FRANCOPHONES OF ONTARIO
The Festival Franco-Ontarien is a major event for Francophones and Francophiles in Ontario, Canada. This festival, which offers concerts and entertainment for all, was created on May 23, 1976 by Pierre DeBlois (president of the ACFO of Ottawa-Carleton at the time). Its primary mission is to celebrate French cultural pride, and more specifically the Franco-Ontarian community. It is also a time for English-speaking people to discover more about French culture around the world (music, cuisine, etc.).
Since the first edition of the FRANCO, the audience has had the opportunity to appreciate many Franco-Ontarian artists from all regions of the world. In the 1990s, the Festival carved out a place for itself in the artistic landscape of French Ontario and quickly became a must-see event and a source of pride for the entire Francophonie. In 2001, the City of Ottawa was chosen to host the IV Games of La Francophonie. The Festival Franco-Ontarien took advantage of this opportunity to set up the Super Franco-fête. The years 2002 to 2004 allowed the organization to consolidate its activities. However, 2005 proved to be a more difficult year, although the 30th anniversary was a great success in terms of programming, and the organization had to renew itself.
In 2006, the Festival Franco-Ontarien was revamped and a new non-profit organization was created under the name “Festival franco-ontarien (2006) Inc. and the management of the FRANCO was entrusted to a firm specialized in event management, Groupe Simoncic. The popularity and success of the 2006 edition of the Festival made it possible to hold the 32nd edition. The Festival not only attracted nearly 25,000 visitors looking for creative novelties, but also the attention of several media. The 2007 and 2008 editions of the Festival Franco-Ontarien were a complete success and the number of festival-goers is increasing. The organizers, always anxious to develop new ideas in terms of programming and related activities, produced a major first, the Grand défilé franco-ontarien in the streets of Ottawa.
The 2009 edition shows that the Festival Franco-Ontarien has become one of the most important events bringing together the vital forces of the Ontario and Canadian Francophonie with 45,000 participants and 60,000 other participants, observers, visitors and tourists, including 25,000 during the Grand Parade and 35,000 during the Byward Market activities.
In 2012, the Festival moved back to Major’s Hill Park, near the Parliament of Ottawa, on the majestic grounds of the National Capital Commission. In addition to a sought-after artistic program, an important place is given to alliances with Franco-Ontarian organizations and educational institutions. The Matinée scolaire now welcomes thousands of students, a Fair space is created, and in 2013 a new tradition is established by extending the programming all day on Saturday, thanks to the Pique-nique Franco-Africain, which becomes in 2015 the Grand pique-nique de la Francophonie. The Festival Franco-Ontarien distinguishes itself from others by offering Franco-Ontarian artists an important platform, and by offering festival-goers a rich and varied program for all ages, including Canadian, European and African artists.
The year 2015 is an opportunity to celebrate not only the 40th anniversary of the Festival, but also the 40th anniversary of the Franco-Ontarian flag, and the 400 years of Francophone pride in Ontario following the arrival of Champlain in 1615. So many opportunities to celebrate!
In 2020, the Festival Franco-Ontarien was the only festival to offer a live program while respecting the strict sanitary measures imposed by public health authorities. This 45th edition was a great success thanks to the collaboration of the public, volunteers, employees and artists. Quite an achievement!
In 2023, after three editions hold in September, the Festival Franco-Ontarien returns to rock the nation’s capital in June, from the 16th to the 18th, and opens the festival season at Major’s Hill Park with a variety of concerts. Gregory Charles and guests, Lisa Leblanc and Zachary Richard are among the headliners of this 48th edition.
In 2010, as part of the 35th anniversary of the Festival Franco-Ontarien, the organization decided to recognize the pioneers of the Festival by introducing a recognition program called the Lifetime Passes program. Here are the recipients of the Lifetime Passes.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Mme Kim Watson, President
M. Jason Dupuis, Vice-President
Mme Stéphanie Lavergne, Secretary
M. Yann Baillargeon, Treasurer
Mme Mélanie Routhier Boudreau
M. Justin Thibault
Mme Josée Surprenant
Mme Noémie Doucet