By Alyssia De Pauw
To celebrate September 25 this year, the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute (OLBI) has created a Spotify playlist, entitled Le lys et le trille en vrille, which features songs by Franco-Ontarian performers.
The playlist contains fifty Franco-Ontarian artists whose musical genres range from hip-hop to folk. In it, you’ll find the warm tones of artists like Celeste Levis, from Timmins, Ontario, and Mimi O’Bonsawin, whose music reflects her French Canadian and Abenaki roots.
“It’s a kind of excuse, a pretext to introduce people to a cultural background, whether they’re here or elsewhere,” explains Bojan Lalovic, a documentalist at OLBI’s Julien Couture Resource Centre, who created the playlist with a group of students. “It’s also a way to affirm oneself through this richness, and to get involved in the community.”
Another purpose for this gathering of songs is to help minority francophones feel less isolated and more accepted, no matter where they come from.
“Just like the variety of genres, there is also a great diversity of origins, whether they are African, European, Toronto, or even Ottawa. I'm really proud of all this variety, all this richness,” says Lalovic.
The title of the playlist, Le lys et le trille en vrille, is a tribute to the Franco-Ontarian flag. Created in 1975 by Michel Dupuis and Gaétan Gervais, a first-year political science student and a history professor, the flag was raised for the first time on the campus of Laurentian University in Sudbury.
Combining the trillium and the fleur-de-lys, this flag was adopted by the province in 2001. It bears symbols of the Francophonie around the world, Ontario, and the dual nature of Canada’s climate.
In 2010, on the anniversary of the first raising of the flag, September 25 officially became Franco-Ontarian Day.
The OLBI team began creating playlists after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in order to unite and bring some comfort to the community. Their Spotify channel, ILOBify musique, features numerous playlists and podcasts.
Lalovic says they were looking for “something that clearly says, ‘join us, become bilingual!’ These playlists reflect what OLBI is all about: a place where people can get involved and where they don’t hesitate to express themselves. They can come to us at the Resource Centre, go to the Carrefour Francophone or use other services available on campus to feel supported and affirmed in their language. After all, it’s by opening up that we affirm ourselves.”