May 3, 2013 by The Editor
Sign the petition to establish a French Canadian Heritage Day in Michigan.
Michigan’s French Canadian Heritage Day. How does that sound? While I would like this to be an announcement of an upcoming event, it is sadly not the case. Not yet! In the past few years the Governors of Michigan have issued an array of Proclamations recognizing Michigan’s great diversity: Korean American Heritage Day, Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, Black History Month, and Michigan Christian Heritage Week to name a few.
Isn’t it time for Michigan’s oldest non-Aboriginal population, the French Canadian community, to have a day celebrating its unique culture?
Since Étienne Brûlé arrived in what is now Lake Huron in the early 17th century, the Great Lakes have been part of the French Canadian universe. Successive waves of missionaries, voyageurs, and habitants arrived in the decades that followed his exploration, establishing forts and villages, living among and with the Native Americans. In the 19th century, new immigrants from Quebec arrived to work in the timber industry.
From the Keewenaw Peninsula to Monroe, from Detroit to Alpena to Sault Ste. Marie and the many small rural communities along the way, French Canadians have travelled, lived, and worked for nearly four centuries. Generations of Michigan’s French Canadians have tilled the land, hunted the forests and fished the lakes and streams, worked in Michigan’s schools and factories, and served with honor in the American armed services.
According to the website of the Governor of Michigan, each request for a special proclamation is considered on a case by case basis. To that end, I ask you to join with me in a citizen-activist campaign to create an annual French Canadian Heritage Day. Let’s celebrate 400 years of Michigan’s French Canadian Heritage!
1. First, sign the petition to establish a French Canadian Heritage Day in Michigan.
2. Tell your friends and family – use your social media to spread the word! Ask your museums, libraries, churches, genealogical and other membership organizations to support us by signing the petition and writing a letter of support.
3. Contact Governor Snyder and your state representatives and community leaders. Tell them about this campaign and ask for their support. The representatives of areas with significant historic settlement include:
Governor Rick Snyder
Senator Jim Marleau (12th)
Representative Andrea LaFontaine (32nd)
Representative Bill LaVoy (17th)
Representative Scott Dianda (110th)
Representative Peter Pettalia (106th)
Representative Frank Foster (107th)
To find other senators or representatives check here.
The Archbishop of Detroit, Allen Vigneron, is of French Canadian heritage.
4. Whether you are from Michigan or trace your roots to the region, sign our petition to support French Canadian heritage in the Great Lakes State.
5. Join the Virtual Ad Hoc Committee for Michigan’s French Canadian Heritage Day by contacting the organizer, James LaForest, via this blog.
Three dates come to mind that are important in French Canadian culture:
UPDATED: We have decided to go with Friday, October 4, 2013 for the first heritage day. See this blog post here on why.
June 24 – this is the national holiday of Quebec, corresponding to the Catholic feast day of St. Jean Baptiste.
July 26 – this is the feast day of St. Anne, a figure of remarkable importance to French Canadians, as well as to the Metis people and First Nations/Native Americans. It is also the date that construction on the parish of Ste Anne de Detroit was begun.
August 23rd-25th – while not days of unique importance, these dates overlap with the Rendevous at the Straits and Powwow an event rooted in Michigan’s early history.
Join the Ad Hoc Committee to take part in discussion on which day would be most suitable to submit to the Governor with our request. Contact the organizer via this blog with any questions. I look forward to your support!