A well-de­served award

Tréva Cousineau re­ceived the Riche­lieu Al­bert-boyer Award

Orleans Star - - LOCAL NEWS - Ben­jamin Va­chet ben­jamin.va­chet@transcon­ti­nen­tal.ca Twit­ter @Or­leansstar

Usu­ally the Gala Riche­lieu de la fran­co­phonie is largely cred­ited to the work of Tréva Cousineau. But for the 13th edi­tion, she had passed the torch and it was she who was hon­ored Fri­day, March 2.

"When I learned that I would re­ceive this award, I was very happy but very sur­prised. Usu­ally, I helped or­ga­nize the gala, so when they called me, I ini­tially thought they wanted me to ask for help," smiles Cousineau.

Al­ways ready to lend a hand, the pres­i­dent of the Or­léans sec­tor of Club Riche­lieu Vi­sion has con­tin­ued to in­vest in the Fran­co­phone com­mu­nity, no mat­ter where she lives. The Riche­lieu Al­bert-boyer Award, which rec­og­nizes an in­di­vid­ual who has dis­tin­guished his or her­self for the Fran­co­phone cause, was there­fore log­i­cally meant for her.

Since mov­ing to the board in Tim­mins, where she was born, the for­mer teacher and di­eti­tian has con­tin­ued to in­vest in ad­vanc­ing Fran­co­phone life, in­clud­ing the gen­eral di­rec­tion of the Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Fran­co­phone School Boards and the Coun­cil of Catholic Ed­u­ca­tion for Fran­co­phones in On­tario (CCEFO) and in sev­eral lo­cal, pro­vin­cial and na­tional com­mit­tees.

"I was lucky be­cause in the north, there were not many fran­co­phone women to qual­ify to sit on these com­mit­tees. I might have had fewer op­por­tu­ni­ties in Ot­tawa. That said, it put a great re­spon­si­bil­ity on my shoul­ders when I was speak­ing as the only fran­co­phone."

For­mer Pres­i­dent of the French Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of On­tario from 2004 to 2006, Cousineau has rep­re­sented On­tario on the board of di­rec­tors of the Cen­tre de la fran­co­phonie des Amériques since 2010. At 74, her de­sire to be­come in­volved re­mains in­tact.

"This is a new chal­lenge for me. Af­ter all these years, I’m not tired!" she says.

While ac­knowl­edg­ing that it is some­times dif­fi­cult to del­e­gate, her en­thu­si­asm and ded­i­ca­tion for the French lan­guage, it’s al­lowed her to make a con­tri­bu­tion to the still frag­ile Fran­co­phone com­mu­nity.

"I am par­tic­u­larly proud to have chaired the ad­vi­sory group on the man­age­ment of ed­u­ca­tion in French that gave birth to the French school boards. The Mon­u­ment de la fran­co­phonie d’ot­tawa is also among the great­est achieve­ments of my ca­reer."

With her ex­pe­ri­ence, she looks to the fu­ture with cau­tion, and is al­ways on guard.

"Ev­ery fight lets us move for­ward. If I am not pes­simistic, the fu­ture wor­ries me be­cause of the ram­pant as­sim­i­la­tion, es­pe­cially in east­ern On­tario. The younger gen­er­a­tion has not ex­pe­ri­enced ma­jor strug­gles and takes what we have for granted. As Pierre Berg­eron said, ‘Be­ing French is a decision we make ev­ery day.’ So be care­ful. But what re­as­sures me is to see the work of FFOY (Fed­er­a­tion of Franco-on­tar­ian Youth). We need them!"

Ms. Cousineau, who sits on the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee for public cafes in the com­mu­nity, has high hopes.

"It is im­por­tant that the whole com­mu­nity is in­volved and not just the reg­u­lars. We want to hear what peo­ple have to say."

Ms. Cousineau does not hide her own wishes. She would like to see the City of Ot­tawa be­come of­fi­cially bilin­gual.

Trans­lated by Ciara Mcgrath, co-op stu­dent

Photo: pro­vided

Tréva Cousineau was awarded the Al­bert Riche­lieu-boyer Award Fri­day, March sec­ond, at the 13th an­nual Riche­lieu Fran­cophony Gala.

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