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Gala for the Launch of the Salon du livre du Grand Sudbury

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Gala for the Launch of the Salon du livre du Grand Sudbury

Sudbury, Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I had promised myself that I would one day attend a launch of Sudbury’s Salon du livre, to honour the Francophone writers, artisans and book lovers of Northern Ontario and celebrate the cultural vitality of the largest Francophone community outside Quebec.

This gala, charmingly named “Page blanche” or “blank page,” is bound to be a very special event, as it elicits hope and allows our imaginations to conjure all the words, tales, thoughts, feelings, stories and plays that will soon fill the page, transporting us to a world at once so very near to and so far removed from our own everyday lives.

This is the source, if I may say, of all the power of creation, all the power of your creativity.

And you have given this launch an added dimension, a little something extra to complement the pleasures of the mind and heart, in the form of Northern Ontario gastronomic delights to tickle our taste buds.

Indeed, all our senses will be well satisfied!

My dear friends, I have long dreamt of coming here and enjoying with you the wonderful, incomparable cultural richness of your corner of the country, be it through the legacy of CANO, the dramatic works of Michel Ouellette, or the poetry of Patrice Desbiens or the late Robert Dickson, to whom I paid tribute on the 50th anniversary of the Canada Council.

To my mind, literature is a means of exploring, of renewing a language that would otherwise be doomed to stagnation, of taking a closer look at things and of remembering a community and the world.

As essayist Yolande Grisé so aptly put it, without the practice and study of literature, there would be no true knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the difficulty of a life in French in Ontario.

What I personally admire most—and I am speaking here to all Francophones in Northern Ontario—what I admire most is your unshakeable desire to live in French and admirable pride in doing so, no matter what…and by that very fact, your contribution to enriching our beloved language with your own tones, cadences, imagery, accent—in short, your own special and unique contribution to the Francophone world’s global heritage.

In closing, I want you to know, dear friends, how very pleased I am to have had the opportunity to tell you this in person and to take part in the launch of this year’s Salon du livre du Grand Sudbury. And to those of you who took part in our 50th Art Matters forum, which we had the pleasure of holding here in Sudbury under the invigorating theme of art and culture’s ability to breathe new life into our communities, I want you to know that, from the start, listening to you was a joyful breath of fresh air and that your words were so inspiring, I wanted to share and cite them as a example.

Long live the Salon du livre! 

Long live the Franco-Ontarian culture, one of the treasures of this vast country of ours, a country where everything is possible!