In 1983, the very first edition of l’Aurore Boréale came out. It was a single-page newsletter distributed to the members of the Association franco-yukonnaise (AFY).
Just a few years later, l’Aurore Boréale changed its look and its mandate. With a new editorial policy to dissociate the AFY from the paper’s content, it also took on the tabloid appearance it still has today. This year, the newspaper celebrates 30 years of bringing news and giving a voice to a community throughout the territory — for free and en français.
When l’Aurore Boréale was created, part of its mandate was educational. There was a real desire among Francophone Yukoners to read in their own language. Before the internet became an all-language media resource, there was no way for minority communities to access news in their language. Furthermore, the Whitehorse collection of francophone books wasn’t mind blowing and they were pretty much nonexistent in the communities.
Cécile Girard has worked for the newspaper since its very beginning and has been its director since 1988. She recalls tales of a Francophone mine worker who came across an edition of l’Aurore Boréale, after not having been able to read a single word of French in more than 20 years.
In the beginning the publication had extremely limited resources. No training or technology was there to support the team that made it all happen. And yet, the staff persisted through all the struggles.
“The paper has always had an incredibly dedicated and talented team,” says Girard. “There are only three of us, but no one is here for a traditional 9-to-5 job. The employees’ devotion in time and energy is out of the ordinary. We work for the paper because we believe in what we do and in the role we play.”
The written press is becoming an endangered species. The advertisement niche market for l’Aurore Boréale is only a small percentage of what local Anglophone papers can dig into. Although financial pressures tend to hit minority papers harder, Girard remains confident about the future of l’Aurore Boréale.
“Our paper contains news and information that can’t be found anywhere else,” she says. “In its first years, l’Aurore Boréale’s mandate was to create reading material in French; it has now become a reference for locals news. It grew out of the educational mandate and has evolved into a professional newspaper of quality, inside and out.”
To celebrate their 30th anniversary, l’Aurore Boréale will launch their brand new website at a celebratory dinner this summer; stay tuned for the dates.
And next time you walk by an edition of l’Aurore Boréale, I dare you to pick it up and take a look at what 30 years of community hard-work looks like.