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100 years old and counting

Thursday, June 6, 2013

La Liberté, Manitoba’s French weekly newspaper, reached an amazing milestone on May 20th - 100 years in existence. That makes it Western Canada’s oldest French newspaper. Established in 1913 by Bishop Langevin and the Oblate Fathers, it’s been connecting Franco-Manitobans province-wide, long before social media ever made its first appearance.

Ink and paper

A newspaper is but ink on paper. What La Liberté is really celebrating is 100 years of stories, big and small, victories and defeats. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will feature some of the very same themes that have been reflected over the last century in La Liberté’s pages: language rights, Métis rights and the freedom of the press. It’s with the help of democratic tools such as newspapers that human rights can be elevated and brought to light.

Georges Forest
Georges Forest received an English-only parking ticket and fought for his French language rights. He won his court case in the Canadian Supreme Court. His story will be among the ones displayed when the Canadian Museum for Human Rights opens in 2014. (La
 

Franco-Manitoban in a sea of English

Growing up as a Franco-Manitoban in a sea of English, La Liberté was a like a lifeline to me. By giving me a glimpse into the surrounding French communities, it opened up my world. I was given the gift of a sense of belonging and it’s been part of my life for as long as I can remember.

I have to admit, I have a bit of a love affair with La Liberté. It all began with the dizzying high of winning a color-drawing contest at age 7, which earned me accolades from far and wide (well, from aunts and uncles in neighbouring towns). Any Franco-Manitoban child worth his or her salt fondly remembers Bicolo, the dark-haired, pointy-hat brainchild of Cécile Mulaire. 

 
Bicolo
Was there a bigger honor than seeing your name in ink on the Bicolo page?
 

Later on, as a young adult, La Liberté was vital to any job search since it was a great source for French-related job postings. Today, as an adult, I catch up on what’s going on in my community. I get to see in its pages the people I grew up with, the ones who are today’s community leaders. As a parent with children in the Division scolaire franco-manitobaine, I’m kept up-to-date with what’s happening in the schools. There’s always copy La Liberté lying around somewhere in my house.

100th anniversary

To mark its 100th anniversary, La Liberté has planned a series of events and projects. One project that particularly speaks to me is the indexing and digitization of La Liberté’s collection, dating all the way back to 1913. With a click of mouse, young and old will be able to travel back in time and get a peek into the past. They’ll be able to read for themselves how Franco-Manitobans lived through history-shaping events like the language crisis.

Plus now I get to share with my children those heady days of winning a coloring contest at age 7!

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