HARTFORD, Conn. – More than 600 people gathered Tuesday at the State Capitol for Connecticut’s first-ever French Canadian Day, a celebration of French-Canadian culture hosted by state Sen. Gary Lebeau and Rep. Russell Morin.
It took seven years to get the legislature to pass a bill officially declaring June 24 to be French Canadian Day, but it passed last year and, according to LeBeau, made Connecticut the first state in America to officially recognize French-Canadian heritage.
“It’s all about recognizing the contributions of French-Canadian people in the United States and Connecticut,” Lebeau said. “They’re an essential component. It’s an immigrant group that’s kind of been overlooked, because of the timing of the waves of immigration that came from Canada.”
According to Lebeau, who originally proposed the legislation, the bill could have been passed seven years ago had it not encountered such opposition along the way.
“This was not an easy task. We didn’t expect it to go through the first year, but we never expected it to take this long. There was opposition in certain quarters to doing any more [official heritage] days. My argument was, if you’ve already recognized everybody else, why not recognize us?”