Guy Rodgers with Mélanie Joly (Minister of Tourism, Official languages and La Francophonie)
A couple of years ago, I was invited to join the board of le Salon du Livre de Montréal, which was seeking to become more diverse and inclusive. Part of ELAN’s mandate is to build bridges with Quebec’s French-speaking artistic community, so I agreed to join, despite knowing that past efforts to create visibility for English-language writers and publishers at the Salon were not successful. That was at a time when the two solitudes were more deeply entrenched. Quebec has changed. The current staff and board of the Salon du Livre made a compelling case to the Quebec Writers’ Federation and the Association of English-Language Publishers of Quebec that it is time to make a fresh start. An agreement was struck, and a large contingent of English-Language writers will appear at this year’s Salon du Livre de Montréal from November 14-19. We hope this will be the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship. If you love books, I highly recommend the adventure. Hope to see you there.
I have two other important new initiatives to mention. Both are products of the federal Action Plan for Official Languages 2018-23. The first is a new Micro Grants programme that will provide funding for all of the 300 schools in Quebec’s English-language school boards to engage artists to work with students. ELAN is helping the Department of Canadian Heritage design a program so simple and user-friendly that every school in Quebec will want to participate several times over the four-year life of the project. This programme will create opportunities for many artists to work in schools.
The second Official Languages programme is designed to assist community media, whose survival has been threatened by the rise of global media conglomerates. Stronger local media means stronger communities. Our French-speaking colleagues outside Quebec have associations to represent community radio and community newspapers. In Quebec, we have the Quebec Community Newspapers Association (QCNA), but no group to represent community radio. ELAN has agreed to fill the gap with the assistance of Hugh Maynard who brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise. You will be hearing a lot more about these two initiatives in the future.
We have a new government in Quebec and a new Minister of Culture and Communications. I wish to congratulate Mme Nathalie Roy on her nomination. Mme Roy has been a member of the National Assembly since 2012 and I’ve had a couple of very positive interactions with her. We were also happy to learn that Mme Roy’s Chief of Staff will be Manon Gauthier, who was responsible for the Cultural and Heritage Portfolio in Denis Coderre’s Montreal administration. ELAN looks forward to working with both of them.