Celebrating Francophonie Day with Students

By Ron Fanfair

Ron Fanfair

Writer/Photographer

43 Division
Community Partnerships and Engagement Unit

Toronto Police officers joined Alexandre Dumas Academy staff and students for this year’s International Francophonie Day celebration in Scarborough on March 20.

“It is very important for us to build connections with the community and that includes the Toronto Police Service,” said Principal Manon Lavigne. “Police are excellent role models for our students and it is great that we utilize every opportunity to let them know that the police are always there to help us.”

Located in 43 Division, Unit Commander David Rydzik and Inspector Ryan Forde attended the celebration.

“While we are here to celebrate Francophonie Day, we have a wonderful relationship with all of our schools,” Rydzik said. “Our presence resonates with the kids as you can see some of them saluting us and fist bumping. They are so impressionable at this young age and we feel it's important coming out to schools and connecting with them. It brings back memories of when I was a kid and police officers would come to my school.”

Two police officers dance with children during an assembly
PC's Michelle Gillespie (left) and Alison Trainer (right) dance with students at Alexandre Dumas Academy during the Francophonie Day assembly Photo: Brent Smyth

Staff Superintendent Shannon Dawson helped coordinate the event.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate this day with children who speak French,” she noted. “We have some of our French-speaking officers here and it’s a great way to engage with the community.”

This was the second time in 14 years that the French Community Consultative Committee’s (FCCC) annual International Francophonie Day celebration was held outside police headquarters.

Christine Page co-chairs the FCCC.

“This is such a great opportunity for the students to get to meet police officers and connect with them,” she said. “The kids also get to see how diverse the police service is.”

The FCCC is one of the original six consultative committees and its membership reflects the diversity of the French culture.

A student wearing a police forage cap salutes the camera while a smiling police officer looks on
Staff Sergeant Dave Oulette lent his hat to eager students of Alexandre Dumas Academy Photo: Brent Smyth

Observed annually since 1988, International Francophonie Day celebrates celebrates the cultural and linguistic diversity that makes up the French-speaking world.

In its foundational Declaration of Principles, the Toronto Police Services Board recognizes the historic role that Francophones have played in the development of Ontario and pledges, among other things, to provide appropriate services that are sensitive to the ethnic-cultural makeup of the Francophonie community.

The FCCC works to connect the Service with the French community, recruit French-speaking police officers and civilians and helps translate documents and in communications to the public.

A police officer kneels while talking to a group of students
Superintendent Dave Rydzik chats with students at Alexandre Dumas Academy following the Francophonie Day assembly Photo: Brent Smyth

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