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Franklin offers a tale of discrimination and love at DAARN Living Library event

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.
Dryden resident Osvalda Franklin shared her immigration story and tales of her Italian heritage at last week’s Living Library event at Dryden Library.
Photo by Michael Christianson

By Michael Christianson

The Living Library series continued on Thursday with guest storyteller Osvalda Franklin.

Franklin spoke of her experience immigrating to Canada with an emphasis on goals of the Living Library’s organizer The Dryden Area Anti-Racism Network. Those goals are to promote cultural diversity, engage in educational activities & to stand against racism & discrimination to achieve respect & harmony within our region.

Many stories were shared by Franklin at the library from her family’s life in Italy, to coming to Canada and learning about Halloween to her husband’s story of not being accepted by elite types.

One story that got a laugh from her audience was a tale that came when Franklin was in fourth grade. Her class that year was a fourth and fifth split class and she recalls one of the fifth grade boys when they were getting ready to go out for recess would look around and make sure nobody was looking and hit her and say ‘Damned Italian’ in French.

“I never said anything,” recalled Franklin. “One day my brother went by and flicked me playfully on the shoulder and I started crying. My mother came and she looked and there was this great big bruise she said ‘what happened?’ I told her and she said ‘ok, next time he does that you tell him he is damning the pope’ because the pope was Italian. My mum was smart enough to know that in the early 1950s the French Canadian Catholics figured the pope was just an important as god if not more.”

Her mom’s plan worked, he never did it again and they ended up becoming friends.

“I often think if my mom had gone to the school, brought this kid into the principal and denied doing it a whole bunch of other people would have found out,” said Franklin. “I would have been so embarrassed and we definitely never would have been friends. So she knew how to handle certain things.”

It was clear during Franklin’s Living Library that she learned a lot about the world and how we treat others from her family. During her Franklin’s stories were always sincere and her story truly is a Canadian tale.


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