Former director of the Office Francophone Affairs inducted into the Order of La Pléiade
Dr. Jeanne Drouin, a former director of uOttawa Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Francophone Affairs received the grade of Knight (Chevalier) of Ontario’s Order of La Pléiade on March 19, 2018. This honorary award recognizes individuals selected by a non-partisan committee of parliamentarians for their outstanding contributions to the Ontario francophonie.
The Order of La Pléiade, honorary decoration of the French-speaking world
The Order of La Pléiade was created in 1976 by the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF), an association of 83 parliaments and interparliamentary organizations around the world. The award recognizes individuals who represent the basic values of the APF—protection of democracy, respect for the rule of law, respect for human rights, promotion of the French language around the world and cultural diversity.
The award recognizes individuals from diverse political, social, artistic and educational backgrounds for their dedication and commitment in their communities to the development of both the French language and the Francophonie.
A woman, a doctor and an educator, but above all—a Franco-Ontarian
Dr. Jeanne Drouin, who was director of the Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Francophone Affairs from 1997 to 2001, was born in Plantagenet, a small village about an hour from Ottawa. She was introduced to the Francophonie at an early age by her grandparents, as they told her how present the fight for the francophonie cause was in their lives. She soon learned just how difficult it was to live one’s life in French in Ontario and for her to get an education in French. She eventually completed her medical degree in English at the University of Ottawa and her residency in Toronto before coming back to Ottawa to become the only French-language hematologist at The Ottawa Hospital.
Increasingly aware of how difficult it was for francophones to have access to doctors who could treat them in their own language, without hesitation she embarked on an adventure that eventually led to the creation of the Office of Francophone Affairs and a French-language medical program at the University of Ottawa to fulfil a mandate from the Ontario government.
Dr. Drouin considered it essential to put her energy into developing a French-language curriculum, one that would incorporate new teaching methods and, in 1995, willingly put her research in hematology on the back burner. She worked tirelessly to defend the rights of francophone patients to be served in French and the wish of medical students in minority language communities across the country to be able to study in French and then practise medicine in francophone or bilingual communities.
Always one to follow her convictions, she stepped up to the plate when, in 1997, the Government of Ontario threatened to close Montfort Hospital, the only French-language teaching hospital in Ontario.
With resolve, steadfastness and wisdom, she worked tirelessly for the francophone cause, rolling up her sleeves and getting to work in the face of every challenge in order to raise awareness of the importance of the francophonie and the French language and to ensure the right to live, work and study in French.
Dr. Drouin sees her title of Knight of the Order of La Pléiade not so much as recognition of her lifetime's work but rather recognition of the hard work and accomplishments of the team at the Office of Francophone Affairs, which, beginning 23 years ago, created and promoted the French-language program at the Faculty of Medicine, raising its reputation and visibility as the only bilingual medical school in Canada.
Dr. Drouin was filled with emotion when she was presented with this award, but it’s with great pride that she shares it with each French-speaking person and francophile she has had the good fortune to meet along her journey for equal rights for francophones and during the fight she fought and continues to fight to assert these rights.