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2013-09-25 at 15:09

Hundreds attend City Hall to celebrate Franco-Ontarian Day

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
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Green and white were on display on the steps of city hall Wednesday morning.

Hundreds packed McGillivray Square with painted faces, flags in hand and raised voices as they celebrated Franco-Ontarian Day. Since 2010 every Sept. 25 is a chance for Francophones across the province to get together, raise a flag and celebrate their heritage.

Association Francophone du Nord-Ouest de l'Ontario vice-chair Claudette Gleeson said around 3.5 per cent of people in Thunder Bay identify as francophone.

Throughout the region there are 14 municipalities represented by her organization. Driving through Northwestern Ontario people can see the history of francophone culture, which is around 400 years old in the province, on street signs and town names.

"You know that we've been here a long time," she said.

Many of the faces in the crowd were students from Ecole catholique Franco-Superieur or Ecole Secondaire de La Verendrye, who got a break from school just for the event.

"They're going to remember this for the rest of their lives," Gleeson said.
One of those students, grade 12's Angela Iuvancigh got to make a speech in front of her peers. She said it was moving to see so many painted and cheering faces in the crowd.

"It was incredible," she said. "It makes you really proud to be a francophone, it really does."
Mayor Keith Hobbs said he only remembers one other celebration at city hall being so loud and that was last year's Franco-Ontarian Day when they raised the flag. He said it was awesome to see so many kids get to be a part of the event.

"It's important that we recognize that part of our community," he said of francophones. "They're a big part of it."

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