September, 2012 browsing by month


#616 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #41. Labors Last Day?

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

UPDATE Tues Sep 4: This long post, Just Above Sunset, entitled “Another Labored Day”, pretty well describes the tension existing on this Labor Day, Sep 3, 2012.

click on photos to enlarge them

An annual tradition at the Minnesota State Fair: the free photo calendar at the Education Minnesota booth.

Last Friday I was at a very stimulating conversation about the future of my teacher’s union: the one for whom I worked full-time for 27 years, representing public school teachers.

One of the group, a retired teacher from a metropolitan area suburb who still substitutes regularly in his old school district told of a conversation he had with a young teacher who thought unions and work rules like contracts were no longer relevant. The youngster had better use of his money than to pay union dues. Unions only got in the way.

His wise colleague, who had had a great part in making a decent contract and working conditions for the young teacher, thought a bit and responded.

“Everything looks great for you now”, he said. “Try to think out 20 years, when your career is well along, and one year things aren’t going quite so well. There’s no union any more, and no rights such as you now have under law and contract. Your Principal calls you in and says ‘ sorry, we don’t need you any more. We have somebody who’ll cost less and is fresher than you are’. And there you are, fired at a most vulnerable time in your own life. What will you think then?”

Our conversation continued.

There was no closure on how the young teacher responded. There didn’t have to be. It is a common scenario.

The siren song of “I/Me/Now” easily trumps “We/Long Term” today. I see this shortsighted individualism in many quarters, in many ways.

The campaign to demonize unions has been successful. It’s been going on for years. Newt Gingrich memorialized it in his 100 words GOPAC literature in 1996, but destruction by use of code words preceded him, and is very much alive and well today.

(Newt’s list actually lists 128 labeling words, 64 that are good words, 64 that are evil. One of the evil words is “unionized”.)

The same week of the conversation came a Republican Party mailer inveighing against the local Democratic candidate and made four false and demonizing assertions, two of which were as follows:
Putting teacher unions before kids by blocking common sense solutions to improve our children’s education.”
Mandating that workers and small businesses, even in-home child care providers, become union members and pay costly union dues.”


Saturday, I walked by a booth at the State Fair which claims to put children first, but whose main objective is destruction of any union rights. At the end of this month this bunch says it is going to roll out a well financed movie presumably advancing its claims.

I haven’t lost hope. I care a great deal especially since we have many grand kids in Minnesota public schools.

But it is the youthful employees who think they don’t need a union who’ll have to rethink their self-righteous arrogance. Failure to do so will have big consequences for them.

They are the one who’ll wonder, in 20 years, why they were fired, and why they had no recourse.

And nobody – not teachers, not administrators, not students, not parents, not taxpayers, not business – will benefit by the destruction of labor unions.

A conversation about the future, August 31, 2012

#615 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #40. Four years after Peace Island

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Today, September 2, 2012, is the fourth anniversary of the first day of Peace Island, “Hope in a Time of Crisis, A Solutions-Driven Conference”. Peace Island was a remarkable and exhausting Tuesday and Wednesday running at the same time as the Republican National Convention just two or three miles down the road in downtown St. Paul, September 2-4, 2008.

Earlier today, I received word that my committee colleague who helped organize that Conference, Verlyn Smith, passed away on Friday, August 31, 2012. Susu Jeffrey, who originated the idea of Peace Island, commented “Oh, the loss! What I liked so much about Verlyn is…just himself, this large, gentle presence with the thoughtful, often humorous, comments.”


Verlyn’s memorial service will be next Sunday, Sept. 9, at 3 p.m. at Grace University Lutheran Church, 324 Harvard St., Minneapolis 55414. He was a retired Lutheran Pastor and his last call was at Grace Lutheran. Here’s the only photo I have of him at the Peace Island Conference. He’s the man seated at the right. (click to enlarge a bit)

Verlyn Smith (at right) Sep. 3, 2008 at Peace Island. Speaking is Ray McGovern, in background is Coleen Rowley.

Peace Island was a rather remarkable event. In the end a total of at least 23 speakers, mostly nationally known, addressed the audience in a half dozen plenary, and several other specific sessions. Several hundred people attended one or more of the sessions.

Peace Island was so peaceful that it attracted no interest from the news media, including the alternative media from the the progressive left who, to our knowledge, never did any reporting from or even about the event.

This wasn’t due to lack of effort on the Peace Island organizing committee’s part.

Our event was just too peaceful, apparently. It was boring from a news standpoint, in other words.

The action was down the street in St. Paul, inside and outside the Republican National Convention. Paradoxically, even those committed to peace and justice seem to revel in conflict.

Peace Island covered a great array of topics. Here is a five-page portion of the program booklet for Peace Island: Peace Island Sep 2-3 08001

Our committee quite literally wrestled with all aspects of the agenda for nearly two years before it convened. We were all volunteers. Visionary with the idea was Susu Jeffrey who, with Dennis Dillon, ultimately the chair, moved the idea forward.

Others on the committee included Dick Bernard, John and Marie Braun, Rebecca Janke, Ann Lewis, Bob Milner and Verlyn Smith. A couple of us, including Verlyn, were laid low with serious illness at one time or another.

The program was solely sponsored by the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP).

We early on decided that the conference would be solutions based. It is difficult to keep such a focus when there are so many problems, but the speakers generally did their best.

Perhaps the speaker with the greatest problems to confront ‘back home’ was Anne Hastings, Director of the Haitian microfinance group Fonkoze. During the summer and fall of 2008 four separate hurricanes hit Haiti causing immense disruptions and death and destruction in the tiny country. Fonkoze was a nationwide agency serving the needs of the poor, and its members severely hit. This was one and one-half years before the earthquake of January, 2010.

Anne Hastings, Joseph Schwartzberg and Bharat Parekh, Sep. 3, 2008

At demonstration on Labor Day 2008 in St. Paul MN

Massive police presence on the streets of St. Paul Labor Day 2008. Note policeman filming the protestors.

Concert at Peace Island Picnic Sep 4, 2012. This was separate from the Conference but a directly related event. In foreground is Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, Pete Seeger's grandson.

Preparing a giant peace sign to be photographed from above (it worked)

Completed peace sign can be seen here.

Gunboat on the Mississippi "protecting" RNC convention goers from peace island folks

In 2008, Peace Island was scheduled at the time of the Republican Convention in St. Paul.

Today, four years later, September 2 is between the Republican Convention (in Tampa last week) and Democratic Convention (in Charlotte, this week).

Problems continue and will continue so long as people are on this planet.

Working towards solutions should still be our objective, for the ultimate good of the planet earth.

Final Thought: Reports on events like this, including mine, are almost impossible to objectively report about. They are full of emotion from one side or another.

But there are other ‘sides’ to the story. When I was scanning the photo with the armed and dangerous police along the parade route, I got to thinking about a burly uniformed Ramsey County officer I was standing behind at the local coffee shop some months ago. I had noticed his shoes and we struck up a conversation about the kinds of shoes police personnel wear. The only thing I remember from the conversation was his comment that his feet hurt when he was on guard during the Republican National Convention….

Au-delà des murs (Beyond the Walls) – Resources for French-Canadians of the Midwest

Saturday, September 1st, 2012


Welcome! to a work in progress. While the French-American Heritage Foundation begins to take root, here is a portal to much information about French-Canadian heritage in the Midwest of the United States. Your comments/ideas/contributions of material welcome. E-mail dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom.


Above graphic courtesy of a great volunteer at Alliance Francaise. See page 43 of 2013 French Resource Directory.

(click to enlarge)

French-American Heritage Founding Board April 2013.  From left: Mary Ellen Weller; Christine Loys; Dr. Virgil Benoit; Marie Trepanier; Jon Tremblay; Bob Dietrick; Mike Durand; Mark Labine; Jerry Foley; Dick Bernard.  Also Board members: Pierre Girard; Rev. Jules Omalanga; Jane Peck

French-American Heritage Founding Board April 2013. From left: Mary Ellen Weller; Christine Loys; Dr. Virgil Benoit; Marie Trepanier; Jon Tremblay; Bob Dietrick; Mike Durand; Mark Labine; Jerry Foley; Dick Bernard. Also Board members: Pierre Girard; Rev. Jules Omalanga; Jane Peck; Francine Roche

CURRENT UPDATE September 1, 2013

NEW: 1. With many thanks to F-AHF Chair Mark Labine: This is worth a look. Musée virtuel de la Nouvelle France Content is also in French.

NEW 2. Merci to F-AHF Board Member Pierre Girard: I received this link and thought you might be interested in reading it-ESPECIALLY the comments at the end.

3. The French-American Heritage Foundation (F-AHF) is only three months old, but its leadership consists of diverse persons with a long history of activism in manners related to the French and francophone experience.

The Mission Statement: To promote and cultivate French-language cultures through education and public programming.
Purpose: “Why have an French-American Heritage foundation? Two words come to mind: Education and entertainment. We in Minnesota pride ourselves as being an educated, world-conscious people. This means we should know our past and be aware of other cultures and languages. Therefore, the foundation’s primary focus, at least to start, will be to put on a Franco-Fete in 2014 that will celebrate francophone history and heritage, entertainment, songs, stories, food and culture from all over the world, including French, French-Canadians, Acadian, Manitoban, Cajun, Metis, West-African, North African, Vietnamese and others.” (from brochure of F-AHF)

Tax deductible gifts for supporting membership (checks payable to French American Heritage Fund):
Supporting: $25.00
Sustaining: $100.00
Sponsor: $500.00
Mail to Jerry Foley, Treasurer, 4736 Coffey Lane Minneapolis 55406

Questions can be sent through Vice-President Dick Bernard, Please place FAHF in subject line.

4. UPDATE: Preview of in-preparation film about French in Minnesota, En Avant, is here, password Minneapolis. Nov. 18, 2012 Blogpost about this project is here. A program and fund-raiser for the film was held Friday, October 11: En Avant_Invite at the Ritz6. There was a very strong attendance, and the preview was shown.

Here is Gail Rosenblum’s column about the project in the September 28, 2012 Minneapolis Star Tribune.

5. Report on St. Jean-Baptiste Day event in Minneapolis June 24, 2013 here.

6. Excerpts from the book Maria Chapdelaine from Bill Horn: Maria Chapdelaine excerp001. (The book Maria Chapdelaine can be downloaded for free in both languages. Click here.)


QUEBEC’s own Francine Roche, with Mark Skillman, can be heard here on Garrison Keillors Prairie Home Companion program from Des Moines IA Nov. 7, 2009. Francine and Mark perform three songs on this program.
Francine and Mark perform regularly at two venues in Minneapolis:
Check with venues for performance information.
Eagles #34 at 2507 E 25th south Minneapolis 612-724-9714 .
Honey a block from Our Lady of Lourdes in northeast Minneapolis. 205 E. Hennepin, 612-746-0306. Call or check calendar for next performance date.

Francine Roche (center) with Cathy Bernard (left) at Canada Day fete at the Consul Generals home June 26, 2013

Francine Roche (center) with Cathy Bernard (left) at Canada Day fete at the Consul Generals home June 26, 2013

Among many activities, La Societe C-F began a radio presence, Moi et L’autre (Me and the Other), at tiny KFAI-FM in 1982, due to the energy of members Francine Roche and Carmelle Pommepuy. Here is a half hour from a mid-November, 1982, program.


Thoughts about Minneapolis’ first Franco-Fete September 28-30, 2012 can be found here. The entire program for Franco-Fete remains archived here. Scroll down to near end of page.

This new page (initiated September 1, 2012) is intended as an entrance portal to resources primarily provided by individuals with French-Canadian background, particularly in the middle west.

If you have a family website, or resources you feel would be of interest to Midwest French-Canadians, feel free to submit them in a fashion ready to post on this website. Send information to dick_bernardATmeDOTcom. Explanatory text should be brief, more or less similar to what you see below. Your intro should give the reader an idea what your link is about.

INITIATIVES IN FRENCH MIDWEST is a site which gives the latest information on Franco-Fêtes and other programs directed by IFMidwest for students, teachers, and general public in the Midwest. Copies of past issues of the organization’s magazine are also found on the site, map locating French-Canadian and Metis communities in North Dakota and the Minnesota Red River Valley, photos from past events, and a list of material contained in the IFMidwest archives in the Chester Fritz Library at the University of North Dakota.


This website, OUTSIDETHEWALLS.ORG, while it includes writing on numerous topics, has an increasing collection of posts relating to French-Canadian and Quebec topics. Best entree point is the post for July 23, which is here. At the end of the July 23 post are references to the numerous blog items written on this topic.

CHEZ-NOUS.NET is a family site initiated by Dick Bernard in 2002.
The first page identifies a number of items which may well be of interest to the casual reader including:
1. The 1981 Centennial Book of Sacred Heart Church, Oakwood ND (85 pages)
2. A 2003 compilation by Dr. Remi Roy about his family, which includes a fascinating look at early settlement of lower Canada south of the St. Lawrence. (34 pages of text plus genealogy)
3. A brief history of La Societe Canadienne Francaise du Minnesota including a short description of John Rivard
4. Comments by retired Catholic Bishop Raymond Lessard on his visit to Ste Anne de Beaupre circa 1975.
5. Access to the website for Ste. Elisabeth MB (east of Morris MB, and an old French-Canadian parish)
6. A brief history, from 2002, of the Collette family (about 20 pages) This history was refined and much expanded in the 2010 400 Years book referenced at this same page.


The Durand Heritage Foundation was founded in 1998 with a stated mission to “preserve our family heritage.” Since then, the foundation’s quarterly newsletters have featured informative and entertaining historical articles on the individuals, families and events that shaped the Durand family heritage. The Durand Heritage Foundation maintains an extensive, online family tree database of over 16,000 names that trace the Durand family records back to 1636 in Doeuil-sur-le-Mignon, St. Onge, France. With the arrival Jean Durand dit La Fortune on the shores of New France (Canada )in 1657 and his subsequent marriage to a young Huron woman, Catherine Anenontha, the rich and long history of the Durand family thus began. The regularly updated database continues to expand to include newly discovered family “branches.”

The Durand Heritage Foundation’s volunteer board of directors meet once or twice a year to plan the publication of articles, books, website content , and the organization of its annual scholarship fundraising bike ride called the JohnnyRide. To date, the foundation’s JohnnyRide scholarship program has awarded over $10,000 to some 25 students from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Colorado, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Washington.


Jane Peck , dance historian, teacher, and choreographer, does performances and classes on French-Canadian and Metis dance, theater, art, and culture. She and her ensemble, Dance Revels Moving History, have toured their show and workshops, A Voyageur’s Tale, to public schools, colleges, festivals, and museums in the Upper Midwest and central Canada since 1995. More info here. Jane has studied dances and arts of these cultures in France, Montreal, Turtle Mt. Reservation, and with Quebecois artists since 1991.

In 2011 Dance Revels and Jane mounted an extensive new show on mixed blood and Metis life in the Upper Midwest seen through the life of Metis pioneer guide Pierre Bottineau. The show, Bottineau Jig; Untold Tales of Early Minnesota, played to very diverse and sold-out audiences. We hope to remount the show for touring in other parts of the Upper Midwest in 2013. See here and here.

Contact Jane for performances and teaching on these topics at

TOUTCANADIEN is where you come to learn CANADIAN FRENCH (or Quebec French or North-American French, whatever you choose to call it) as an entire language, not just phrases or expressions, not just words with the little italicized “(Canada)” after them as found in most dictionaries, but AS AN ENTIRE LANGUAGE.

The mission of this site is to become the most complete on-line resource for the acquisition or the reacquisition of the North-American French Language. This mission is especially dedicated to all Franco-Americans who have lost their heritage language.


From 1985 through 2002 Dr. Virgil Benoit and Marie-Reine Mikesell collaborated on an annual French in America calendar.

At his website, John Fisher has 234 JPGs of the photographs and their descriptions, plus additional materials. This is a fascinating collection of French in America history.

OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS (in order of receipt):

(including Index for Chez Nous and Nouvelles Villes Jumelles)
added Sep 1, 2012

LSCF was a gathering organization for Twin Cities and Midwest French-Canadians from 1979-2002. Here is a 21 page document including the history of LSCF, and a complete index of the organizations newsletters: LaSociete1979-2001V#5

La Societe’s Founding Documents from 1979: LSCF Founding Documents001

Among many activities, La Societe C-F began a radio presence, Moi et L’autre (Me and the Other), at tiny KFAI-FM in 1982, due to the energy of members Francine Roche and Carmelle Pommepuy. Here is a half hour from a mid-November, 1982, program. Francine and Carmelle ultimately left for other things, Lucille Ingram, Gabe Brusseau and possibly others filled in, and ultimately the slot for the program became, and continues to be, Bonjour Minnesota, first hosted by Georgette Pfannkuch, then with Caryl Minetti, now with Caryl Minetti and Olaf Pfannkuch (Georgette passed away in 2008). KFAI-FM continues and now broadcasts live also by internet. Here is a recent program with conversation about Franco-Fete, and an upcoming film being produced about French in the Midwest. Listen to the Sep 11, 2012 program. The program airs each Tuesday night from 8-10 p.m. CDT

John Rivard and Betty (Morency) Hudelson, Nov. 1985, L'Heritage Tranquille, Minneapolis MN

(click on photo to enlarge). The event at which this photo was taken, L’Heritage Tranquille in November, 1985, was a very successful event, sponsored by Concordia Language Villages and coordinated by Dr. Virgil Benoit. John Rivard, founder of La Societe Canadienne-Francaise, was a presenter; Betty (Morency) Hudelson, from Hibbing and the Iron Range chapter, grew up in Cohasset, and her Morency roots were in Ste Famille on Ile d’Orleans. Betty passed away of cancer two years later, in 1987, not yet 60.

Here is an 1888 letter to the editor (originally in French) in the French language newspaper of St. Paul, Le Canadien:C-F comment 1888001

Posted here is a November, 1989 article, in Nouvelle Villes Jumelles, about early French-Canadian and other settlement in early Minnesota: Early MN Terr Settlers001

Here is a December, 1989, article in Nouvelles Villes Jumelles about earlier Minnesota French-Canadian organizations and institutions: Fr-Canad Les Racines001

Art of rural folk in old Quebec by MASSICOTTE, Edmond-Joseph, Artist, Montreal, 1875-1929 added Sep 1, 2012

Massicotte was a prolific artist whose fame lies with 17 paintings, the first dozen originally published in 1923, whose title was Nos Canadiens d’autrefois; another five intended for a second volume published after his death. In the mid-1990s, Carmelle Pommepuy, one of the original members of La Societe Canadienne-Francaise du Minnesota, sent Dick Bernard photo copies of the 17 paintings, which are attached in two groups (there is no significance to the grouping). The paintings evoke the feelings of life in rural Quebec, which was doubtless replicated by immigrants to rural life in the Midwest.
Great thanks to Carmelle, who passed away in 2003.
Massicotte Edm-Jos001 and Massicotte Edm-Jos 2001

Musings about being descended from French-Canadians
Sep 1, 2012

Born 1940, Dick had no particular interest in his roots until he was past 40, became active in matters French-Canadian including editing Chez Nous (above) for over 15 years. In early 2012 Dick decided to write down what he felt were some threads in his Middle West French-Canadian ancestry, shared these musings with a number of others of similar French-Canadian descent, and the results to date follow, along with some related materials.

Dick’s Musings:FrenchCanadianFirstThoughts
Descendants of French in United States per 1980 census (two pages): French descent 1980 cens001
General Timeline of French settlement of Quebec and later migration to Midwest: Quebec and Midwest Settlement Timeline
22 Jan 1730 Quebec Marriage Contract of Pierre Bernard and Marie Genevieve Giroux: QuebecMarrContr001
Enlistment document of Samuel Collette in the Minnesota Indian War of 1862-63:Samuel Collette Oct 62001
Territory included in the Treaty at Huot Old Crossing 1863-64 (Samuels relatives, the Collettes, migrated west about 1864 and were later direct beneficiaries of the Indian War and the Treaty at Huot Crossing:Old Crossing Treaty 1863001