We’re here to preserve our language. But you don’t need to speak French here,” Gilbert continued adding  movie features will be subtitled. They will also be offering a variety of classes in  the French language, photography, pottery and a lot more.

They will also celebrate holidays and events like Valentines Day and more French holidays like Saint- Jean-Baptiste Day. And a connection with Chinook Libraries will help fill their shelves with French books.

 While the organization has been in Lethbridge since 1979  on Sixth Street. downtown across from the Lethbridge Herald, they have never had a space like this for their 200 members.

“Not a lot of people knew we were over there. But this location  gives us more visibility, right on the corner,” Gilbert enthused.

“There’s a lot more people (who speak French in Lethbridge) There’s at least 2,000 people. There’s The French Club at the University of Lethbridge and CInéMagine,” she continued, listing just a few French themed organizations, adding she is looking forward to bringing all of these different groups together under one roof.

“We won’t have to rent space anymore, because everything is here,” she said.
“We will be able to have events right here and they will always be associated with art and culture.
The opening day, March 11 will feature a variety of events beginning at 7 p.m., with the most important  being the raising of the Franco-Alberta flag. there will also be speeches from dignitaries, drinks and snacks.

CIneMAGINE will be screening their first movie at the centre, March 17, the 2009 film “Oscar et la dame rose/ Oscar and the Lady In Pink.
“The new French Cultural Centre will finally be a gathering place where all the various organizations in the French Community will have many beautiful opportunities to collaborate,” said  We will be able to grow, to innovate, to work in synergy and to tighten the bonds between the many contributors to the French Community.  We hope that the renewed synergy will have a positive impact in order to show the cultural wealth of the Francophone Community in Southern Alberta,” wrote Hélène Bourgeois Directrice cInéMAGINE in  an e-mail/
“The new French Cultural Centre will be the new home for the Cine-club cIneMAGINE and a training place for cinematographic workshops for cIneMAGINE jeunesse,” she continued.

“We want to thank all the volunteers that have contributed to make this dream a reality.  The big day is now here and we wish prosperity to the Francophone Community and welcome to all Francophiles. ”

The ceremony to commemorate this historic moment will start at 4 p.m. The raising of the Franco-Albertan flag, the unveiling of a commemorative plaque, speeches by  dignitaries, entertainment and a guided tour of the centre will take place.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

A version of this story appears in the March 9 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times

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