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12 inducted into Maine Franco-American Hall of Fame

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 5:47 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - A ceremony was held at the State House in Augusta Tuesday morning in honor the many contributions of Franco-Americans to the state.

Twelve people were inducted into the Maine Franco-American Hall of Fame.

Inductees include former House Speaker John Martin and State Senator Susan Deschambault.

Alain Jean Claude Nahimana, founder of the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, is the first Black Mainer to be inducted and one of four people inducted posthumously.

The proceedings were conducted in both English and French.

French speakers in the state have faced discrimination in the past.

A law banning the use of any foreign language in schools was in place for 41 years starting in 1919.

Governor Mills noted one-third of Maine citizens can claim Franco heritage.

”Maine people of French heritage served bravely in two world wars, in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, and became leaders in all aspects of our communities across Maine.”

The Ambassador of France to the United States Philippe Etienne also spoke at the event.

“May we be inspired by their example to build the next generation of Franco and Francophone leaders in your great state of Maine.”

INDUCTEES:

James Beaudry, Biddeford Pool (Posthumous)

Camille Lessard Bissonnette, Lewiston (Posthumous)

Diane Castonguay, St. Agatha

Rev. Lionel Gerard Chouinard, Augusta (Posthumous)

Michel Courchesne, Lewiston

Hon. Andre G. Janelle, Saco

Alain Jean Claude Nahimana, Portland (Posthumous)

Lise Pelletier, Fort Kent

Hon. Jerome “Jerry” Plante, Old Orchard Beach

Patricia Vashon, Waterville

Former House Speaker John Martin, Eagle Lake

Sen. Susan Deschambault, Biddeford

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