(Photo: Canadian Parents for French)
A new musical tour kicks off next week that aims to help promote Canada's two official languages and give young Canadians a better sense of their culture. And it's attempting to reach 46,000 students in 120 schools over the next three months.
"O Canada!" is an interactive bilingual show developed by a pair of organizations dedicated to promoting and supporting French as a second language in schools: Canadian Parents for French and Canadian Youth For French. In addition to reinforcing language learning, the goal of the show is to "help young Canadians get a better sense of our Canadian heritage, and to take a bit of ownership over that and understand the civic responsibility that comes with it," Canadian Parents for French BC & Yukon executive director Glyn Lewis told Strombo.com.
Lewis describes the show as "packing in our glorious 150-year story into 45 minutes." It starts off with scenes from Confederation before moving on to the building of Canada's railways with a focus on the contributions of Chinese Canadians. It also addresses the story of women's suffrage in Canada, and talks about the different struggles of some of Canada's First Nations. At about the half-hour mark, there's even a game show to quiz the students — in French — on what they've learned so far.
"If you're a new Canadian and you don't have a grandparent who fought in the Second World War, you might have missed that piece of Canadian history, and you might not have a sense of connection to it," Lewis said. "There's something really important with connecting young Canadians with those stories." Two teams of Francophone youths — one from Alberta and one from Quebec — will embark on a pair of school tours next week.
Here's the show's first song, "Je N'oublirais Pas":
Lewis admits that getting middle and high school students excited about their heritage can be a tough sell.
"We didn't want to be speaking down to kids, and we didn't want to be professorial about it," he said. That's why the performers who'll be travelling to the schools, aged 18–20, are barely older than the students themselves. The Western Canadian tour will be led by Paul Cournoyer, a singer and upright electric bass player, and Léandre Bérubé, an electro and dubstep producer, while the Ontario tour will feature Renée-Claude Thériault, a stand-up comedian, and Justine Lewis, a singer, dancer and actor. Here's a look at the four performers preparing for the tour:
The O Canada! tour will stop off at schools in British Columbia, Yukon, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, starting on Monday. Head over to the website of the Canadian Parents for French for more information.