AFNOO: 35 years of achievement and success
The municipal office of Greenstone located in Geraldton provides services to the communities of Beardmore; Caramat; Geraldton; Jellicoe; Longlac; Macdiarmid and Nakina.
Billed as “A place for everyone!”, (Une place pour tout le monde!), Francophones and Anglophones gathered together in Thunder Bay last May 26th, to celebrate the history and heritage of the francophone community in Northwestern Ontario.
Spearheading the “Franco-Festival” was the Association des francophones du Nord-Ouest de l’Ontario, better known as AFNOO. Established in 1977 as a not-for-profit umbrella organization for 23 groups and association across eight cities in Northwestern Ontario, AFNOO continues to develop projects and activities designed to foster the cultural, educational, political and economic well-being of Francophones, thirty-five years later.
With FedNor’s help, AFNOO developed a five-year strategic plan to define their next steps in supporting the growth and economic development of Francophone communities in Northwestern Ontario. Wanting to develop a plan that answered the needs of the communities it served, AFNOO proceeded to host regional focus groups. During the sessions, a need was identified in Greenstone as many Francophones found themselves unemployed due to the downturn in the forestry sector.
With FedNor EDI funding, an initiative to encourage sustainable growth in Northern Ontario’s Francophone communities, AFNOO created a two-year economic develop officer position for the municipality of Greenstone. Through a series of consultations and networking opportunities, the officer was tasked with empowering and reinvigorating Francophone organizations and entrepreneurs, and implementing a strategy promoting economic development for the Municipality of Greenstone, which includes the communities of Beardmore; Caramat; Geraldton; Jellicoe; Longlac; Macdiarmid and Nakina.
Francophone entrepreneurs and local organisations gathered in Geraldton to participate in a workshop organized by l’AFNOO. The workshop “Un pas en avant à Greenstone” offered marketing, technology, financing and recruiting sessions.
“For many Francophones, language barriers can present challenges when trying to share ideas on how to grow a community. L’AFNOO is instrumental in addressing that barrier by offering French-language sessions for the entire region of Greenstone, where Francophones can actively participate in the future of their communities,” said Renald Beaulieu, Mayor of Greenstone.
“The economic benefits associated with hiring an economic development officer for the Greenstone regions were unprecedented for the Francophone community. Not only did the visibility of Francophones increase, so did support for entrepreneurs, organizations and institutions which has boosted the Francophone community and allowed for the establishment of two entities, a youth leadership group, the Groupe Franco Ados and the Conseil de développement économique de Greenstone (CDÉFG), a working group that concentrates on mobilising and promoting the visibility and active participation of Francophones to economic development of the region.’ said Élodie Bedouet, Executive Director of l’AFNOO.
From feasibility studies to the development of strategic plans, FedNor has invested close to $460,000 in initiatives promoting the advancement of Francophone communities in Northwestern Ontario and with a 5-year road map in hand, AFNOO continues its mandate of being the voice of Francophones in Northwestern Ontario.
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