Newsletter Vol. 10

Department of Languages Newsletter    Vol. 10 - Fall 2014

Introduction by the Chair of the Department of Languages

Image of Beatrice Vernier the Chair of the Department of Languages

As the Thanksgiving long weekend ends, we are reminded that half of the first semester is already gone and that Christmas will soon be at our door.
Since September we have all been very busy developing our Department in order to better serve our students. In fact this year we are offering two new literature courses at the third and fourth year levels: ‘‘Northern Ontario French Literature’’ and ‘‘Film and Literature’’, as well as a Mandarin language course at the beginner level (LANG 0500), the latter taught by Mr. Li Yu. Our Italian instructor, Mr. John Zussino, who taught the course ‘‘Italian for beginners’’ last winter, is back this year and he will teach this course again (ITAL 1030) in January 2015. These past three years the Department has also made an effort to open the French program to others in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, therefore this year, a proposal for a double Major in French and History has been completed.
Furthermore, in accordance with new regulations in the two Thunder Bay school boards for hiring French teachers, and in the Faculty of Education to get a certification in teaching French, we offer the possibility for students to have their French knowledge assessed. DELF exams, based on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) can be written once a year. In May we had eight candidates who wrote level B1 and B2, with seven successful students. These exams are important, as they give an accurate estimate of the level of language acquired by a learner and could facilitate hiring in many fields.
To our great satisfaction, every year an increasing number of students take the opportunity to study French in Quebec and in France in order to improve their French skills. These experiences are invaluable as they also bring to individuals a better understanding of French culture from different parts of the world. You can read their experiences further in this newsletter.
Two new professors of French have also joined our team in September and I am pleased to introduce them here. Dr. Julie Tennier, from Niagara Falls arrived from Brock University where she has taught literature and language courses for 10 years. Her area of research focuses on a well-known author from Ontario named Marguerite Andersen.  Dr. Molleen Shilliday, from British Columbia, has also acquired solid experience in French teaching at UBC and concentrates her research on the expression of WWII trauma in French literature.
Le Club français is also very active this year and now has a Facebook page where activities offered by the Club are posted, as well as information about exchanges in France or Quebec. This fall the Club has already organized two movie nights and a Wine and Cheese night in the Study Coffeee House where French teachers, Francophones, current students and alumni can meet and chat.
As busy as you are, have been or will be,
I wish you all a good academic year,
Les deseo un buen año académico,
Je vous souhaite une bonne année académique,
Toivotan Teille kaikille loistavaa kouluvuotta,  
Auguro a tutti un buon anno accademico.
Dr. Béatrice Vernier, Chair and Associate Professor
New Members join the Language Team
People walking down the street and playing violins.

Dr. Molleen Shilliday

My name is Molleen Shilliday and I have quite recently driven from the Point Grey Peninsula of UBC, Vancouver, across the prairies to the shores of Lake Superior, to join the Department of Languages at Lakehead University. I have lived in Guelph, Victoria, Halifax, Montbéliard, France and Vancouver and am thrilled to add Thunder Bay to the list. Before arriving in Thunder Bay, I taught French language and literature at UBC which is also where I completed my PhD in Contemporary French Literature in 2013. My area of specialization is the 20th and 21st century French novel. I am also interested in the Quebecois novel, Canadian literature, world literature and western philosophy.
I am currently teaching Women’s Literature from France (FREN 3517FA), Oral French Skills (FREN 1510FB) and Advanced French Grammar (FREN 2201YA). Next semester, I will continue teaching Oral French Skills and Advanced French Grammar, and begin a fourth-year Film and Literature class (FREN 4810WA). Thunder Bay has shown itself to be a beautiful, colorful city this autumn and I am thoroughly looking forward to getting out on my skis and snowshoes this winter! There is a real sense of community at Lakehead University and I am thrilled to be a part of it.

Image of Dr. Julie Tennier

Dr. Julie Tennier

My name is Julie Tennier. I am very pleased to join the Department of Languages this year to teach three courses (Elementary French – FREN 1000, Oral French – 1510FA and Advanced Oral French – FREN 2101). I grew up in Niagara Falls, in a francophone family, completed all of my education in French, and have always worked in the French community. I began my professional career in child care, eventually managing a French day care center for a number of years. This led to a career shift, when over twenty years ago, I began teaching early childhood education in French at Niagara College. I subsequently returned to school, to complete a B.A, an M.A. and, in 2013, a PhD in French Studies at the University of Toronto.
I have taught numerous French language and literature courses at Brock University for the past ten years, while going to school and raising a family. My doctoral thesis explores auto-fiction and the relationship between identity, memory and narrative in the novels of Marguerite Andersen, a prolific author who was born in Germany, now lives in Toronto and writes in French. This is my first time in Thunder Bay and every day, I am struck by the beautiful view of the lake, be it at the University from the ATAC building, in my neighborhood when I’m walking my dog or when I’m out running errands. There are quite interesting and unique restaurants, shops, cultural events and landmarks that I have only just begun to discover. I also look forward to finding ways to embrace the winter months, as have so many of the people that I have spoken to.

Image of Li Yu.

Mr. Liming Yu

I was born and raised in Shanghai, China.  I came to Thunder Bay in 2009 and joined the Department of Languages in September 2014. I am very much interested in teaching and learning Languages, as well as mathematics and science education. Currently I am managing Progressive Training College, a private career college in Thunder Bay, which specializes in adult second-career training.  I have a very diverse array of interests, one of which is photography. I also enjoy travelling, sailing in the summer, and ice-fishing in the winter.

Extra-curricular Activities

  • La Journée franco-ontarienne (25 septembre)

Like every September 25th the French section in the Department celebrates the Franco-Ontarian Day. Dr Julie Tennier comments : “Pour célébrer le Jour des Franco-Ontariens, nous avons étudié la chanson « Rentre pas trop tard » de Robert Paquette, un artiste qui a contribué à la prise de conscience identitaire franco-ontarienne dans le nord de l’Ontario au début des années 1970. Robert Paquette collabore avec bon nombre d’artistes francophones et cela depuis ses débuts. Il a composé la musique pour la pièce de théâtre Moé, j’viens du Nord, 'stie ! d’André Paiement et aussi, la musique pour la pièce de théâtre de Jean-Marc Dalpé, lauréat du prix du Gouverneur général, Le chien et quelques films pour l’ONF, en plus d’avoir produit plusieurs disques et fait de nombreuses tournées au Canada et ailleurs. Dans sa chanson Rentre pas trop tard, il se souvient avec nostalgie du commentaire que sa mère lui faisait lorsqu’il rejoignait ses amis pour jouer dehors après l’école, pendant l’hiver à Sudbury, son lieu natal. Il s’agit d’une image qui correspond à la réalité du grand nord et aussi aux souvenirs que bon nombre d’entre nous avons conservés de notre enfance.

Le début des années 1970 marque aussi l’arrivée en Ontario de Marguerite Andersen, auteure d’origine allemande qui vit à Toronto. Sa carrière littéraire est remarquable et son œuvre prolifique s’étend sur plus de trente ans. Cette auteure, octogénaire énergique qui se dit écrivaine franco-ontarienne, a obtenu plusieurs prix littéraires, les plus récents étant le prix Trillium et le prix Émile-Ollivier pour La mauvaise mère (2013). Dans mes classes, nous avons lu un court article qu’elle a écrit intitulé Tel père, tel fils ? Dans ce texte, elle se remémore sa relation avec son père, patriarche d’une famille de trois filles. Elle compare ensuite cette dynamique à la relation que ses fils à elle entretiennent avec leurs enfants. Son texte nous a permis de nous pencher sur les effets des transformations sociales et culturelles sur la famille et l’individu. Il y a de quoi s’identifier, réfléchir et s’inspirer dans l’œuvre franco-ontarienne ! ”

Mrs. Jeannette Mundinger-Hardy mentions that: “En laboratoire de langue, à partir d’une vidéo sur la Journée des Franco-Ontariens, les étudiants de 2ème année ont dû répondre à des questions de compréhension: Qui sont les Franco-Ontariens ? Depuis quand vivent-ils au Canada ? Quelle est la spécificité de cette communauté ? Quels sont les emblêmes et les couleurs figurant sur le drapeau ? Quelles en sont les significations ? Pourquoi fête-t-on la communauté franco-ontarienne le 25 septembre ? Ensuite, le groupe a discuté de l’importance de l’identité culturelle sur l’identité personnelle de chacun.”

The other colleagues in the Department also talked in class about the importance of celebrating La Journée franco-ontarienne.

Thank you to all who participated in this fantastic event!

  • Rencontre

Last semester Duncan Weller, a local artist, came to meet our third and fourth year class. The students had translated his second last book entitled “The Big Electric Cat” into French. This was an event enjoyed both by the author and the students. It was a great opportunity for the students to ask questions about writing and illustrating for a young audience.

Image of a local artist Duncan Weller on the left and a woman Brianna Davidson on the right.Duncan Weller and Brianna Davidson

Club français

Our Soirée Cinéma kicked off on September 22nd with “Les Profs”. This was very well attended in the Study Coffee House, our new venue for our films. The following day, it was the Italian group’s turn to come and watch “Benvenuti al Sud”, the Italian version of “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis”.

On October 21st, we presentend “French Immersion”, a Quebec film. It was well attended by LU students, but also by francophones and francofiles of Thunder Bay.

The French Club held its first annual Wine and Cheese event on the evening of October 2nd, 2014, in the Study Coffee House. President Anna MacMillan said: “La soirée du vin et fromage a eu un franc succès ! Merci à toutes et à tous d’être venus et d’avoir partagé ces bons moments ensemble !”

Four people sitting and standing around the Study coffee house enjoying wine and cheese.      Five people standing with the two people in the middle right giving the "thumbs up" sign.

Six women standing in a line with arms around each other.      Seven people standing in front of the coffee bar in the Study enjoying some wine.

Soirée vin et fromage

For those of you interested in learning to speak French, or enjoy the French culture, please join Anna every Tuesday from 2:30pm until 4:00pm for a Pause-Café in the Study Coffee House. You can contact Anna ( for more details!

Study in a Francophone Context

Several students wished to share with us their experience in a francophone environment.

 Ashley Agostino:         Cet été, j'ai fait le programme Explore pour la deuxième fois! Cette fois, j'ai eu l'occasion de rester dans la petite ville de Trois-Pistoles, au Québec. Mon séjour avec une famille d'accueil m'a donné la possibilité de pratiquer mon français chaque jour, tout en découvrant la culture et la nourriture québécoise. Celles et ceux qui souhaitent avoir l'occasion d'améliorer leur français, je vous recommande ce programme ! Si vous avez des questions, vous pouvez regarder leur site-web:”

Anna MacMillan:        “Je suis allée en France pendant l’été 2014 dans la ville d’Angers. J’étais immergée dans la culture et la langue française. J’ai visité les cafés où j’ai parlé français avec des Français et j’ai rendu visite à la famille de mon amie où j’ai mangé un dîner traditionnel. J’ai visité deux châteaux, le Château d’Angers et le Château de Brissac, que j’ai beaucoup aimés. Les châteaux de la Loire sont renommés partout dans le monde, car ils sont si beaux. J’ai passé deux semaines à Angers. Nous avons célébré la fête de la musique et nous avons regardé et encouragé l’équipe de France pour la Coupe du monde de football. Je conseille à tout le monde de faire un voyage en France parce que la culture française est magnifique et cela aide beaucoup avec l’apprentissage d’être immergé dans la langue.”

Italian Movie Nights

On Tuesday, October 28th, the Italian class viewed the comedy “Benvenuti al Nord” (2012). It was a great opportunity to relax, unwind, and laugh a bit at this sequel of the high-grossing film “Benvenuti al Sud, which portrayed beautiful Southern Italy. After “Benvenuti al Sud” (2010) shown in September, this gave spectators a chance to view the scenic landscapes of Northern Italy.


Monday, November 10th, 2014 (8:00-10:00pm)   French Film: Le casse–tête chinois” (Study Coffee House)

Tuesday, November 13th, 2014 (8:00-10:00pm)  Spanish Film: The skin I live in” (ATAC 2020)

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 (8:00-11:00pm) Cultural Night (Study Coffee House)

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 (7:00-9:00pm)    Italian Film: “Tutta colpa di Freud(Study Coffee House)  


Hope to see you all there!  Spero di vedervi tutti lì! Nous espérons vous accueillir nombreux !