LAFAYETTE, La. – The Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL) announced the Oui! Initiative, a resource to identify businesses and attractions across Louisiana with a French-language presence. With a searchable, bilingual database, the Oui! Initiative makes these businesses and attractions accessible to Louisiana’s French-speaking population as well as tourists from around the world.
The Oui! Initiative catalogs businesses across a variety of sectors, including tourist destinations such as restaurants, hotels, and tours, but also post offices, doctors, and lawyers. For each business, an entry describes what services may be available in French, from full-time staff fluent in the language to printed materials that have been translated. Each entry includes contact details for the business, and a map provides an overview of all the listed businesses.
On Saturday, March 23, CODOFIL marked the launch of the Oui! Initiative with the event “Oui! au Marché” (“Oui! at the Market”) in conjunction with Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market. CODOFIL helped vendors at this weekly farmers’ market develop French-language materials or increase the visibility of existing services in French. Market guests were offered 5-minute mini-lessons in French and could enter a raffle by speaking French with vendors. Market director Mark Hernandez said an estimated 20 percent of the Market’s 150 rotating vendors already speak French, and that “identifying those vendors who speak French and putting it out there that we have French speakers at the Market is a draw.”
“French-speaking countries are some of Louisiana’s most important international markets,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “When looking at international visitors signing guest books at our Welcome Centers, French visitors top the list. French culture is a big part of the history of our state. While many of our Canadian visitors speak French, there are many people in France who dream of being able to visit Louisiana. We are working to help make that dream easier to become a reality.”
“As CODOFIL continues its efforts to develop and promote the French language in Louisiana, the Oui! Initiative is an important next step,” said CODOFIL Executive Director Peggy Feehan. “With a native French-speaking population, a robust French-language education system, and a rich culture influenced heavily by the language, Louisiana is uniquely positioned to see the benefits of French as an economic asset. This initiative is the first step in realizing that potential: where does it exist already, and how do we make it available to those interested?”
Businesses, attractions, and the public are encouraged to visit www.codofil.org/oui to search the database and also recommend a business as a part of the Oui! Initiative. Efforts to catalog businesses across the state are ongoing, and the initiative’s database will be regularly updated.
CODOFIL is a state agency in the Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism tasked with the development and promotion of the French language in Louisiana. For more information on CODOFIL, visit www.codofil.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.