Marje Lalonde, Jacques Fortier and Eva Aariak honoured for contributions to French-speaking communit

Francophones dole out first-ever Uiviit awards


Iqaluit's francophone community paid tribute to two of its own and one of its friends June 23.

The Association des francophones du Nunavut handed out the first-ever Uiviit Awards honouring francophone achievement in the community, politics and justice, as well as a prominent local friend of francophones in Nunavut.

Marje Lalonde, who in almost 35 years in Iqaluit has volunteered for everything from homelessness groups and the food bank to education, was honoured for her lifetime of community work, including her efforts to found the Francophone association in the early 1980s and to implement French-language classes at Nakasuk School.

"Marje is a great example of perseverance, endurance, generosity, hope, thirst for life, enthusiasm and positive thinking," said an AFN news release. "The francophone community can only benefit from such a person."

The association honoured Jacques Fortier for his work as an AFN board member and as a member of the Commission scolaire francophone du Nunavut, for working "to ensure acknowledgement and promotion of the French language."

Eva Aariak, former languages commissioner of Nunavut, was given a "francophile" award acknowledging her as a friend of the francophone community in Iqaluit. The AFN credited Aariak for staffing her office with French speakers and consulting with the francophone community. They also noted Aariak's Iqaluit gift shop has trilingual signs.

"All through her mandate, the francophone community of Nunavut felt it had an ally in its actions aiming at the recognition of French in Nunavut," the release said.

The awards presentation coincided with a St. Jean Baptiste Day banquet and a performance by the Quebec band La Radouchine as part of the Alianait arts festival. The banquet was also marked by a standing ovation for departing chef Jean-Francois Caron, who's soon heading south.

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