Monday February 03, 2014 | 10:06 AM
Franco-Americans are quickly learning to connect using social media sites. This networking is long overdue. As a matter of fact, during our travels my husband and I enjoy outside of New England, we often hear from locals who say, “There are no French people around here”. Usually, this comment follows a friendly conversation about our obvious French surname and my husband’s Franco-American heritage.
“There are no French people around here”, is a curious verbatim comment we’ve heard from locals in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in Muskegon, Michigan and in Baltimore Maryland, to name just a few places. Now there’s a website https:// frenchadvocacy.wikispaces.com for educators and others to use, where information is available to change this wrong minded perception.
Just take a look at this map from the website to view where the French in North America live:
Jacques L’Heureux, a social networking family member in St. Louis MO says, “There appears to be more French communities in the United States than there are in Canada!”
Nevertheless, people we meet outside of New England frequently find it difficult to believe how my husband grew up in Maine speaking French, before he learned English.
Although speaking French as a first language in Maine is fairly common, especially in Northern Maine, most people we meet around the US, as well as outside our nation, are surprised to learn how we live in a state where French continues to be spoken, at all.
Similarly, we’ve even experienced this response in France. In fact, when in France, the locals enjoy playing a guessing game about my husband’s nationality, based on hearing his French accent. Some in France take a guess to suggest he’s South African, rather than American. Simply put, most Americans and the international community know very little about Franco-Americans compared to other immigrant groups.
What’s mystifying to me is about how the enterprising Acadians in Louisiana have created an economic culture around their French identity. This success has been difficult to replicate. In fact, it would be difficult for Americans outside of Maine to identify Franco-American communities outside of Louisiana.
As a hobby of our travels, my husband and I make a point of searching out French culture wherever we happen to be visiting. Frankly, I can’t recall anyplace we’ve been without French names or influence. Even visiting Beijing, when I asked our English speaking guide if there were French people in China, she didn’t hesitate for one second to respond, “Yes”. (Unfortunately, we’ weren’t in China long enough to seek out the French culture.)
Franco-Americans in Michigan launched a new website http://www.habitantheritage.org/. French and French Canadian people were the first Europeans to explore and settle in Michigan, writes John P. DuLong in “French-Canadians in Michigan” (Michigan State University Press Lansing, 2001). French-Canadian immigration to Michigan attracted workers into the state’s lumber and mining industries. A particular feature of Michigan’s website includes a page dedicated to Les Filles du Roi (Daughters of the King of France: 1663-1668) with a chart providing information for finding Franco-American genealogy connections to one or more of these young women. http://www.habitantheritage.org/filles_du_roi__carignan_regiment_lineage_charts
Franco-American culture and heritage are evident throughout North America
The Franco-American Connection is a social networking site at https://www.facebook.com/groups/francoamericanconnection/
Also check out Franco-Americans in Michigan http://voyageurheritage.wordpress.com
Given the impressive distribution of French in North America, as shown in the map, it seems like Maine’s Franco-American heritage should attract more international cultural awareness than is currently evident. Moreover, like Louisiana, the Franco-American cultural economy should flourish in Maine, if given the opportunities to attract the millions of French people around the world who obviously share this widely spread heritage.
Bienvenue a Maine! C'est un bon début.
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