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Red Deer school hosts annual French carnival celebration

École Camille J. Lerouge’s event was held Monday, Thursday and continues Friday
École Camille J. Lerouge School students participated in a talking circle inside of a teepee, as well as other activities, during the school’s annual Carnaval celebration on Thursday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

A Red Deer school has been celebrating French culture during its annual winter carnival celebration this week.

École Camille J. Lerouge School, a pre-kindergarten to Grade 9 institution, began hosting the event with a half-day celebration on Monday for the institution’s middle school students.

The carnival continued Thursday with some kindergarten students joining Grade 3-5 for a full day of celebrations.

“Here at Camille, we pride ourselves on being bilingual and multicultural. This day brings opportunities to celebrate French Canadian culture and brings authentic experiences to our students,” inclusive lead teachers Natasha Topley and Michelle Voytechek, and vice-principal Erika Pottage wrote to The Advocate in a joint statement on Thursday.

“During our Carnaval d’hiver, our school community builds connections, promotes belonging and immerses students and staff in the French language.”

The school’s event stems from the annual winter carnival that takes place in Quebec City each year.

École Camille J. Lerouge School’s carnival kicked off last week with the Francophone dance troupe La Girandole – after a week of workshops, each grade presented their traditional french dance at a school assembly.

“This week, throughout the day, students rotate through engaging, hands-on centers that focus on various aspects of French traditions,” said the statement.

“Centres include wooden spoons, learning about and braiding a traditional ceinture flechée/Métis sash, dancing the Métis jig (a combination of Indigenous, Scottish and French Canadian step dancing), sharing and connecting through a talking circle in our school tipi, and plenty of winter activities such as; building igloo’s, marshmallow sculptures, cooperative skiing, tobogan relays, Bonhomme Carnaval activities and of course snow hockey.”

Grade 1-2 students, joined by others in kindergarten, will take part in the celebrations on Friday.

École Camille J. Lerouge School is a Catholic French immersion school and is part of the Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools division.

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Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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