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Military spouse brings French-language programming to Moose Jaw's library

The idea for the French-language program came after Éloïse Soroka’s husband transferred to 15 Wing Moose Jaw through his career in the Canadian military.

MOOSEJAWTODAY.COM — Moose Jaw’s Francophone community now has more family-friendly opportunities thanks to a French-speaking volunteer who offered to expand the Moose Jaw Public Library’s range of programs.

The French-language program is called l’heure du conte, which translates into “French Storytime.” The program runs twice a month starting at 10 a.m. on Monday mornings and is intended for children ages five and under.

“We read books, sing songs and nursery rhymes, and play simple games,” said Éloïse Soroka, the individual behind the new programming at the public library.

French Storytime began in March after Soroka reached out to the library with her idea. Earlier, community outreach librarian Jennifer Doede said the library had previously offered a wider range of French-language program options, and they’ve been looking for the right opportunity – in terms of French-speaking program leaders and volunteers – to do so again.

Soroka reached out at just the right time, and now the program is starting to gain momentum — albeit rather slowly at first.

“So, the first time around, we had one participant and three with my daughters,” she revealed. “One time there was no one, and another time there were five…”

The idea for the French-language program came after Soroka’s husband transferred to 15 Wing Moose Jaw through his career in the Canadian military, and she quickly noticed there weren’t a lot of options here for francophones. Her inspiration was another program in Ottawa called bébés à la biblio (Babies at the Library).

“I really love that program that was run at the library (in Ottawa)… I would go with my twin girls, and I wanted to kind of recreate that for them (and everyone else) here,” she said.

As it stands, Soroka isn’t looking to expand her voluntary programming beyond this initial concept – at least not until more participants show an interest. She admitted that she wasn’t certain about the level of demand for francophone programs in Moose Jaw but wanted to give it a try regardless.

“I plan to continue (French Storytime) for the time being,” she said, with one caveat being that she may be transferred to another military base at some point in the future. In the meantime, she’s hoping to start something new and lasting here in town.

To run the program, Soroka starts with a welcome song, followed by reading a French-language book aloud. This is followed by a couple songs and the group usually moves on to a second book if the half-hour time frame permits.

Soroka likes to have some fun and said she’ll even include a break to blow some bubbles to simply enjoy the outing.

“I also bring some French books for the kids to explore… after the program is over. They’re welcome to stay and play in the children’s room (at the library),” she said.

Children won’t be able to borrow from her personal collection, but she wishes to remind patrons that the library has a selection of French-language material that can be borrowed with their library card.

The program is ideal for francophone families looking for a family-friendly activity with their children and anglophone families with children in French immersion.

“Any family of any language background can come in if they want their children to have (French-language) exposure; that would be a great first (step),” she suggested.

The next French Storytime dates are scheduled for Monday, May 6 and 13 starting at 10:30 a.m.

If you’re interested in French-language programming, you can reach out to the Moose Jaw Public Library at 306-692-2787. The library is located at 461 Langdon Crescent and is open seven days a week.

For more information on upcoming program dates, visit