We publish voices that have something to say to a small regional audience...Books are essential to reveal ourselves to ourselves
The city may have a beer, bingo and porketta image in most of English Canada, but as a result of an awakening of Franco-Ontarian artists in the 1970s, Sudbury has become the epicentre of Franco-Ontarian music, theatre, art and literature.
During the "CANO" period, the Coopérative des artistes du Nouvel Ontario (Artists' Cooperative of Northern Ontario) gave birth to Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario, Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario, La Nuit sur l'étang, the progressive rock band CANO, and the publishing house Prise de parole.
Today Prise de parole is the oldest of the few French publishing houses in Canada outside of Quebec. This small publishing house has a national and international reputation. Its authors such as Robert Dickson and Estelle Beauchamp have won numerous prestigious literary awards including five Governor General's Awards and three Trillium Awards.
Over the past four decades Prise de parole has validated Franco-Ontarian literature, publishing the work of more than 150 authors and some 325 titles in fiction, poetry, drama and essays.
These books are studied in schools, colleges and universities, and are available in public libraries. While distribution is always challenging, the Prise de parole catalogue can be purchased on the internet. Out-of-print books are available as e-books which further protects and enriches Franco-Ontarian cultural heritage for future generations.
"Thanks to Prise de parole, (Franco-Ontarian) voices are published, distributed, promoted and celebrated all over the country and the world," says Guylaine Tousignant, executive director of the biannual book festival, Salon de livre du Greater Sudbury.
"Prise de parole has also helped make the Sudbury artistic community better by supporting and encouraging emerging authors to write in the hopes of being published and read," she says.
Denise Truax has been executive director of the publishing house since 1988. A CEO with an artist's sensibilities, she refers to authors as "voices."
Many of the authors have set their stories in Sudbury, imprinting its colourful personality on readers, and acting as unofficial ambassadors, adds Truax.
The not-for-profit organization has a full-time staff of three and is overseen by a board of directors.
Prise de parole played a key role in the creation of Salon du livre. The book festival will be held in 2012 from May 10 to 13 at the Radisson Hotel. In recent years almost 30,000 book lovers from throughout northeastern Ontario have attended the event which features as many as 100 authors and 150 events for children.
"Prise de parole has played a major role in defining Sudbury as one of the French literary capitals of Canada," says Tousignant.
Surviving in the precarious world of publishing is an achievement in itself; successfully publishing the work of French-language writers outside of Quebec is something of a miracle.