Student Ben-Hanniel Chérette receives the Micheline Saint-Cyr award

The Department of French Studies in York’s Faculty of Arts recently participated in international celebrations of francophone culture by hosting an awards ceremony and discussion of the writing process. York University student Ben-Hanniel Chérette was presented with the Micheline Saint-Cyr award for his short story titled "Ma Pluie" (My Rain). The award was presented to Chérette on March 20, International Francophonie Day.

Above: Didier Leclair (left), Ben-Hanniel Chérette, Professors Lélia Young and Christiane Dumont

The Micheline Saint-Cyr Award is a short story contest that rewards some of York’s best students in French writing. It was created by Professor Lélia Young in 2002 during her role as president of the Société des écrivain-e-s de Toronto (la SET). Young established the award to honor the memory of Micheline Saint-Cyr and her contribution to the Franco-Ontarian community. In 2004, the Department of French Studies became the partner of la SET for the awarding of the Prix Micheline Saint-Cyr to recognize the the creativity of its best students on an annual basis. Saint-Cyr founded La Chasse-Galerie in Toronto (1968-1980), organized Toronto francophone writers in 1984 and served as the coordinator of the literacy centre, Alpha-Toronto, from 1988 to 1996.

This year, four York students participated in the competition. The jury consisted of Franco-Ontario writers Marguerite Andersen, Didier Leclair and Antonio D’Alfonso.

At the event, Young started a discussion on the process of creation, asking Chérette questions about his writing process. Next, Leclair, who received in 2001 The Trillium Prize for his novel Toronto, je t’aime, shared with the audience his comments and a reading from his own work. Finally Chérette read an excerpt from his short story which will be published in and upcoming issue of the periodical Virages.

Chérette is currently completing his Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Arts in French Literature at York University. He received the third-year merit award from the department of French Studies. Chérette has actively promoted French and Creole culture on campus by assisting with the organization of "Kreofolies" (2007), participating in literary plays, through his role as treasurer of the student club FrancoFans and as a member of the International Organization of Creole People (IOCP). He enjoys photography and filming and has created a documentary for Upfront Theatre (2006). He has been writing for many years and is currently working towards his first novel, using his childhood experiences living in Haiti as his inspiration.

The event was organized by Professors Léiia Young and Christiane Dumont.