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Francophone festival presents fun for all at Smithers ski hill

Franco-fun Ski Day is March 4
The Association des Francophones et Francophiles du Nord-Ouest (AFFNO) volunteers serve fan-favourite maple taffy on the snow by donation at the Franco-fun Ski Day on Hudson Bay Mountain March 4. (Patrick Witwicki photo)

Skiers and snowboarders had a chance to indulge in a sweet, traditional French treat at Hudson Bay Mountain Ski Resort for Franco-fun Ski Day on March 4.

The Association des Francophones et Francophiles du Nord-Ouest (AFFNO) served fan-favourite maple taffy on the snow, by donation at the event while the traditional carnaval mascot Bonhomme de neige entertained and posed for photos with skiers and boarders.

Later in the afternoon Will Stroet and his band peformed a live show at the Whiskey Jack Lounge.

Stroet is a children’s entertainer but plays all types of music and is a blast for everyone, said Patrick Witwicki, executive director of AFFNO.

He sings in both French and English and was nominated for a JUNO in 2017.

He stopped by Hudson Bay Mountain for the Franco-fun Day in what was the last show of a tour, which also saw them play at École la Grande-Ourse.

AFFNO’s mission is to unite French-speakers and French-lovers in B.C.’s northwest in order to promote the French language and culture.

The Franco-fun Ski Day is one way the group hopes to connect with residents of the Bulkley Valley.

“… coming out of the pandemic, we lost a bit of contact with former members and we’ve probably missed families that have moved, not just to Smithers but the northwest in general,” Witwicki said.

“So events like this festival give us the opportunity to get our name out there and reconnect. So people know there is someone [they] can call if [they] need help with French.”

Witwicki was more than pleased with the event.

“It was the busiest ever, lots of smiles both parents and kids, even staff!” he said.

A few years ago, AFFNO worked with a group of parents in Smithers to start a Francophone school in the community, currently housed in a temporary location.

Recently, the school got a huge boost when the provincial government announced it had bought the old Chandler Park Middle School site for a permanent French school.

 Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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Carnaval mascot Bonhomme de neige poses with fans at the Franco-fun Ski Day on Hudson Bay Mountain March 4. (Patrick Witwicki photo)