MONTREAL, APRIL 10, 2012—CEGEP André Laurendeau in LaSalle was the site of the 2012 French for the Future Montreal Local Forum. Aimed at promoting bilingualism amongst Canadian youth, the theme was Respect, Culture and Integration Into Québécois Society. More than 450 students from eight Montreal high schools and three school boards were present.
International standup comedy superstar Mike Ward, a francophone with an English name, was one of the keynote speakers along with Just For Laughs Festival President Andy Nulman. Dancer, teacher and producer Pierre-Michel Jean-Louis was a most entertaining and energetic master of ceremonies.
Participating schools were: John F. Kennedy High School in St. Michel, Westmount High School, Lauren Hill Academy in St. Laurent, from the English Montreal School Board (EMSB); Lakeside Academy in Lachine, John Rennie High School, LaSalle Comprehensive, and Lindsay Place from the Lester B. Pearson School Board; and Howard S. Billings High School from the New Frontiers School Board.
Ward is not just a French Comedy Superstar, he’s a French comedy legend. He’s won multiple awards (Gemini, Victor, Olivier), produced two platinum-selling DVDs and was ranked among the Top 25 French Comedians of All Time by the Festival Juste Pour Rire. Internationally, he is ranked in the Top 10 Funniest Comedians by The-Top-Tens.com, and has more hits on his website, Mikeward.ca, than any other Québécois performer, more than Celine Dion, Simple Plan, even more than internet sensation Jon Lajoie. Ward has been headlining in French since the mid-1990s, but is still fairly new to the world of English comedy. In fact he’s just been doing it since 2007.
With an anglophone father and a francophone mother, Ward considers himself “Pierre Trudeau’s dream.” He attended English public school in the Quebec City area. Nulman spoke about his days at LaurenHill Academy (then called Sir Winston Churchill High) in St. Laurent and how working at the Just For Laughs Festival and in the private sector helped him become bilingual. Ward noted his ability to speak both languages has opened many doors for him, notably being able to perform around the world.
The program began with some words of welcome from Christine Napisa, an anglophone student who chose to attend the French CEGEP André Laurendeau followed by a SLAM poetry performance and workshop with Québécois musician MC June. Ward and Nulman were a highlight as the keynote speakers; an Ontario youth from the Katimavik program spoke about his choice to study in French and, to wrap up the morning, there was a show from the Francophone Hip Hop troupe, GuettoNest, from the Vise Haut dance school. In the afternoon there was an interactive quiz on Canadian and Quebec culture coordinated by EMSB French consultants Marlène Boudrault and Roxane Bérubé followed by La Ligue d’improvisation Montréalaise performing one of their interactive, entertaining shows.
Bureau en Gros was one of the sponsors of the event and they presented each student with a Bescherelle French grammar book as well as prizes that added to the excitement of the Forum.
“The goal of the day is to provide an opportunity for Anglophone youth to be immersed in the French language over the course of an entire day and to both have fun in French and to feel proud of being bilingual,” said Alyssa Kuzmarov, coordinator of the event. “It will strengthen their connection to the Quebecois culture that surrounds them on a daily basis.”
For more details log on to www.french-future.org.