THE CITY has its own ambassador for bilingualism who will promote its importance and awareness of it during the next year.
Jorden Hendry, 16, went to a forum for bilingualism as one of 30 young people from across the country in Vancouver for a week at the end of August.
The forum was put on by the non-profit organization French for the Future and included workshops on the significance of bilingualism, leadership, communication and how the French language affects each of the ambassadors’ communities.
“Everyone was excited to be there. I was just proud to be there,” she said.
Hendry, who’s been in French immersion since kindergarten, heard about the forum from her French teacher, who suggested she enter so she did just on a whim, she said, adding she was surprised to be chosen from among the thousands of applicants.
Two other students were from B.C. but she was the only one from northern B.C., she said.
“It was amazing. I had a great time,” she said, adding she found her passion for French while at the forum.
It was five days jam-packed with activities and events without a second to spare, she said.
The students did a scavenger hunt and stayed on Jericho Beach, which was really beautiful, she said.
Close to where they were staying was Maillardville, the first bilingual community, where they were treated to a traditional French dinner and dancing.
They discussed how French was used in each person’s community and she learned that down east, it’s used every day whereas here, she only speaks French in school.
“In the east, they use it everyday, with their families, at school and with their friends and here in the west, it’s rare to hear people speak French here,” said Hendry.
She said she felt like a bit of an underdog to the places who spoke French a lot.
“There’s not the opportunity here to speak French. The only place for me is in class,” she said.
“Honestly it was the first time I’ve spoken French five days in a row,” she said about the forum, adding that after she came home, she kept thinking in French.
“Right now, I want to get more awareness out of the two official languages,” she said.
Bilingualism is important as English and French are the two official languages of Canada and it would be great if people could speak and hear French all across Canada and not just down east, she said.
While there, the students were asked where they found their passion for French and Hendry couldn’t think of a time but then during the course of the forum, realized that’s where she found it.
One of her ideas to do that is to hold a French connections workshop and inspire people and help them find their passion for French, she said.
She’s also planning to hold a coffee house with French music, culture and snacks.
No dates are set yet but she’s thinking of the workshop in October and the coffee house in the new year.
After she’s done high school and university, Hendry would like to live in a bilingual community.