University Professor Emeritus Hédi Bouraoui honoured by French government

York’s University Professor Emeritus Hédi Bouraoui has been named Officier des Palmes Académiques by the French government. The honour was conferred on June 4, at a garden party reception at the residence of the Consul General of France in Toronto. Consul General Hugues Goisbault made the presentation. The Canadian government recognized the award in the form of a letter of congratulations from the Office of the Governor General. There will be an official announcement published in the Canada Gazette.


Above: From left, Hédi Bouraoui with Consul General of France in Toronto Hugues Goisbault

The consul general also presented Bouraoui with a second award, the Emmanuel Roblès International Poetry Award. The text read: “The Committee presents the Emmanuel Roblès International Poetry Award to Hédi Bouraoui, writer, educator, and steadfast defender of universal brotherhood through the art of literature.” A letter of congratulations was read from Emmanuel Roblès’ daughter, Jacqueline Roblès-Macek, who established the parallel between her father and Bouraoui. She wrote, “You also defend in your work the values of tolerance, peace, and justice. Both of you belong to those who work courageously and tirelessly for a better world.”

Among those present at the reception were the incoming Chair of York’s Department of French Studies (Faculty of Arts), the director of the Alliance Française, the president of the Union des Français à l’Étranger and representatives from York’s French Studies (Arts and Glendon) and Stong College. Professor Elizabeth Sabiston, director of the Canada-Maghreb Centre at Stong College, spoke a few words on behalf of Stong Master Eric Willis, who was unable to attend. She expressed the college’s gratitude for Hédi Bouraoui’s 10 years of service as college master, for his introduction and promotion of the concept of transculturalism, and for his continuous service with tireless energy and provocative ideas.

More about University Professor Emeritus Hédi Bouraoui

Hédi Bouraoui was, prior to his retirement in 1998, a professor of French Studies in York’s Faculty of Arts. He was named a University Professor in 1984 and made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1997. In 1996, he was honoured by the Government of France with the title of Chevalier des Palmes Académiques.

Creatively, Bouraoui’s numerous texts demonstrate a passionate commitment to multiculturalism and the promotion of the culture of the First Nations of Canada. His work is original, both in content and manner of expression. He is a dynamic supporter of Francophone Caribbean, Maghrebian and African literatures.

An iconoclastic poet and novelist, Bouraoui is committed to experimentation, always subverting the traditional genres. He has been a deconstructionist (avant la lettre) in 18 books of poetry and numerous novels, which have received international acclaim, particularly in France, Canada and North Africa. As a theoretician, Bouraoui has produced several books and countless articles that attempt to break the barriers between creativity and criticism, moving through the themes of  of existentialism, structuralism, phenomenology, the sociology of literature and deconstruction.

He has edited many special publications devoted to the literatures of Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the United States. He was the co-editor-in-chief of the Canadian poetry review, Envol, and a regular editor of Nouvel Art du Français in Paris.

Indicative of the high regard in which Bouraoui is held internationally are the numerous articles about his creative activity and scholarship appearing in journals all over the world. Two books about him include: Hédi Bouraoui: Iconoclaste et Chantre du Transculturel, edited by Jacques Cotnam (includes a 90-page annotated bibliography); and Hédi Bouraoui et la Transpoésie by Mansour M’Henni.

Bouraoui has been president of many learned societies throughout his career, including the African Literature Association, the Salon du Livre de Toronto, and the Canadian Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations. He is also the creator of the Canada-Maghreb Centre at York and a deputy governor of the American Biographical Institute Research Association.