The Cities of Lewiston and Auburn were officially accepted for membership in the Réseau des Villes Francophone et Francophiles d’Amérique (Francophone and Francophile Cities Network of America) at a ceremony held at the Dolard and Priscilla Gendron Franco Center recently during “La Semaine de la Francophonie” (Francophone Week) festivities.
The announcement was made by Elaine Roop, Franco Center board president, and Jacynthe Blais Jacques, director of Cultural and Language Programs at the Center and a board member for the Franco-American Collection at USM’s L-A College. A local organizing committee, which included staff and volunteers from the Franco Center, the mayors and administrators from both cities, the Franco-American Collection, the L-A Metro Chamber of Commerce, the L-A Economic Growth Council, librarians from Lewiston and Auburn and others, initiated the process for the twin cities to join RVFFA.
The purpose of RVFFA, made up of nearly 100 cities from across North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, is to promote the value, richness, and vitality of francophone heritage, to value and showcase francophone and francophile cultural communities like Lewiston and Auburn, to develop economic and strategic alliances throughout the network, and to promote member cities’ tourist attractions on the international scene.
By creating this network, the mayors of Québec, Lafayette, Louisiana and Moncton, New Brunswick hope to spur and support the accomplishments of francophone communities and encourage their fellow mayors to follow suit. Both Lewiston Mayor Robert E. Macdonald and Auburn Mayor Jonathan P. LaBonté signed the letter officially requesting membership in RVFFA.
“We are very excited to lead the charge to join RVFFA, and we look forward to all that our membership will do for our two great cities,” said Mitchell Clyde Thomas, executive director of the Gendron Franco Center. One of the Network’s first initiatives will be to create tourist circuits that link member cities. These circuits will encourage tourists to plan trips to cities with ties to French heritage.