Voyageur memes pour le fun

Instagram page creating community among francophones

@voyageurmemes is a Winnipeg-run Instagram page that posts relatable Franco-Manitoban content with voyageur flair.

“We felt there was a void that needed to be filled in terms of relatable online content,” the admins of the account (who requested they not be named due to the close-knit nature of the francophone community) say.

Nicolas Audette, marketing and communications manager with the Festival du Voyageur, agrees with the sentiment. He says the page is relevant to any francophone in Manitoba and brings together people who participate in Festival du Voyageur.

“People can really relate (if they have) grown up as a member of the community, going to Festival and celebrating the voyageur culture,” he says.

The memes posted by @voyageurmemes reference key elements of francophone culture, such as the song "Rame, rame."

The administrators explain that their experiences growing up with lots of exposure to Franco-Manitoban and Métis culture (and the traditions that are carried over into adulthood) are integral to the page.

“Voyageur/Métis history is super present in Franco-Manitoban history, and we feel really connected to that culture and our history. It’s important to us that our content reflects just that,” the admins say.

The meme page relies heavily on “Franglais” in their jokes (a mashup of French and English). The admins explain that the prevalence of this interesting linguistic development is due to the reality of a francophone minority existing in a largely anglophone city, where media and events mostly occur in English.

“We think it’s such a cool linguistic development. Adding ‘er’ or ‘é’ to the end of an English word to make it French is so hilarious and common and a fun way to experiment with language,” they say. Adding “er” or “é” will turn an English noun into a verb.

Audette agrees that this aspect of the language is especially relatable to millenials, who are exposed to more anglophone media via the internet than their predecessors might have been. He adds that it also captures a larger audience, who might understand some French but not all.

Audette explains that Franglais reflects a core aspect of a Franco-Manitoban reality.

“Twelve-plus years of French education has drilled in us that written French is always proper and perfect, which isn’t reflective of how actual French people speak!” the admins say.

On occasion, the memes will poke fun at anglophones partaking in francophone culture. The admins of the page stress that this is done in good spirit.

“With the rise in popularity that Festival has gained, it’s the one big event that everyone knows no matter where you’re from or what language you speak,” they explain. “We like to shoot a little banter here and there, but we have nothing against anyone when it comes down to it.”

Audette agrees that it’s important to be able to be humorous about serious subjects and to be able to laugh at yourself. He says that the platform of Instagram and the meme media is ideal for this type humour.

“It’s something that brings us together and allows us to just have fun and poke fun at each other or at ourselves,” he says.

Although the Franco-Manitoban culture is tight-knit, the admins say that their generation is inclusive and forward-facing.

“Our message is that we should be able to do so while poking light fun at ourselves, while still appreciating and respecting our heritage. Hé Ho!” they say.

Check out the page on Instagram @voyageurmemes

Published in Volume 72, Number 17 of The Uniter (February 8, 2018)

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