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The annual “Rendez-vous de la Francophonie”, coming to a city near you (#139)

This is an event I would encourage Anglophone Canadians, all across Canada, to consider marking on their calendar.  Le Rendez-vous de la francophonie (currently in its 17th year) is an event which brings “our” (all of ours, Francophones & Anglophones alike) unique Francophone culture to the forefront.

Events are held across Canada for a short period of time in a festival-of-sorts atmosphere.

I would classify this event more than just an arts & cultural event – but rather a distinct moment in the calendar year to simply reconnect, or even forge new connections with an aspect of our common heritage which makes Canada the place it is today (I’d say that’s a pretty good reason to mark “Le Rendez-vous” on your calendar and to set aside an hour or two to check it out) 🙂 .

There will be 1,800 pan-Canadian activities, which include various events and National Film Board film screenings (1,800 events… that’s quite an undertaking!). Whether you attend any of the events by yourself, with friends or with family – I guarantee you’ll go home with a feeling of being a bit better connected to what makes us Canadian

This is a completely inclusive event for all Canadians, and it recognizes that you don’t have to be Francophone to have a feeling of ownership and participation in Canada’s Francophone fabric.  So even if you don’t speak French, don’t be at all afraid to check this out. You will be more than welcome on equal footing along with everyone else (you’ll be surrounded by your own capatriots, after all).

The English version of the Rendez-vous’ website outlines events in your province and region.

The link is http:/rvf.ca/home.php.

Le Rendez-vous de la francophonie will run from March 6 to 22, 2015.

François Massicotte, a celebrity comedian, is one of the co-spokespersons of this years’ Rendez-vous and will be the subject of tomorrow’s post.

Bonnes festivités!


Antoine Bertrand (#121)

This is the latest post in the blog series “Qui êtes-vous?” .

You may recall that I did a post a few weeks ago titled “Québec’s Rough’n Toughs”In that post, I spoke about the story of Louis Cyr, Québec’s strong man from the beginning of the last century (at that time, labelled the strongest man in the world).

Antoine Bertrand is an actor in his late 30’s who has held various well-known roles over the years.  One such role was as the main actor in the 2013 movie L’Homme le plus fort au monde (The Strongest Man in the World).  It was a movie about Louis Cyr, played by Bertrand.

However, Bertrand’s other well-known roles date well before the movie.  Bertrand became known to the public at large in his acting role in Virginie, one of the higher rated evening sitcoms which aired in the early and mid-2000s.    He also acted in another well known TV series of the same period, Les Bourgons, c’est aussi ça la vie!, as well as Caméra Café, a co-host of the very popular variety show Les enfants de la télé, and he has held other comedic roles – regularly seen on some of our more common television events.

In the television program “Qui êtes-vous?”, Bertrand traces his English Stebbin family roots to New England, the challenges his family had, and how they arrived in Québec.  He travelled to England to discover his roots, back 12 generations.

Mariloup Wolfe – and Québec’s own scandal of sexual harassment against women (#119)o

This is my last night in Québec City.  Tomorrow I have to go back to Montréal for more meetings, and then back to Toronto.  A bit of advice… if you’re going to visit Québec City – do it in the two or three weeks running up to  Christmas.  It’s the low season for tourists, prices are cheaper – and you’ll have the whole place to yourself.  Places which are normally overran with tourists in the summer are completely deserted right now.  You just need a tuque and life is great.  The whole city is decked out for Christmas, carolers are walking around, there are Euro-style Christmas markets in the squares, and there’s no better way to get into the season.  Out of curiosity, I took a quick look at hotel rates, and most places are half (or even less than half) the rates which are charged during the summer season.

It’s starting to feel like Christmas


Enough of the Christmas stuff… let’s now get into this post.

The next episode of “Qui êtes-vous?” will air across Canada on Radio-Canada on Monday, December 22 at 9:00pm.  See if you can catch it.   It will feature Marilou Wolfe. 

Marilou Wolfe… boy… I’m not sure how far to go with this post — simply for the fact that I’m sure Marilou Wolfe simply wants to get on with life after experiencing a more-than-traumatic year (she probably needs breathing space, and I’m sure she’s not looking for more public attention than what she has already received).  Therefore I’m going to be very tactful and respectful considering everything that has happened to her.  Thus, I’ll offer a summary of what happened only in the most general of terms.

For the last couple of months, Canada has been gripped with women across the country coming out and telling their stories of past sexual harassment.  I don’t really need to go into that aspect of things, since everyone is aware of what is happening (it was triggered by the Ghomeshi affair, amplified by the parliamentary affair, and then women across the country have been coming out ever since with their own personal experiences).

However, many people in English Canada may not be aware that Québec started to go through these events a little sooner than the rest of Canada.  Québec had its own public celebrity scandal – and it gripped not only Montréwood, but the entire province.

Approximately 14 months ago, a very famous Québec comedian, Gab Roy, published a post on his personal blog describing very explicit sexual acts he wanted to perform on the celebrity actress, Mariloup Wolfe.  (In Anglophone Canada, imagine if one of the best known comedians randomly described to the world how he wanted to perform obscene sexual acts with one of our best known actresses… it would be a huge scandal and the outrage would be enormous).

And what resulted in Québec was huge – and what happened was awful.  I, like most other people, read Roy’s blog in complete and utter disbelief.    The public was taken aghast.  Actually, now that I think of it, the public outcry and anger in Québec was somewhat comparable to what we’re now seeing with the Ghomeshi affair.  In this respect, Anglophone Canada and Francophone Canada very much think in the same vein, and our values in these kinds of issues definately point in the same direction.  I’m not sure that many any other countries would have reacted in the same way that Canada as a whole has reacted – these things really struck a chord across the country and across our linguistic lines.   (As an aside, the Ghomeshi affair and suspension of Parliamentary MPs is also garnering just as much attention in Québec as they are in Anglophone Canada).

The Gab Roy / Mariloup Wolfe scandal came to a head about 9 months ago when Wolfe sued Roy for $300,000 for public defamation — money which Roy didn’t have.  He quit is career as a comedian, and basically dropped from the face of the earth (his last public appearance was on Tout le monde en parle, during which people were less than impressed with his public apology).  For readers in the US, personal lawsuits are not nearly as common in Canada as they are in the US, and thus they have a lot more punch here and they can be life-breakers, not just financially, but for careers, relationships, everything really.

The final chapter in the affair occurred just a couple of weeks ago, when Mariloup Wolfe abandoned her $300,000 lawsuit.  Gab Roy simply didn’t have the money, and the two settled out of court.   In the end, the point was made that society simply will not tolerate this kind of behaviour.  Over the past year Wolfe has played a major role in bringing attention to the issue of sexual harassment in Canada, and for this she can be credited with single handedly helping to change Canada’s views and awareness towards this issue.  That’s a huge weight for anyone to carry on their shoulders – and she did it with conviction and principled action.

Anyway, enough said about that (like I said, I’m sure she wants to get on with life, and would now like to be associated with what she used to be known for;  an impressive and respectable acting career).

Wolfe is a very successful and respected award-winning actress.  She has been in the public eye for about 15 years (she was born in 78, so she has been an actress for her entire adult life).   The shows and movies she has appeared in may not mean much to Anglophone audiences, but they are certainly well known to Francophone audiences – some of which are, or were the highest rated shows on television (La vie la vie, Caserne 24, Unité 9 and 30 vies).   She also appeared in movies of varying degrees of success (one of the most successful was C.R.A.Z.Y., but she has appeared in over 10 films in the past 15 years).

On the family-roots television program “Qui êtes-vous?”, Wolfe discovers her Acadian ancestry (she makes the trip to Acadia to discover her family’s links to the expulsion of Acadians), and she also travels to Germany to discover her German roots.  I likely won’t have a chance to catch the episode myself next Monday, but if you watch it, leave some comments and share your impressions of it.

Mariloup Wolfe’s official website can be viewed here:  http://www.mariloupwolfe.com/

Dominique Michel (#115)

Although I wasn’t born yet, I, like most people, know that Dominique Michel was one of the two main actresses in the 1966 to 1971 sitcom Moi et l’autre (the other actress was Denise Filiatreault, also a very famous personality).   The show was kind of the like the 1960’sThelma and Louise of Québec — and thus has gone down in pop-culture history.

Since then, Dominique Michel has never left the public eye.  She was one of the main figures on television when I was growing up, and I would often see her doing stand-up comedy, acting in movies, or staring in various sitcoms.    Like most actresses of this league, anyone with such a far reaching career by default becomes a regular figure on the talk-show circuits, award gala ceremonies, and interview programs.

She acted in the very famous movies Le Déclin de l’empire américain and Les invasions barbares, and I specifically remember her as one of the main actresses in the early 2000s television sitcom Catherine (however, she acted in many other famous sitcoms, as well as other famous movies, such as Un zoo la nuit). 

She garnered much attention when she appeared a number of years back on Tout le monde en parle, after having lost her hair due to treatment for colon cancer.  I think it took a lot of people aback because society was used to always having Michel in the background when growing up – she was just always there – and then all of a sudden her illness was apparent and real.   Fortunately she has recovered, and at 77 years old, she is appreciated by everyone as being one of the central “rocks” of modern Québec and Montréwood pop-culture.

In the recent genealogical show “Qui êtes-vous?” she traced her roots back to France, and found out that her ancestor discovered Wisconsin (now part of the USA), and a descendant of one of her family lines is now the president of Bombardier.

A couple of interesting online documentaries on Télé-Québec (#110)

You’ll recall in the post “Montréwood television”, I briefly spoke about Québec’s major television networks.  One of the television networks is Télé-Québec.   It is Québec’s provincial public broadcaster, and I feel it does an excellent job on producing various documentaries (a couple of the more recent, more popular documentaries it produced this year were on Lucien Bouchard and Brian Mulroney – both of which had incredible ratings in Québec).   It also carries Les franc-tireursone of Québec’s most popular television programs.

Unfortunately for many people across Canada, Télé-Québec is only available on standard television packages in Québec, Ontario and New Brunswick.

But fortunately for people across Canada, like Radio-Canada, Télé-Québec does an excellent job of archiving many of its programs for later viewing online.

Télé-Québec recently aired two documentaries which have been archived on their website for online viewing.

  • “Rencontre avec Pauline Marois, Une femme, un destin” (“A meeting with Pauline Marois, A woman, A destiny”).   As you know, Pauline Marois was Québec’s former Premier. The documentary covers her thoughts after her April defeat, and it also contains footage as they accompanied her behind the scenes during her year as Premier.  I thought the documentary was done very well.   You can view it online here:   http://rencontreavecpaulinemarois.telequebec.tv/
  • “La gloire… mais à quel prix?” (“Glory… but at what price?”) is a two-part documentary about the ambitions of two famous children of two famous personalities – and how being their children affected their ambitions.   The documentary is presented in an interview format.   The first part covers retired Formula-One racer, Jacques Villeneuve (son of the late F-1 racer Gilles Villeneuve).  The second part (starting at 27:00 minutes) is on Liberal leader Justin Trudeau (son of the late former Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau).   You can view the documentary at http://documentaires.telequebec.tv/la-gloire-mais-a-quel-prix.

Télé-Québec’s archived material does not stay online forever, so see if you can catch these before Télé-Québec replaces them with something newer.

Unfortunately, subtitling is not available if you require it.   But, if you’re learning French, still give this a shot.  If you’re at a basic level, the documentaries are still a good way to train your ear (they’re narrated in very standard French).   Enjoy your weekend.