November is the time of year when the francophone community rewards the people who give their time and energy to improving the quality of French life in the Yukon. The Gala de la francophonie, happening Nov. 2 at the Yukon Arts Centre is an occasion to thank the remarkable people who work in many areas: services in French, volunteering, arts and culture, women’s services, health, education, and youth. But most of all, the Gala is a variety show featuring performing artists from the community.

The show has become a real tradition for the francophone community, who regard the occasion as a good excuse to get together and dress up once a year.

“The 18th Gala de la francophonie is special because we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Association franco-yukonnaise,” says Edith Belanger, the artistic director for the 2012 gala.

Belanger was manager at the Cultural Branch of the Association franco-yukonnaise (l’AFY) for many years and was for many year also the producer, director and coordinator the gala. After a few years’ break, she is now back in the show.

“Under the theme of the year, ‘Empreintes’ [footprints], we redraw the francophone history of the past 30 years, but also since the arrival of the first families in the Yukon during the Gold Rush,” says Belanger. “With the help of the Yukon Francophone Historical Society, who did some serious work researching archive pictures and we [will] present a slide show featuring our history. We are not only celebrating l’AFY, but we are outlining the existence of the Yukon francophonie that made the Association franco-yukonnaise possible. It’s important to realize that more than anything it’s a show of the community.”

Performers at the gala will include Soir de Semaine and Hélène Beaulieu; choirs such as Les Ceuses qui ont du fun quand y chantent; and singers from Emilie Tremblay and Whitehorse elementary schools.

“The shows of the past years were directed by Art-Lequin Theatre or people related to the organization, so it was a lot related to theatre and sketch. Even though we don’t have a formal house band this year, the 2012 edition is more a show of music, performances and humor,” says Belanger.

The coordination of the gala involves a lot of workers and volunteers. On stage alone, audiences can expect to see about 50 performers throughout the evening. Behind the scenes, a team of 10 people are working to coordinate and produce the show, with many more volunteering to all make it all happen.

Empreintes” is also the theme of the gala’s art exhibition. The work of more than 10 visual artists will be on exhibit in the lobby of the Yukon Arts Centre from 7 p.m. onwards.

Following the gala, the exhibition will be on display at the community hall of the Centre de la francophonie until December 18.

The Gala de la francophonie is an event not to be missed — a once per year show where audiences can enjoy great entertainment and celebrate the exceptional people of our community. And, who knows, maybe you’ll get to leave your print.

The Gala de la francophonie takes place Friday, Nov. 2 at the Yukon Arts Centre. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the YAC, Arts Underground, and the Centre de la francophonie.

Virginie Hamel is a regular contributor to What’s Up Yukon who keeps tab on events in Yukon’s francophone community.