Veilleux-Michaud aims to develop francophone cafe, step up UOSU promotion of francophones events
This interview is part of our series of articles profiling the francophone affairs commissioner candidates in the upcoming University of Ottawa Students’ Union’s (UOSU) general elections that will be held from March 25-27. All candidates were asked the same set of questions for consistency. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Daphnée Veilleux Michaud is a first-year conflict studies and human rights student.
The Fulcrum: What previous experience makes you well-suited to be the UOSU’s next francophone affairs commissioner?
Daphnée Veilleux Michaud: I have multiple experiences working in ‘la francophonie’.
I worked with la Fédération de la Jeunesse Franco-Ontarienne (FESFO) where I represented the central Ontario region (Sudbury, North Bay, and Sault-Ste-Marie).
During my year as a rep, my main concentration was language insecurity. Language insecurity affects francophones that may have learned French as a second language or that have an accent that isn’t familiar to most Franco-Ontarian and Quebecers.
My mission was to help break the stereotype that there is a ‘better French’ that is uniform and right. I fought to help people understand that their accent doesn’t make them less francophone and to encourage them to interact in French.
I also represented my high school for a couple of years at the FESFO.
I was also very involved with my school council, my job on the council was to organize francophone activities like la Journée franco-Ontarienne.
The Fulcrum: Why are you running to be francophone affairs commissioner?
DVM: I was very involved with ‘la francophonie’ in high school and when I arrived here I wanted to stay involved but it was hard to find activities in French.
I couldn’t find any activities on the UOSU website and had to look around the campus. At the moment, it’s hard to find any activities especially if you don’t know where to look. Plus, when you go to these activities it’s always the same four or five people that are hardened defendants of ‘la francophonie’.
So I want to put all these activities and more on the UOSU website so that they’re easy to find for everyone who wants to participate.
The Fulcrum: What projects or goals do you hope to accomplish if elected to be the UOSU’s francophone affairs commissioner?
DVM: I want to open a francophone cafe for people who are in French immersion or simply want to learn French. The cafe would provide an environment where they can learn to speak French and practice with friends and other people looking to learn the language. It would be a very social environment, not like class and with no grammar, it could be where Café Alt was.
My other goal is that during 101 Week, there could be some francophone activities that aren’t at the same time as bar crawls or other big events. This year, most francophone activities were at the same time as bar crawls and a bar crawl obviously sounds better than a franco movie. So we need to make sure franco activities aren’t at the same time as the big activities.
The Fulcrum: What areas of weakness do you see in the UOSU that you would like to improve on next year?
DVM: I want to improve the way they promote their activities so people can find them easily on the website, so definitely the promotion of activities.
When I went to the General Assembly, I saw that the constitution was not offered in French. I want to make sure that every document is translated into French.
The Fulcrum: What programs do you want to oversee that are aimed at francophone students?
DVM: The Bilingual Centre of course, and I want to make sure documents are translated easily, and the francophone cafe.
The Fulcrum: How will you advocate for francophone students and promote bilingualism and francophone representation?
DVM: I will definitely try to be involved so people can associate a face to the changes happening on campus. I’m going to do this by making sure I’m very involved in activities, introducing myself during 101 Week so students associate a face to a name. Often people don’t know who’s who, so people can know what’s happening and who I am.
The Fulcrum: How will you push for accessibility for francophone students?
DVM: Since high school, I’ve been pushing for ‘la francophonie,’ so I’m very experienced.
I will make sure there’s a francophone point of view for every UOSU decision and I will be speaking from that point of view. I will also listen to francophone students to make sure my point of view aligns with their own point of view.
The Fulcrum: Why should students vote for you?
DVM: Students should vote for me because I’ve been in their situation, totally lost to what’s happening on campus. When I get voted in I want to make sure that they know what’s happening.
I think also students should vote for me because I am relatable to them, and have interesting ideas, such as more promotion and the francophone cafe.
Read our interview with Marissa St. Amanda, who is also running to be the UOSU’s francophone affairs commissioner. Stay tuned for our interview with Rony Fotsing, who is running to be francophone affairs commissioner as well.