British Columbia is rich with Francophone heritage and culture, and one of the most fulfilling things the SDE gets to do is contribute to sharing this unique heritage with not only our province’s people, but with people from all over the world. The SDE works with the government and industry partners to strengthen bilingualism in British Columbia through its tourism activities. By recruiting young people and immigrants, and facilitating workshops about careers in tourism, the society is raising awareness about this industry that is growing leaps and bounds in our province.
To showcase SDE’s work in promoting Francophone historic sites and Francophone businesses across the province, this month’s SDE logo has been re-coloured with the official Francophone colours. The inside of the “D” has been replaced with a simplified shape of the province, with three-dimensional shading added to emphasize the depth and richness of the tourism industry.
SDE encourages the community in B.C., as well as future immigrants and foreign tourists, to discover our province by developing programs and itineraries illustrating Francophone heritage and culture. With such a variety of regions, businesses, local food and drink, and B.C.’s most stunning natural attractions, it’s easy to promote the Francophone presence in our province!
Sharing Culture & Craft
It is a very exciting time for producers and artisans right now as society is trending towards a genuine interest in good quality, local, and authentic artisanal products. Through the Économusée® initiative, a growing international network with over 70 certified artisans spanning Canada and extending to Northern Europe, the SDE works as both catalyst and guide to promote economic growth in rural communities. This program allows artisans to open their workshops to the public so they can share their passion and knowledge of the process, and offer their products to sell. This exchange provides a unique opportunity to promote local culture and preserve heritage.
One particular Économusée® project that we’re especially proud of is the Economuseum tour that takes you on a journey from Victoria to Kelowna, across Vancouver Island and other parts of B.C. to meet artisans in their workshops. The explorer can savour outstanding honey wines surrounded by bees, plants and nature in the fascinating world of Tugwell Creek, watch the extraordinary throwing skills and innovative glazing techniques of renowned artist Mary Fox at her beautiful pottery gallery in Ladysmith, and discover the ancestral art of distillation at the Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm and watch the process of extraction of pure essential oils to create handmade natural products (to name just a few of the stops along the way).
The Adventures Don’t Stop There
The SDE has also been involved in the development of Francophone heritage and cultural tours in three different regions of B.C. Adventurers can explore around the Fraser River, in the Thompson Okanagan Region, or on Vancouver Island. These circuits let the tourist discover the rich history of successive generations and the current Francophonie and craftsmen of the area, all while taking in the natural beauty of the region.
Foodies, take note! If you fancy a culinary experience, there are also cultural and gourmet tours aimed at highlighting three regions of B.C., including the Vancouver coast and mountains, Vancouver Island, and the Okanagan Valley. Along the way, you’ll visit the producers, winemakers, restaurateurs and innkeepers, and get to taste the best of the region. You’ll also discover the local attractions that make each area unique. Many of the organizations and businesses on these circuits offer their services in French.
Additional Resources for Our French Visitors
B.C.’s bilingual tourist offering is growing and attracting a new clientele from domestic and international Francophone markets. The SDE surveys the province every year for new businesses and organizations offering services in French to provide a directory of tourist services for French visitors. To plan your trip, you can discover by region and activity more than 340 organizations and companies with services in French using this tool.
The Corridor is a select range of Francophone heritage, cultural and tourism products in Canada that offer visitor services in French. It’s a national network established by RDÉE Canada and its provincial and territorial member-organizations, including the SDE.
Developed by Heritage Branch, Heritage B.C. and the Francophone Affairs Program, the B.C. Francophone Cultural Tourism map is the province’s official recognition project for Francophone historic sites. As more British Columbians discover Francophones’ contributions to the province’s diversity, prosperity and heritage, the knowledge helps to build bridges between cultures and strengthens our sense of belonging to the community.