Passionate about literature, culture, and cooking, Réjean had a rewarding career in journalism and public life. He speaks with pride and eloquence about the role culture played in forming the Franco-Ontarian identity. Some of the movement’s founding exploits and prominent artists of the time include: the creation of the Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario in Sudbury in 1971; Moé j’viens du Nord ‘stie, a play written by a collective of students including playwright André Paiement; the founding of the Prise de parole publishing house; and the patriotic and cultural gatherings La Nuit sur l’étang, held for the first time in 1973 on the Laurentian University campus. The works of Francophone storytellers, playwrights, poets, children and young adult authors have built the foundation of Franco-Ontarian culture. Among them, are pioneers Robert Dickson, Patrice Desbiens and Jean-Marc Dalpé. It is these very books by French Canadian authors of yesterday and today, and a vast number of other novels, that make up the impressive library of this journalist turned columnist and businessman.
Born in Belleterre, Témiscamingue in 1951 to Catholic Francophone parents, Réjean spent his childhood in the small town of Ramore in northern Ontario, where his mother and father ran the general store. Like many of his fellow Laurentian University students, the search for a Franco-Ontarian identity amid a sea of Anglophones motivated the career choice of this history graduate. Additionally, it guided him to work as an organizer for the Coopérative des artistes du Nouvel-Ontario and for the La Nuit sur l’étang events. He was also a tour manager for the Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario and an agent for the music group CANO. At the age of 26, he worked as a freelance journalist for Radio-Canada, covering public affairs and current events for radio and television in Toronto, Sudbury and Timmins. In 1985, he got his foot through the door at the CBC, where he worked as the Sudbury bureau chief until 1996. Because of his perfect fluency in both languages, he was assigned to cover the Gulf War. In 1996, the entrepreneur and father of three became the Executive Director of Le Carrefour francophone de Sudbury cultural centre, which at the time was facing bankruptcy. He got the organization back on its feet and by 2002, it offered an extensive program of youth activities and had a staff of 65 employees. Similarly, he acquired the weekly newspaper Le Voyageur in 1998, which was also on the brink of bankruptcy. From 1998 to 2011, the newspaper’s readership grew from 1,000 to 28,000. A man with strong opinions, his editorials focused particularly on political life. Réjean’s commitment to his Francophone heritage continued at the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario where he became Vice-President in 2015. The principles that guide the activities of this Francophonie leader can be summed up in a few words: take action, be respectful and tolerant, speak the truth, work hard and ensure the quality of your work.
According to Peter Hominuk, a prominent figure in Ontario’s Francophone community, Réjean confidently expresses his vision of a strong Francophonie within Canada, including having access to public services in French and the ability to experience daily life in his native tongue.