It’s really happening in the North for the first time.

The Gala of Emerging Francophone Musicians and the Francophone Performing Arts Fair, Chant’Ouest and Contact Ouest, are coming to the Yukon.

The events are presented by the Réseau des grands espaces, which represents western Canadian francophone performing artists, and the Association franco-yukonnaise (l’Afy).

For its 30th anniversary, l’Afy is hosting the events. This year, one more discipline is represented: visual art (YAC).

The work of two visual artists from each province and territory and eight artists from the Yukon will be featured at the francophone visual artists’ exhibition Visuelle’Art.

The grand opening for all these activities will take place on Thursday, September 20 in the lobby of the Yukon Art Centre.

After the 8 p.m. opening, four emerging musicians from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Yukon will perform for the Gala Chant’Ouest, the musical gala of francophone music from western Canada. The winner of the gala will perform at the Festival de la Chanson de Granby in Québec.

On the following two days, 18 emerging francophone performing artists will showcase their work before an audience of 200 professionals in the performing arts industry.

Yukon musicians Soir de Semaine, Blue Hibou and Sylvie Painchaud will represent the territory at this year’s Contact Ouest. Whitehorse audience will have an opportunity to admire their work in the YAC lobby next month.

Participants in the event will also attend various workshops, networking development activities and meetings.

Contact Ouest will close with a gala performance on Sunday, September 23 at the arts centres, sponsored by the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada/Cercle des auteurs-compositeurs-interprètes (SOCAN).

The public is invited to attend Chant’Ouest on Thursday evening, as well as the artist showcases on Friday and Saturday and the SOCAN gala.

Tickets are available at the Yukon Arts Centre box office and Arts Underground.

A schedule of events for Chant’Ouest and Contact Ouest can be found at http://www.reseaugrandsespaces.ca/contactouest/.

Je parles français and I love in English

The project, Je parles français and I love in English, originated with Ketsia Houde, coordinator of the francophone women’s group Les EssentiElles.

The idea came from her visit to a national meeting of the Women’s Francophone Alliance, which includes all the francophone women’s associations across the country.

The concept started forming in Houde’s mind as she listened to stories about women’s reality and issues from around the country.

“All the stories I’ve heard were so interesting, I wanted to gather those testimony and present it to an audience,” Houde says.

At the time, Réseau Femme, the British Columbia counterpart of Les EssentiElles, was doing a theatre project called Textuelle, which gathered stories written by women of all ages and origins and performed by professional actors.

Houde was inspired by what she heard about the B.C. project.

“I was recently thinking about the reality of many women in the Yukon,” she says

“A lot of us live in exogamous [cross-cultural] couples, having issues about trying to keep our francophone culture in our lives. In this community, I’ve heard a lot of interesting stories about the challenge of exogamous couples and I thought we had to talk about it.”

Over the next few months, the project, Je parles français and I love in English, will collect stories of women from exogamous families in the Yukon.

“What happens when you need to transmit your Francophone culture to your kids but your husband doesn’t understand the language? It can be fine, but couples can also experience tension from this challenge,” Houde says.

Les EssentiElles will develop short plays from the stories collected during the coming year. Je parles français and I love in English will be presented in March, 2013.