FESFO exists to ensure that Franco-Ontarian youth can fully participate in the development of their community. To bring forth this mission, FESFO wants to allow young people to:
- Discover their personality;
- Understand the place they need to take in their environment to better identify, evaluate and improve it;
- Live out positive, affirming experiences in French with other young people to become more open to the world;
- Understand the role they need to play as Francophones in their community;
- Take a stance as Franco-Ontarians so they can position themselves and act assertively as Francophones.
To articulate this mission, FESFO intervenes in such a manner that:
- the interests and opinions of young people are defended before decision-makers;
- opportunities for training, meeting and facilitating are provided for its members.
What Is FESFO?
Young People in Action! In French! In Ontario!
The Fédération de la jeunesse franco-ontarienne (FESFO) was founded in 1975 by young people who wanted to ensure that Franco-Ontarian youth would fully participate in the development of their community.
First named the Franco-Ontarian High School Student Federation, FESFO became the “youth” federation in order to create stronger links between schools and communities.
FESFO is the organization that represents and speaks for the 25,000 Francophone youths who attend one of Ontario’s 97 Francophone high schools. Led by the Youth Board, a provincial youth assembly elected during the Annual General Meeting (AGM), FESFO informs, raises awareness and rallies thousands of young people so that their voices and their needs can be heard by the different decision-making bodies.
Each year, thousands of leaders participate in various training seminars and activities facilitated by FESFO. In 2007 and 2008 respectively, there were 2,077 and 5,997 of these participants. Many of FESFO’s activities’ goals are to allow young people to discover Franco-Ontarian identity, fight assimilation and give out tools for success to these young leaders all across Ontario.
Amongst the most popular activities, we have the Franco-Ontarian Leadership Seminar (Stage franco-ontarien de formation en leadership), the regional Forums: Your Region, Your Impact! (Les Forums : ta région, ton impact !) and the Franco-Ontarian Games (Jeux franco-ontariens).
FESFO’s expertise in community development is recognized and used by important partners like the Ontario Ministry of Education, the United Nations Association in Canada, Canadian Heritage and the Trillium Foundation. With this momentum in programming, FESFO is self-financed by the sale of its facilitation services as well as by donations and partnerships from almost 250 financial partners like the network of Richelieu Clubs of Ontario, the network of Caisses populaires, the network of postsecondary education institutions and the twelve French language school boards of the province.
FESFO plays an important role as an incubator for future leaders of the Franco-Ontarian community. A great number of past participants now work as part of various Franco-Ontarian forces like TFO, the Franco-Ontarian Festival, the Nuit sur l’Étang Festival and throughout the school network. Other past participants who are now recognized on the international stage (Cirque du Soleil, music industry) proudly credit the rise of their talent, self-esteem and pride to FESFO. Those young people who have the chance to experience these positive and remarkable activities discover the whole sense of FESFO’s motto:
“We want it, we can do it, we unite… We’ll get it! (On veut, on peut, on s’unit… On l’aura !)”
FESFO is led by youth for youth with the help of 188 contacts in schools and youth organizations who are members of the Federation. The Youth Board is responsible for identifying priorities in tasks and activities to ensure the employees of FESFO respect the organization’s mission statement.
FESFO defends its members’ rights as students, young people and Franco-Ontarians by sitting on different ministerial committees (e.g. the Consulting Committee of the Ontario Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities), by organizing campaigns and by speaking on behalf of its members. FESFO regularly consults its young members through the use of questionnaires, consultative tours and large-scale group activities. For example, more than 10,000 of its members expressed their needs and opinions at the Royal Commission on Learning.
FESFO has been training leaders for more than thirty years through the Franco-Ontarian Leadership Seminar, through various on-demand workshops, through the Forums: Your Region, Your Impact! and other special projects. Every year, two thousand young people attend at least one weekend of training in French with FESFO.
FESFO Speaks for Franco-Ontarian Youth
FESFO is the spokes-organization for young people. Three levels of representation decide the priority that is allotted for each political dossier: student, young people and Franco-Ontarian representation.
At its last AGM, 92 delegates from forty schools gathered to guide the work and positions of the organization, to elect the Youth Board and to learn how to get more involved with FESFO.
To be a more efficient spokes-organization and political educator, FESFO doesn’t only work with its “official” partners and networks. FESFO consults all members by making them a part of the organization in a three-fold manner.
FESFO Massively Consults Young People
- Each year, FESFO compiles information about the opinions and needs of young people. The means used to collect this information are a massive survey (generally once every four years), evaluation forms (8,000 to 10,000 annually) as well as various surveys on specific questions throughout the year.
- FESFO facilitates youth consultation forums through the Forums: Your Region, Your Impact!, through the AGM and through the Franco-Ontarian Leadership Seminar. This way, around 1,000 leaders and spokespersons can shape the FESFO’s positions.
FESFO Raises Young People’s Awareness
- Depending on established partnerships, the Federation organises activities to raise awareness on ecology, healthy relationships, cultural diversity, etc.
- FESFO also organizes promotional campaigns on social and political issues (e.g. radio PSA on the subject of violence against young women or on issues related to Bill 160).
FESFO Rallies Young People
- By means of petitions and pressure campaigns (e.g. campaign for school management in 1995-1996; support campaign for TFO in 1997; campaign to collect construction materials and send out 12,000 faxes to Prime Ministers Mulroney and Rae to obtain Francophone colleges in 1992).
- By organizing rallies and protests (e.g. information campaign, human chain and rallying for SOS Montfort in 1997; rallies and presentations pertaining to Bill 160; eleven protests for colleges in 1992).
- By organizing delegations and presentations (e.g. 28 Franco-Ontarian high school student presentations at the Royal Commission on Learning in 1993; Queen’s Park committees like the one pertaining to education and cultural facilitation).
Culturally, there is nothing better than facilitating meetings between young people from everywhere in the province to encourage exchange and collaborations.
This is why FESFO organizes regional and provincial activities that are well-known for being a priority in schools. These are usually the activities that leave a mark on young people and that are then discussed amongst these young people and in the media.