The official anthem of Franco-Ontarians is beyond folklore. More than a poem. The political song of our great cultural tradition, Our Place⁠1 has punctuated our demonstrations, our gatherings and our music festivals, fueling our resistance, our joy and our voice.

On November 18, 1986, elected members of the Ontario government would vote unanimously in favor of Bill 8, the French Language Services Act in Ontario, enacted three years later, which gave Franco-Ontarians the right to receive government services in French.

As a people of fight and celebration, we were going to celebrate with a song. Notre place was created in a spirit of joy, written by Paul Demers and composed by François Dubé in 1989 to celebrate Bill 8, the culmination of a decade of Franco-Ontarian triumphs.

This week, Notre place will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame during the 2023 Trille Or Gala in Ottawa, joining a Franco-Ontarian canon that includes Baie Sainte-Marie, Dimanche après-midi and Bleu et blanc, lending further importance to greater to the official anthem of Franco-Ontarians.

As a political gesture, Our Place would be inspired by poetry.

“We had our language in our pockets, our pockets had holes,” wrote the Franco-Ontarian poet and playwright Jean-Marc Dalpé. From Fauquier to Pointe-aux-Roches, from North Bay to Lafontaine, Notre place affirmed that we no longer had to silence our language.

Inspired by the activism of the French-speaking enclave of Orléans, Paul Demers would write: “To put the accents where they need to be, you have to get up,” a nod to the Ottawa suburb that requested that the name of the city incorporates an acute accent on the “e” of Orléans in 1989.

Affirmation of Franco-Ontarian identity, Our Place tells us through our accents, those which punctuate our prose and our poetry, of course, but also those which mark the melody of French as it is spoken in French Ontario.

During its first performance in 1989, Notre place brought together French-Canadian artists, including François Dubé and Robert Paquette – born in Ontario, Paul Demers – born in Quebec and Hart-Rouge – a brother-sister trio born in Saskatchewan, a testament to the unique rolling R accents and crushed vowels with which each of these French-speaking communities speak French across our distant geographies.

In 2017, the year the song became the official anthem of Franco-Ontarians, artists Kenan Belzner and DJ UNPIER reimagined the cult classic with the blessing of François Dubé. Vocalists Julie Kim, born in Beauharnois, Quebec, and Le R Premier, born in Djougou, Benin, were going to sing Our Place together, the magnificent contrast of their accents emblematic of our emerging cultural mosaic.

While the official anthem of Franco-Ontarians is inducted into the Pantheon of Canadian Authors and Composers, it will be sung by the artist Mehdi Cayenne, born in Algeria and raised in New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario.

“The initial version is grandiose,” he told ONFR . “I’d like to deliver it in a very stripped-down, very refined way. Really highlight the beauty and clarity of the vocal line and the text […] so that we can all sing it together. »

A manifestation of resistance, the official anthem of French Ontario is a formidable call for survival, for our accents, emblems of a distinct pluralist community. A community that fights “to put accents where they need to be” through our fundamental linguistic rights.

Our place is an affirmation that we have existed for a long time in Ontario. That we are still here. That the crescendo of our voice – with echoes of English and Dioula, Cree and Creole, Arabic and Amazigh – will resonate for generations to come.