Even though CODOFIL recently celebrated its 40th bonne fête, last week represented a first for the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana. Preserving the traditional Cajun dialect and teaching future generations remains a driving force for the state-sponsored advocacy group, but sustaining other cultural aspects of French Louisiana has also become a focus.

State Sen. Mike Michot advanced legislation during the recent session to move CODOFIL from the state Department of Education to the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. CODOFIL has been with the education department since 1968 when Michot’s father, Louis, was the state superintendent. Since then, the mission of the group has gone from bringing teachers to Louisiana to exploring ways of supporting French-speaking communities. “I think we’re finally expanding beyond education,” Dr. David Cheramie, CODOFIL’s executive director, said in his testimony on Senate Bill 180. “French as a second language is our bread-and-butter, but now we’ll be able to get into more of the cultural side of our mission.”

That evolution of CODOFIL’s service, however, started long before the recent regular session convened. Monies that fund CODOFIL were moved over to the tourism department in 2007 in preparation for the move. Cheramie and others argue that the French language — like indigenous food and music — is part of what Louisiana offers to tourists. Gov. Jindal agreed, as he signed the bill into law yesterday.

In related news, Jindal reappointed the following local members to CODOFIL’s board: Tom Angers, Gerald Domingue, Richard Guidry, Kirby Jambon, Christy Maraist, Warren A. Perrin and Brenda Trahan. The governor also appointed new local members, including Don Trahan, Julie Calzone, Dudley E. Duhon, Kansas Hernandez, John H. Hollier, Huey McCauley and Todd Mouton.  

For more info, visit www.codofil.org.

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