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Marissa St. Amand is a third-year political science and communications student. Photo: Marissa St. Amand/Provided

St. Amand’s focus is on highlighting the francophone community on campus, promoting bilingual services

This interview is part of our series of articles profiling the francophone affairs commissioner candidates in the upcoming general elections for the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) 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.

The Fulcrum: Tell us a bit about yourself, including your year and program at the U of O.

Marissa St. Amand: I am a third-year student studying political science and communications. I am from Saskatoon, Sask.

The Fulcrum: What previous experience makes you well-suited to be the UOSU’s next francophone affairs commissioner?

MSA: As I said, I am from Saskatchewan, but I am a francophone from Saskatchewan. I have been passionate about bilingualism, and the French language my whole life. I have been very involved in the U of O community and I was the director of bilingualism for the International, Political & Policy Studies Student Association. I worked for the Bilingualism Centre in first semester. Overall, I’m pretty involved in most things francophone at the U of O.

The Fulcrum:  Why are you running to be francophone affairs commissioner? What projects or goals do you hope to accomplish if elected to be the UOSU’s francophone affairs commissioner? 

MSA: I definitely see a lot of potential in the francophone community in the U of O. If I were elected, I would focus a lot on making the community more visible and heard in terms of promoting French services and bilingualism on campus, especially in terms of the service centres and what they have done to offer their services in English and French. I would make sure that there are more French events during 101 Week, different networking events for francophones and francophiles to learn French. 

The Fulcrum: What areas of weakness do you see in the UOSU that you would like to improve on next year? 

MSA: At the moment, it is definitely still being rebuilt as it is still a new union. I wouldn’t say that there are any huge weaknesses per se. As I said, it is still a work in progress and the more student involvement and engagement we can get, the better it will represent the student body. I would definitely focus on engaging the students and listening to them and seeing what they have to say.

In my platform, I am pushing to have a more intersectional approach, in terms of the commissioner’s mandate, but also just for UOSU as a whole. Working with all the different service centers like the RISE Centre, Pride Centre, Centre for Students with Disabilities —   just to make things more inclusive and accessible to everyone and make sure everyone’s voices and concerns are heard.

The Fulcrum: What programs do you want to oversee that are aimed at francophone students?

MSA: I mentioned a couple of them, but I would like to make sure that 101 Week and events like that are more welcoming to francophone students and engage the francophone community as well. I’d really push to promote the second language tutoring that the Bilingualism Centre offers so that more people can have access to bilingualism and learn a second language, or whatever language it may be. I know that it’s a service that’s offered but very few people know about it.

The Fulcrum:  How will you advocate for francophone students and promote bilingualism and francophone representation? How will you push for accessibility for francophone students? 

MSA: I think I touched on that but to reiterate, I would like to put the focus on listening to students and what they need, and just being open to ideas and really engaging with students. The advocacy part would come with having more events aimed towards students but also listening to them and bringing their concerns to the table when it comes to making decisions within the UOSU and ensuring that any concerns they have are heard and taken into account.

The Fulcrum:  Why should students vote for you?

MSA: Students should vote for me if they would like a francophone community or a U of O  community that is more visible, engaged, included and inclusive. If they want someone who is passionate and is ready listen, and to make sure that their opinions and concerns are heard and taken into account.

Read our interview with Daphnée Veilleux Michaud, 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.