National Francophone Immigration Week: Isidore Makaya

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For National Francophone Immigration Week we’re profiling four Francophone immigrants who chose the NWT as their new home.

Hailing from The Republic of Congo, Isidore Guy Makaya chose to settle down in Yellowknife in 2016 after living for a while in France and Spain. As a dedicated writer, Makaya was inspired by the natural scenes and soothing landscapes all around him in the Northwest Territories. One year later, he would open Éditions Présence francophone, a publishing house for books written in French.

Following his dreams

One night Makaya heard a voice in his dream telling him to “Go see Linda in Yellowknife.” While staying at a rented campground spot the owner asked him why he came to Yellowknife and told him about his dream. The man excitedly replied, “My aunt’s name is Linda!” A few months later he landed a job with the Fédération franco-ténoise whose president’s name is Linda.

“I dream a lot, and I trust my dreams. In a dream, a voice said to me, ‘Go see Linda in Yellowknife.’ So, I came to Yellowknife to fulfil that dream!”

It’s not often you hear of people literally following their dreams, but Makaya stands as an example for anyone chasing their own. He is still writing today – a passion he discovered in his youth. It started with love letters he wrote on behalf of his sisters in the Congo, before scribbling short stories inspired by books that he read.

Having already wrestled with the publishing world as an aspiring writer, being published in Montreal in 2010 and France in 2015, Makaya understood the struggle of someone trying to get published. Éditions Présence francophone was launched in the summer of 2017 and has published collections of poetry, short stories and plays.

Challenges

The publishing house’s main goal is to launch the careers of local Francophone authors in and outside of the territory – and have fun doing it. Five books have been released in hardcopy and eight in electronic formats since they’ve started. Even with successful book launches under his belt, Makaya still faces challenges as a publisher and entrepreneur. Finding volunteers to help out and people interesting in writing is no easy feat. Staff also have jobs and families to take care of while navigating the operation of a publishing house.

Still, Makaya’s passion for writing shines through and he’s aiming to release the second and third volume of his “grandmother” book dedicated to his mother tongue, all while continuing to foster a healthy ground for Francophone writers in the Northwest Territories.

From November 7 to 13, 2021, Canada celebrated National Francophone Immigration Week, an initiative of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA) du Canada. To mark the occasion, the Conseil de développement économique des Territoires du Nord-Ouest (CDÉTNO) and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) are honouring four Francophone immigrants who chose the Northwest Territories as their new home.