The Association communautaire fransaskoise de Moose Jaw (ACFMJ) has been holding an annual Tintamarre parade to celebrate the city's French-speaking population, history, and culture for many years, and they turned out on March 17 to continue the tradition.
Tintamarre is a word literally meaning racket, din, uproar, and noise. It is an Acadian French traditional parade that brings people together with flags and costumes and noisemakers such as pots, pans, and even musical instruments. Despite its Acadian origins, Tintamarre now unites all French speakers in Canada.
Canada's Acadian Tintamarre began in 1955 during commemoration ceremonies for the 200th anniversary of the British Expulsion of the Acadians. The Expulsion killed thousands of people as part of the Britain's war against New France. During the ceremony, the Archbishop of Moncton invited attendees to make noise with whatever they could find — a journalist at the time described the sound as the heartbeat of French-speaking Canada, two centuries after the attempt to extinguish it.
The City of Moose Jaw has five schools offering French or French immersion to students, including:
- École Ducharme (francophone)
- Palliser Heights (elementary school immersion)
- École St. Margaret (elementary school immersion)
- Central Collegiate (high school immersion)
- Vanier Collegiate (high school immersion)
In addition to the schools, there are also native French speakers in the community and a considerable population of newcomers to Canada who speak French as their first language.
Students, teachers, principals, community members, and newcomers marched from Crescent Park to Ecole Ducharme, making a joyful racket together. Dignitaries out for the occasion included Moose Jaw Mayor Clive Tolley, Moose Jaw Police Service Chief Rick Bourassa, and Denis Simard.
Simard is president of the Assemblée communautaire fransaskoise, the provincial parent organization representing French speakers in Saskatchewan.
"Tintamarre is an opportunity to make it known and to showcase that there's a French community in Moose Jaw," Simard explained. "It's important for people to come out, make some noise, have a bit of a celebration. March is also le mois de la Francophonie, so it's 'the month celebrating the French language.'
"So, it's an opportunity for everyone in Moose Jaw who speaks French to come out and spend some time together."