Merci David Savoie of Radio-Canada for his thoughtful piece on French in Vermont that appeared recently on Désautels le dimanche. I’m proud to be among the Vermonters he spoke to for his piece.
I specifically asked David not to use the headline “Les derniers francophones du Vermont” for his piece — in 2021 Radio-Canada did a feature report on Franco-Americans in New England called Les deniers franco-americains, which caused my eyes to roll so far back into my head that I was almost not able to retrieve them. Quebec journalists like to declare the rest of French North America dead with some regularity, and I am grateful that David resisted the urge. I think his piece does a better-than-usual job of contextualizing what it’s like to be a French-speaker in an environment where, as Coco Ngoy puts it, no one cares about French. There is cultural resilience, creativity, and transformation at work in Franco-American New England that seems difficult for the rest of la francophonie to see. As Zachary Richard has said, Just when everyone is ready to close the casket on the cadaver of French Louisiana [or Vermont or Maine or New Hampshire or Michigan or wherever], the cadaver sits up and orders a beer. (“Dès qu’on est prêt à fermer le cercueil sur le cadavre de la francophonie louisianaise, ben, le cadavre se lève, pis demande une bière.”)
David has done other excellent reporting about the State of Vermont’s eugenics program, which I hope he’ll return to now that the state has appointed three commissioners for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate historic and systemic discrimination against marginalized communities including people with disabilities, Indigenous and racialized Vermonters, and people of French-Canadian descent. Merci, David, pour votre travail important!