Colin Champagne: Serving my Community!

Colin Champagne, graduate of Bachelor of Arts, always distinguished himself both by his passion and commitment for the French-speaking community of Alberta. Young man of conviction and action, he is proof that we must not let doubt and questioning become obstacles to our success.

Emilie Pelletier - 20 June 2016

"I have never really given up on anything before; I was afraid to disappoint people if I changed my school program. My father told me: 'You know Colin you do not have to be a bull rider to stay in the rodeo.' This statement helped me to trust my decision."

As a young man eager to give his best for the well-being of his community, Champagne Colin soon found, in the fall of 2011, his first academic year, that engineering was not his call. "I quickly realized that I did not want to become an engineer," he exclaims.

Concerned about the world he lives in, he decided to change from engineering to political science. "I was interested in federal and local politics; consequently, I choose to study political sciences," says the Franco-Albertan.

Taking pride in speaking French

A native of Saint Paul from French speaking parents, Colin has always felt the importance of French language in his life. "My parents and grandparents taught me how important it was for me to speak French," he says.

It is obvious why this young man was very active in the Saint Paul regional ACFA, where for five years he was member of "Francophonie jeunesse de l'Alberta", and in the Students' Union where he was elected as representative by his peers for a four year mandate. Colin was also president, during the 2015-2016 academic year, of the students' association of CSJ called Association des Universitaires de la Faculté Saint-Jean (AUFSJ).

Personally, one of his greatest moments of satisfaction occurred in the spring of 2015 when a group of students from CSJ initiated a policy project to be presented, debated and adopted by the members of the Students' Union for bilingual services in the University of Alberta main campus.

Champagne Colin explains that unlike the University of Ottawa or the University of Moncton, the University of Alberta is not bilingual, even though it has a Francophone component, which is Campus Saint -Jean. We can note the fact that for some programs, there are no prerequisites in English. This implies that some students do not always have the level of academic English necessary to function in everyday life. "This makes it difficult when these students want to apply for grants, or when they want to communicate with the University of Alberta," says Colin.

The desire for a better linguistic accessibility for all on an equal level proved fruitful. Persistent efforts have led to concrete results: a policy was adopted for more bilingual services within the Students' Union, including awards and scholarships. In addition, the policy ensures that the student association takes action to pursue similar changes in the University's administration.

"It is impossible to be a topnotch Canadian university without offering training in both Official Languages," Colin Champagne underlines, highlighting at the same time the unique role of Campus Saint-Jean within the University of Alberta.

Another project he is particularly proud of is the changing of the mural at the Grandin LRT station. This mural was created in 1990 in honour of Father Vital Grandin, an Oblate priest, partly responsible for the European presence in Western Canada. However, for Aboriginal and Métis communities, this creation was a painful reminder of colonialism.

Francophonie jeunesse de l'Alberta (FJA) as commissioner of this work had some of its members included in the reconciliation process. At that time, Colin Champagne was a member of the FJA board. "The artist (Sylvie Nadeau) who created the first wall collaborated with Alberta Métis artist (Aaron Paquette) to improve the wall without destroying it, since it's still a part of our history," Colin says.

Collin said he was touched to see the First Nations present at the unveiling of the new work in March 2014. "You could feel that a weight was lifted off their heart- a feeling of freedom," he says.

An uncommon passion

"I must confess, I am passionate about parliamentary simulations," Colin Champagne admits.

In total, he has participated in about twenty youth parliaments to date. He played several roles in the cabinet of the Youth Parliament of Alberta (YAP), where he was Prime Minister in 2013; in the Franco-Canadian Parliament of North and West (PFCNO), and the Parliament Jeunesse Pancanadien (PJP). Colin Champagne also had the chance to be on the organizing committee of the Simulation parlementaire européenne Canada-Québec-Europe (SPECQUE) when it took place in Edmonton from August 3 to 10 of 2014.

Passionate about film documentary, this amateur filmmaker qualified for the semi-finals of the Tremplin competition of the National Film Board of Canada. "My idea was to break the stereotype that the Canadian youth is disengaged and to reveal that many young people are becoming actively involved in politics," he says.

To link these two passions, he proposed a documentary featuring a young Edmontonian who was participating in the PFCNO, his first ever parliamentary simulation. According to the documentary, this simulation is interesting because of the existing cultural dynamics. "For some, this is the first time they meet Francophones who do not come from their localities. Seeing this, they realize they are not so different," says Colin, who also produced stories that were broadcast on TFO.

CSJ: Endless memories

When he was free, the young man had the opportunity to play for the Centurions hockey team. During his first year at Saint-Jean, he also had the chance to play in the very first "Classique Héritage", the outdoor hockey game pitting students against the alumni.

"I think it's one of the ideal events to bring students and alumni together as a family," Colin said. Talking about playing as a family, it is not only literally but real! His father is a former player of the CSJ team, formerly known as Frontenac club. "I played against my father, and it was very special," recalls the student.

Today, Colin Champagne is proud of what he has accomplished so far. Full of ideas and dreams, this young promising future still has many feats to achieve. Who knows, maybe a great film career is awaiting him thanks to the numerous opportunities that are coming his way! One thing Champagne Colin is sure of is that he will never cease to work for the Francophone community to ensure its sustainability and its growth.