November 3 to 9 was National Francophone Immigration Week, and an author and her young family who have made Hawkesbury their home shared their experiences with an audience of approximately 50 at the Royal Canadian Legion on November 13. The event was also held as an expression of Hawkesbury’s designation as a welcoming community for francophone immigrants. 

Muriel Mben was born and raised in Cameroon and also lived in Sénégal. She studied in Germany and has written four novels. In 2013, La dernière pluie was published, followed by her only English novel, The Unruly Passenger in 2015. In 2016, Un bond dans l’inconnu was published.

On November 13, Mben read from the most recent novel, which is titled La fumée qui s’échappe du feu des marmites.  

“It is historical fiction, but based on fact,” was how Mben described the novel. One of the themes the book explores is the challenges young women in Africa sometimes experience when trying to pursue advanced education. 

Mben is part of a project to introduce francophone African literature to a wider audience. While she spoke to the audience on November 13, she held her baby daughter Hemly, who rested contently.  

Mben’s spouse. Urbain Yamb. shared his experiences as an immigrant, and his appreciation for the local community. Yamb is a research librarian and archivist, who has also lived and worked in Québec, Alberta, and Toronto. The family moved to Hawkesbury in July 2021. 

Yamb said he appreciates Hawkesbury because of its francophone majority. However, he emphasized he supports language rights for the English minority. He said they appreciate their welcoming, helpful neighbour in Hawkesbury. 

“We are very happy.”

Author Muriel Mben, holding daughter Hemly, speaking at a Francophone Immigration Week event at the Hawkesbury Legion on November 13. Photo: James Morgan