Inside FRAP’s Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion in the Canadian Francophone Community – A Black History Month Feature

In our Tenant Spotlight series, we’re featuring the tenants who help shape our neighbourhoods and communities. In honour of Black History Month, we sat down with Yic Camara, the Deputy Executive Director of FRAP, a Francophone Settlement Agency based in our Northgate Centre property in Edmonton, Alberta. Keep reading to learn more about Yic’s story, how FRAP has impacted the Francophone community, and the importance of education and awareness during this special occasion.

What is FRAP, and what do they do? 

FRAP, which stands for Francophonie Albertaine Plurielle, is a Francophone Settlement Agency that specializes in welcoming Francophone newcomers to Canada, specifically Alberta. The agency’s goal is to help Francophone immigrants feel at home and integrated throughout their journey of settling in Canada. FRAP is based in Edmonton, with locations across the province of Alberta, and covers a portion of Western Canada, including Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories.   

Humble Beginnings: How FRAP Has Progressed Throughout the Years  

FRAP was established in October 2014. At the time of its founding, FRAP specialized in ensuring that Francophone newcomers and families were well integrated into the Francophone school system. The agency, however, noticed a lack of diversity in the Francophone school system, specifically among the teachers and supporting school staff. For the next 4 years, FRAP advocated for more diversity within the Francophone school system, entering various negotiations with the Alberta Provincial Government and the Francophone school board to bring about change.  

In 2018, the Federal Government decided to halt funding for the main Francophone agency (at that time), which FRAP highly disagreed with. FRAP stood up for this agency, speaking up about the value and significance of assisting Francophone newcomers in settling into their new homes. To carry on the need for Francophone settlement services, FRAP took over for the previous agency, broadening its focus from ensuring diversity in the Francophone school board to now servicing Francophone newcomers as well. Since then, FRAP has expanded to multiple cities and provinces within Western Canada. 

Finding the Ideal Location 

FRAP’s first office was located on the South side of Edmonton near the University of Alberta, but this location was not ideal for the agency. Most Francophone families live on the North side of the city, making it difficult for Francophones and clients to travel to FRAP.  

In 2021, FRAP reached out to First Capital to open another office closer to their target clients. Coincidently, the First Capital team was moving out of one of its offices Northgate Centre, located in Northern Edmonton. FRAP took over this space for their new office, as this location was very convenient and accessible. Most importantly, FRAP had now relocated to an area that was closer to its clients and Francophone families. Since then, FRAP has been serving over 300 people, and their client base is still growing today. 

“We’re so fortunate to have First Capital as a business partner… They are there for us any time we need them.”

Just ten months ago, FRAP opened another office with First Capital in the West side of Edmonton. Even though FRAP mainly served Francophones, the agency felt very welcomed by the local community and businesses were thrilled to see the first Francophone-focused agency in that area.

Working at FRAP: A Rewarding Career for Yic    

As a Francophone immigrant himself, Yic understands the experiences and hardships faced by Francophone newcomers. One of the things he enjoys the most about his job is working closely with his clients, guiding them through every step of their journey, and watching them thrive. 

“People who share the same background as me are the ones who are seeking our [FRAP’s] services. That’s why I feel so proud to be here to serve our people, to serve Francophones… I can imagine being a Francophone immigrant in Alberta – you belong to a visible minority, you don’t speak English, you’re coming from another country… It’s very challenging for them. And being part of their solution, being a light for them to while going through everything – I’m so proud of that because when I see people I worked with become successful and living their dream, it’s priceless.”

– Yic Camara, Deputy Executive Director of FRAP

For Yic and his colleagues, working at FRAP has been nothing short of a fulfilling and rewarding experience. 

“I love what I am doing right now because I like being there for people…I feel so grateful to do what I am doing. What I do as a job is very meaningful to many people.”  

– Yic Camara, Deputy Executive Director of FRAP

Yic also proudly notes that it is his colleagues who drive the agency forward and make the work worthwhile. Yic is extremely grateful for all the meaningful work they do together, and he knows they always give their best to take care of clients. 

Without them [my colleagues], nothing is possible – for myself, our agency, and our clients.”

The Meaning of Black History Month to Yic   

Black History Month plays a huge role in Yic’s heritage, background, and family. To Yic, Black History Month is more than just a celebration, but an occasion to educate others about Black History in Canada. His goal is to bring more people together and raise awareness to what Black people have experienced and accomplished throughout Canadian history. Yic also notes the importance of educating the new generation, including his children, about Black History.  

Black history is also Canadian history… Black History Month is not just for Black people, it is for everyone, for all Canadians. We need to get everyone engaged to learn about Black History – that is the main goal. My hope is that everyone in Canada can live as one.

– Yic Camara, Deputy Executive Director of FRAP

Any Words of Advice for Young Black Professionals Who Want to be a Business Owner like Yourself?    

Never give up! You can do it! Believe in yourself and believe in what you want to achieve because it’s possible… Don’t let someone else convince you that you’re not able to achieve it… Be proud of yourself and what you are, be proud of your history, no one decides who you have to be.

– Yic Camara, Deputy Executive Director of FRAP

A Recap of Black History Month Initiatives Organized by FRAP   

During Black History Month, FRAP organized several programming and activities for Francophone and French Immersion schools across Alberta. Through these initiatives, FRAP aimed to educate and bring awareness of Black History Month to the young generation. This included Black History-centered workshops, games, videos, and arts/culture performances that showcased Black culture and identities.  

FRAP also held an opening event for Anglophones and the Francophone community to learn about Black History Month in Alberta. Here, attendees learned about what Black people have achieved in Canada through testimonials, performances, and presentations. 150 people attended this event, along with the Mayor of Edmonton and various politicians. 

Here at First Capital, we’re glad that we can showcase what our tenants do and share their inspirational stories! We couldn’t be prouder of FRAP’s success, and we look forward to seeing what’s next for Yic and the rest of the team at FRAP! 

Check out our social media posts on LinkedIn & Instagram, and click the links below to learn more about FRAP: 

FRAP’s Main Website