Our office staff
Ajà Besler has been the Executive Director of the Canadian Foundation for Cross-Cultural Dialogue since 2021, following a career path in the Canadian Francophonie in the areas of youth, performing arts and language rights advocacy. A queer and disability artist and activist, Ajà has a passion for social justice and the Francophonie. Originally from Edmonton, Ottawa is now her adopted community.
Manager – National Projects
Working at the Dialogue Foundation since 2013, Catherine is a graduate in Public Relations from La Cité College in Ottawa. Passionate about the performing arts and francophone culture, she brings her knowledge of the performing arts and the world of communications to the Foundation and its projects.
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Project Officer
Passionate about researching critical race theory and decolonization approaches, Fanny is a multilingual who has worked in community and public service for over 6 years. In her spare time, she enjoys playing video games and composing music as therapeutic techniques for mental health wellness. Since joining the Foundation in April 2022, Fanny has contributed greatly to the achievement of the Dialogue Foundation’s mission by adding several IDT resources.
Ndeye Khady Ngom
Khady holds a degree in Business Administration from the University of Saint-Boniface and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from the Université du Québec en Outaouais. She is passionate about social justice issues. Co-founder of Action Femme Afrique, she has served on the UQO Rector’s Committee for the improvement of equity, diversity and inclusion procedures.
Aurélie S. Kadjo
Aurélie Kadjo is the UX/UI designer of the dialogue foundation since July 2022. Having studied in Montreal, Aurélie Kadjo is a multidisciplinary artist from the Ivory Coast. In 2020, after several years of creating personal works, she created Art Baobab. Under this name, she presents her first paintings.
After years of experience in web design, she has acquired an expertise in the field and has worked for several companies. She is happy to bring her artistic touch to the Foundation.
Intern – Project Officer
Audrey is a French literature student who joined our team as a co-op student at the University of Ottawa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and teaching her dog new tricks. Passionate about language, Audrey takes on new challenges by helping to organize projects and preparing content for the Linguistic Duality Network’s newsletter and social networks.
Our Board of Directors
Chair, Nova Scotia
Mr. Surette has been President and Vice-Chancellor of Université Sainte-Anne since July 1st, 2011.
Mr. Surette was elected to the Nova Scotia Legislature from the constituency of Argyle in 1993. He held several political positions until 1998, including Special Advisor on Acadian and Francophone Governance within the provincial public school system, Minister of Human Resources and Minister of Acadian Affairs.
In addition, he remains actively involved in various committees. He is currently Chair of the Canadian Foundation for Cross-Cultural Dialogue, the Nova Scotia Economic Development Council and the organizing committee of the next Acadian World Congress that will be held in the southwestern Nova Scotia in 2024.
In October 2004, Mr. Surette received the Père-Léger-Comeau certificate from the Fédération Acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse. In October 2008, he was enthroned Commander of the Ordre de la Pléade. In October 2019, he received the Ordre des Francophones d’Amérique for his outstanding contribution to the development of the French language in America and in January 2019, the French Republic named him Knight of l’Ordre des Palmes académiques.
Chair of the RSSFE ( Réseau des services de santé en français de l’est de l’Ontario )
, Ontario (nouvelle version)
His many years of service with the cooperative financial institution Desjardins have given him extensive experience in corporate and community governance, business development, project management, strategic alliances and public relations. He was appointed as a Desjardins Ambassador in recognition of his contribution to the Desjardins Movement.
During his career, he has also held senior management positions with the Chubb of Canada, The Guarantee Company, Lloyd’s of London and Century 21. Very active in his community, Alain-Michel Sékula has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Montfort Hospital. Mr. Sékula has also served on the Board of Directors oft eh Ontario French Language Educational Communications Authority (TFO).
He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Mercy Ships Canada and Treasurer of the Board of Santé Montfort. In 2019, Mr. Sékula was enthroned Honorary Colonel of the Canadian Forces Health Services Centre Ottawa.
Director, New Brunswick
Chedly Belkhodja is professor and director of the Concordia University School of Public and Community Affairs. From 1992 to 2014, he was a professor in the Department of Political Science at the Université de Moncton.
As a Franco-Tunisian, he grew up in New Brunswick.
He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Bordeaux-Montesquieu (1996) and a master’s degree in Political Science from the Université de Montreal (1991). His research focuses on immigration issues in mid-sized cities and low-immigration areas and on discourses and representations of cultural, religious and ethnic diversity. He also studies the phenomenon of populism and right-wing ideologies.
He was involved in the creation of the Atlantic Metropolis Centre as Director of Research where he later became Director of the Centre from 2006 to 2012. In the meantime, he directed two films produced by the National Film Board of Canada, such as Tableaux d’un voyage imaginaire in 2001 with filmmaker Jean Chabot and Au bout du fil in 2006.
President of the FCFA, New Brunswick
Originally from New Brunswick, Liane Roy has devoted her work to the Francophonie at the provincial, regional, national, and international levels. She has served as Assistant Deputy Minister in the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour and the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs of New Brunswick.
As the first CEO of the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC), she led this post-secondary institution to become self-sufficient by overseeing the entire transition process towards a new structure. She worked as a youth technical advisor for the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) in Paris during the preparation for the Francophone Summit in Moncton (1999) and as technical advisor for the Partnership for Non-Formal Education in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso).
She has also led the promotion of Acadia throughout various organizations, such as La Société Nationale de l’Acadie (SNA) and La Société de l’Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick. In 2019, she completed a second Master of Education and a Doctorate (EdD) in Educational Leadership – managing Cultural and Linguistic Diversity at Simon Fraser University. She also holds a Master’s degree in Education with a major in Counselling from the University of Moncton and a Bachelors’s degree in Social Work from the same institution.
Liane Roy is currently a member of the Board of Governors of Université Sainte-Anne and the Board of Directors of the Marichette Foundation. She has also served as Chair of the Board of Directors of Colleges and Institutes Canada, the Consortium national de développement de ressources pédagogiques en français au collégial and Atlantic College Atlantique.
President of the FCFA since 2021, Liane Roy carries the voice of a strong, open, and diversified Francophonie at the international level that engages with reconciliation of Indigenous Peoples. The federal government’s adoption of a modern and respected Official Languages Act is also one of her priorities.
Jenny Matingu graduated from Clendon College of York University in International studies with a major in South Asian Studies. During her university studies, Jenny developed an interest in issues related to multicultural aspects in Canadian society and in plurality within the Francophonie. Jenny is currently a Liaison Officer at the Ontario Legislative Assembly where she works in Parliamentary Protocol. In this role, she provides non-partisan assistance to MPs and arranges special events including the Participation of the Speaker of the House and diplomats. Jenny remains involved in projects related to the Francophonie by supporting her colleagues in matters related to the Secretariat of the Ontario Section at the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF).
Ms. Thibideau has worked in education since 1978 where she started as a teacher. Until 2010, she was also a Learning Advisor, elementary school principal, and director of the identity-building department at the Conseil Scolaire Catholique Mon Avenir.
During her career and since her retirement, she has been involved with both Ontario’s Francophone and national organizations in the capacity of:
- South Central Region representative for the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants de l’Ontario (AEFO)
- Member of the board of directors and president of the Association des directions et directions adjointes des écoles franco-ontariennes (ADFO)
- President and volunteer executive director for the Fédération canadienne des directions d’écoles francophones (FCDEF)
- Member of the educational tools committee and of the training programming and guidance committee for internship. She is also an Ontario representative to the board of directors and member of the board of governors of the Association canadienne d’éducation de langue française (ACELF).
As an educator, Claire Thibideau has written various educational tools, oversaw and developed an ADFO leadership tool named Le leadership culturel partagé. As a member of the FCDEF, she has produced, in partnership with the ACELF, the FCCF and various federal departments, Le passeur culturel.
In addition to the field of education, Ms. Thibideau is president of the Colibri Centre in Barrie by helping Francophone women who have been victims of violence. She is also a member of the board of directors of La Meute de Lafontaine, an organization that organizes a Francophone cultural festival and cultural activities for schools in the Simcoe region of Ontario.
Director, British Columbia
Chair of la Société de développement économique (SDE) de la Colombie-Britannique
Very involved in the Francophone community of British-Columbia, she has been president of Réseau Femmes and the Société de Développement Économique la Colombie-Britannique. Since 2018, she sits on the Board of Directors of the Fédération des Francophones de la Colombie-Britannique as the Greater Vancouver representative. She is now Head Mentor of the Business Mentoring Program of the Société Économique de Développement de la CB.
She had a career in management and is now working as a financial advisor.
Paula Popescu is a social worker currently pursing a Master of Social Work degree at the University of Ottawa. Her thesis focuses on access to long-term care for Francophone seniors in the Ottawa area. Paula is also doing an internship at the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages and will be working in the department.
Director, New Brunswick
As a former miner at the Brunswick mine, Yvon Godin devoted 18 years of his career to politics as Member of Parliament for Acadie-Bathurst in New Brunswick from 1997 to 2015.
Over the years, he has served as the whip and spokesperson for the New Democratic Party on natural resources, employment insurance, labour and Official Languages.
He is the author of Bill C-232, the first bill introduced in the Parliament of Canada to ensure that judges appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada have language skills in both official languages. He received the rank of Knight of the Order of La Pleiade for his contribution to Canadian Francophonie.
Before being sworn in as a Member of Parliament, Yvon was president of the Syndicat des Métallos Local 5385 from 1982 to 1988, and union representative from 1988 to 1997. He negotiated more than 30 collective agreements during his career and was president of the Local Service District (LSD) of Allardville, New Brunswick.
Always active on the political scene, Yvon is a guest panelist on the television show Le club des ex on RDI, as well as a radio station guest on L’heure juste at Ici Radio-Canada Première.
Yvon is from St-Sauveur, New Brunswick and is the father of three children and grandfather of four grandchildren.
Born in 1955 in Saint Boniface, Manitoba, Paulette is the third of five children of a Métis mother from the Red River and a father of French-Canadian ancestry. She enjoyed a happy childhood, but in an atmosphere of pride and perseverance for the preservation of the French language and the traditions of her Franco-Métis heritage.
Honored to have had a maternal grandfather loyal to Riel and renowned for her storytelling talents in Métis history, Paulette naturally took an interest in her heritage and the history of Manitoba, made famous by her great-grandmother’s brother, Louis Riel.
Continuing a family tradition, Paulette has been involved since 2008 with the country’s oldest Métis organization founded in 1887, the Union Nationale Métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba where she is on her third year as president. Paulette has also been an employee of the Great West Life Insurance Company for nearly 25 years, working in claims.
When time allows, she returns to the passion of her youth by being play actress. Her last role portrayed the mother of the author Gabrielle Roy, a monologue that was presented in the original house itself which became a museum. It is also in Saint-Boniface at Cercle Molière, the oldest theatre in Canada in operation since 1925 that Paulette met her husband, Denis Duguay.
After 44 years of marriage, 5 children, 10 grandchildren and the whole family in good health, she only has gratitude and optimism for the goodness of life.
Director, Consultant, Alberta
Françoise Sigur-Cloutier was born in Toulouse, France. She immigrated to Canada and settled in Calgary in 1969. She devoted a large part of her career to community development. For 18 years, she served as Regional Communications Manager in Saskatchewan for Radio-Canada.
As a volunteer-activist, she works in several provincial and national Francophone organizations, particularly in publishing and feminist groups. Elected as president of the Assemblée Communautaire Fransaskoise (ACF), Françoise Sigur-Cloutier carries her mandate on political representation, immigration and the development of post-secondary issues.
Relocated to Calgary since May 2019, she is once again very involved in the Francophone community at the local, provincial and national levels.
Françoise is married, mother of three children, grandmother of four grandsons and great-grandmother of little Arthur.
Director, Prince Edward Island
Historian, ethnologist and communicator
Holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in History at the Université de Moncton in New Brunswick, Mr. Arsenault continued his studies at Université Laval in Quebec City to obtain a Master’s degree in Popular Arts and Traditions.
After completing his studies, he settled in Prince Edward Island in 1977 to assume the position of socio-cultural animator at the Société Saint-Thomas-d’Aquin for five years. He will coordinate an ambitious project to develop educational materials on Acadian history and culture for schools in the province, a project supported by the Ministry of Education. A series of booklets on education, agriculture, fishing and religion have been published. This collection of booklets was later expanded into a single book entitled Les Acadiens de l’Île: 1720-1980.
Arsenault later became a professor of Acadian Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island. His career then branched off to the media when the CBC chose him to host the Prince Edward Island morning show then-called “Bonjour Atlantique.” He did that for fifteen years.
A considerable collection of records of Acadian traditions in Prince Edward Island is held at the Centre d’études acadiennes at the Université de Moncton. These archives reflect Mr. Arsenault’s passion to understand where we come from and to bring heritage to life through its dissemination. A precious legacy, a source of inspiration.
Among the articles and books on the history of Acadians of Prince Edward Island that he has published, the following are some titles: Contes, légendes et chansons de l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard; Par un dimanche au soir : LéahMaddix, chanteuse et conteuse acadienne; Courir la Mi-Carême, which earned him the 2008 Island Book Award.
He also published Noël en Acadie and La Chandeleur en Acadie, and has collaborated on a book about Acadian women in Prince Edward Island.
Several honorary titles have highlighted Georges Arsenault’s career, including: member of the Ordre des francophones d’Amérique awarded by the Government of Quebec, knight of the Order of Arts and Letters awarded by France, the médaille Léger-Comeau of the Société nationale de l’Acadie and the Ordre du mérite acadien received in 2008 from the Société Saint-Thomas-d’Aquin. In November 2016, he was admitted into the Order of Canada.
Daphné Kathia Rosalbert
Civil Law graduate from the University of Ottawa, Daphné Rosalbert is a lawyer and Senior Regulatory Risk Management Advisor in the banking sector
Daphné Rosalbert was the Vice-president of the Board of directors of the Haitian Young Chamber of Commerce between 2015 and 2017. Daphné Rosalbert is also involved at the Young Bar of Montreal since 2014.
As a young professional engaged in her community, Daphné Rosalbert wants to encourage the youth and individuals from diverse cultural communities to engage in all aspects of the Canadian society.
Director, British Columbia
Ania is a lawyer in Vancouver. She practices law in English, French and Polish, through which she focuses on civil litigation, constitutional law and language rights. Ania has worked on one of the largest and most protracted education and language rights court challenges in Canadian history. She also provides strategic advice to numerous public institutions, which include French-language school boards across Canada.
Having learned French through immersion, Ania completed her first degree in Political Science and French literature at Simon Fraser University in the French Cohort Program, a multidisciplinary program offered primarily in French by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. It was at the University of Ottawa that Ania obtained her Common Law and Civil Law degrees in 2011. In 2018, she completed her master’s degree in Education and Sustainable Development at the University of British Columbia.