A chance meeting at Festival du Voyageur nine years ago brought Valerie Bohemier and Mario Poulin together.

Poulin was playing with his band at the Winnipeg festival in 2007 when he met Bohemier at an afterparty. Mutual friends introduced them and soon after, they became a couple.

Fast forward to 2016, and the couple are married with two young children.

While their lives have changed, their love for Festival has not.

Festival couple 2

Ottawa couple Valerie Bohemier and Mario Poulin say Festival du Voyageur has become even more special now that they have two children. (CBC)

Bohemier, who has family in Lorette, Man., and Poulin, who is from Saskatchewan, have returned almost every year to experience the celebration of Franco-Manitoban culture in St. Boniface. 

"We don't even come for Christmas. We come for Festival," said Bohemier.

Both Bohemier and Poulin are French Canadian and the festival helps them celebrate their heritage, they said.

"It's something that's special for us," said Poulin. "The values and the culture, everything's kind of mixed together."

Festival couple 3

Valerie Bohemier and Mario Poulin say visiting Winnipeg during Festival du Voyageur is more important than being home for Christmas.

Since the couple had children, Festival's role has become even more important, Poulin said.

"It's more special now, with the kids to share this," he said.

There are not many opportunities like Festival to experience and celebrate French Canadian culture, he said.

Wedding photos taken at Fort Gibraltar hang in the couple's home in Ottawa to remind them of their roots and where they met.

"They're in our living room. We see them every day as a reminder of who we are, where we come from and where we want to come back every year," said Bohemier.