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A new direction at the French Canadian Society of Prince Albert

Soraya Ellert is the new Executive Director of the French Canadian Society of Prince Albert (SCFPA).

Credits: Courtesy

The Société canadienne-française de Prince Albert (SCFPA) announced on January 28 the appointment of Soraya Ellert to the position of general manager. A long-time social worker across the country, the new manager also directed the BDS Francophone Center (Bellevue, Domrémy, St. Louis) and was community deputy for Gravelbourg-Willow Bunch. Accustomed to minority communities, Soraya Ellert wants to make the SCFPA a rallying point for Francophones and Francophiles in the north of the province. She explains her vision to living water.

How is your appointment going?

It’s a little more complicated transition, because I’m still in Alberta, but the former directors are doing what they can to help the transition. The administration of the organization is carried out remotely for the moment. I will be in Prince Albert from 1erapril. The board of directors made efforts to make everything work well.

Can you retrace the main lines of your career, in particular your involvement in the Francophonie?

I’ve lived in minority communities since 1980. Whether in the Northwest Territories, Alberta or Saskatchewan, I’ve had a particular journey.

I started as a military spouse, then worked for social services in youth protection. I worked as a social worker in the communities of Lloydminster, La Ronge, Deline, Inuvik, Whati, Wekweti, Fort Good Hope, or Tuktoyaktuk. Then I was in the Youth Protection Department for Nunavut and then for the James Bay Crees in Quebec.

I then turned to the community sector and, since then, I gravitate in the community sector on several levels that I find rewarding.

What prompted you to return to Saskatchewan in April 2020, in the midst of a pandemic?

My return to Saskatchewan was motivated by the need to be closer to my family, including my granddaughter who has since returned to live with me. I needed to find myself in a familiar and welcoming environment.

What is your vision for the SCFPA as the new director?

That the SCFPA become the unifying organization for all Francophones in the north of the province, create a link with the communities north of Prince Albert. May the Académie Rivier project finally move forward with a positive outcome for the community.

In this regard, how is the project to transform the former Académie Rivier into a citizen community school center progressing?

A letter was sent to Premier Scott Moe and the Minister of Education requesting progress on the project. We have been waiting for an answer for three years. The issue of community spaces cannot be settled until we have an answer…

Can you give us an overview of the activities organized or offered by the SCFPA?

The SCFPA gives French lessons to new learners in collaboration with Collège Mathieu. We offer 20 hours of beginner and intermediate level French lessons per year for our clients, from October to April.

The FrancoFun summer camp has been organized by the SCFPA every year for over 20 years. In 2021, the camp welcomed more than 100 young participants aged 5 to 12 from Prince Albert and surrounding areas, such as Bellevue. It was truly a fun summer camp filled with games, outdoor activities and new friendships. We can’t wait to meet the young people in 2022.

Despite the pandemic, does cultural life in French find its place in Prince Albert?

Yes, the SCFPA was able to organize different types of shows (music and theatre) to celebrate different events and maintain the Francophone and Francophile community of Prince Albert and its surroundings. We had the opportunity to be with artists like Étienne Fletcher, Michel Lalonde, Mario Lepage and, recently, the show pandamur of the Troop of the Day.

We celebrated National Francophone Immigration Week with two activities, a presentation of the film in French Francophone intimacy with them and the comedy show with Micheline Marchildon.

For Christmas, the SCFPA organized a day of skating, a cooking contest and a show with Michel Lalonde and his group. The show was really great. There were even people from Regina and Bellevue. It was an opportunity to meet people and chat.

The SCFPA has also created, in partnership with Radio Prairie FM, a radio program called let’s talk about it. Episodes cover a variety of issues in Prince Albert and air Sundays at 6:30 p.m. or on the SCFPA YouTube account. The show’s three hosts, Denise Jones, Céline Tremblay and Sarah Mbau, all lived here in Prince Albert.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the SCFPA?

COVID, and join members without face-to-face events. Despite the pandemic, the SCFPA has organized many face-to-face and virtual activities. I would even say much more compared to other communities. There is a community that is engaged despite the difficulties of the pandemic.

Finally, what does Fransaskois represent for you on a personal level?

Fransaskoisie is my identity! As a military child, I never had a sense of belonging to a community before I arrived in Saskatchewan. I remember when I was younger, I hated it when people asked me the question “Where are you from? because I never knew what to answer – Alberta, Quebec, Germany, I didn’t know. Everything changed when I arrived in Saskatchewan, I felt welcomed and finally felt a sense of belonging to a place, a group, a community. Now, when people ask me the question, I proudly answer that I am Fransaskois!

The ACFR in the reconquest of the Fransaskois

The ACFR in the reconquest of the Fransaskois

Family celebration in Gravelbourg

Family celebration in Gravelbourg


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