The song “Notre Place,” with music by François Dubéand lyrics by Paul Demers, will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame at the Gala Trille Or on Sept. 9, 2023, in Ottawa.

Let’s recall the historical context in which this important song was created. In 1986, Bill 8, which guarantees the public’s right to receive services in French from government departments and agencies in 26 designated regions of Ontario, was introduced by the then-Minister of Francophone Affairs, Bernard Grandmaître. The Act came into power Nov. 19, 1989; to celebrate, a Grand Gala was organized at Toronto’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre by the Fondation franco-ontarienne and TVOntario’s Chaîne française, which later became TFO. For the occasion, event producer Hélène Fournier asked pianist and composer François Dubé to create a musical theme, like those heard at the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games.

“I told her that since we were celebrating the French language, it would be appropriate to have lyrics as well, and not just music,” says Dubé.Ultimately, I convinced her to let me present her with a song, and she could decide.

Dubé, who had previously worked with Paul Demers on galas and TV shows, contacted his friend to write the song with him. Demers, then recovering from a cancer diagnosis, agreed to do it. It was too good an opportunity to turn down, he thought. Writing and performing a song to showcase Franco-Ontarian vitality would provide a great return to the stage after many months of inactivity. Demers was inspired by two lines from poet Jean-Marc Dalpé’s Gens d’ici” and Les murs de nos villages”: Notre langue, on l’avait dans nos poches, nos poches avaient des trous. ”

Demers went to Dubé’s home, they sat down at the piano in the basement studio, and the latter played a few bars he’d composed. He said he wanted their work to be as powerful as “We Are the World,” the song recorded by a group of American stars in 1985 to counter famine in Africa. Says Dubé, “Paul turned to me and said that, while I was playing, the words ‘Il faut prendre notre place’ kept coming into his head. I told him to get off his butt and come back to me with some potential lyrics; a few days later, he phoned me to say he had something.”

By their second creative session, the men felt as if they’d been struck by a bolt of lightning: in just over an hour, a first draft of the song was completed. “We were laughing with joy,” says Dubé. “The creative fountain was flowing inside us! Some songs take months to write; for this one, it seemed like minutes!” In the days that followed, Dubé sent the piece to the producer of the Grand Gala, who relented: it would be this song ,and not an instrumental piece, that would be played onstage.

Dubé and Demers met one last time to finalize what would become “Notre Place.” On the evening of the Gala, some 1,000 people were in attendance. Demers, accompanied by Dubé on piano, as well as Robert Paquette and the group Hart-Rouge for backing vocals, performed the song. At the post-show reception, the creative duo was mobbed by admiring dignitaries: “Notre Place” needed to be recorded so that as many people as possible could hear it! It was all the rage! That night, Paul and I had the feeling that the song would be a hit. We weren’t wrong…” Demers then recorded the song in the studio, with Dubé on piano. And the rest is history…

In the following months, the songwriters were called by many school administrators wanting to use the song for student concerts, end-of-year parties, or ceremonies of sorts. In no time at all, like a tidal wave, the song became the unofficial anthem of every Francophone school in Ontario. Some went as far as to have their students sing it every morning, like a national anthem, broadcast over the school’s loudspeakers.

“Paul and I were touched by it all,” says Dubé. “The fact that we were able to give young Franco-Ontarians a wonderful tool for asserting themselves, defending their language and who they are, filled us with pride.” A pride that young people also feel when they sing it. “Notre Place” celebrates not just Bill 8 but the entire French community in Ontario.

In 1997, “Notre Place” became the rallying song of the S.O.S. Montfort movement in its fight to save Ottawa’s Montfort Hospital, the only French-language-speaking hospital in Ontario. In September 2016, 17 years after the song was written, a French-language elementary school in Orleans, named École élémentaire catholique Notre-Place, opened. In March 2017, only a few months after Demers’ death, “Notre Place” became the Franco-Ontarian national anthem following a motion put forward by Glengarry-Prescott-Russel MPP Grant Crack. It was unanimously adopted by the MPPs in the presence of Paul Demers’ widow, Sylvie Chalifoux-Demers, and Dubé. Finally, in 2018, a monument to the French-speaking world called “Notre Place” was unveiled at Queen’s Park in Toronto, in front of the Ontario Legislative Assembly.

“Beyond the significance of this song for Franco-Ontarians, it also has a special meaning for me,” says Dubé. “When Paul arrived at my home for our first working session, he told me how timely my call was. He was going through a difficult time with his illness. Writing this song gave him renewed life and hope. Through me, it’s as if the universe had sent Paul a message: you still have great things to accomplish, old chap.

Pour ne plus avoir notre langue dans nos poches
Je vais chanter, je vais chanter
Ah! Que tu viennes de Pointe-aux-Roches ou d’Orléans
Ah! Je vais chanter, je vais chanter
Pour mettre les accents là où il le faut
Faut se lever, il faut célébrer
Notre place
Aujourd’hui pour demain
Notre place
Pour un avenir meilleur
Notre place
Donnons-nous la main
Notre place
Ça vient du fond du cœur


The SOCAN Foundation has announced that it will distribute $30,000 among the 12 award recipients of 13 prizes in the 2023 edition of its annual Awards for Emerging Screen Composers.

“SOCAN Foundation believes in celebrating the achievements of young emerging artists,” said Charlie Wall-Andrews, SOCAN Foundation Executive Director. “These awards help support and foster the development of talented young SOCAN members across Canada.”

 “The SOCAN Foundation is keen on celebrating the artistic excellence of Canada’s emerging screen composers,” said Executive Director Charlie Wall-Andrews. “We’re confident that this recognition and financial support will help these music creators continue the upward trajectories of their careers.”

These awards showcase Canadian screen composers aged 30 or under for original themes or scores created exclusively for an audiovisual medium (television, film, Internet, etc.). Prizes were awarded in each of the competition’s four categories: Best Original Theme (Opening or Closing) and Best Original Music Awards in the fields of Fiction, Animation, and Documentary. The works submitted were evaluated by juries comprising prestigious Canadian composers Steph Copeland, Caleb Chan, and Anaïs Larocque.


Grand Prize
Maxime Fortin for Après le deluge – Best Original Score – Fiction

Best Original Score – Animation
1st Prize – Greg Mulyk for AquaREEL
2nd Prize – Chiara Yung for Best and Bester are to blame
Honourable Mention – Jordan Andrew for Jitters

Best Original Score – Fiction
1st Prize – Dominic Sambucco for re. azioni
2nd Prize – Kalaisan Kalaichelvanpour for This Place
Honourable Mention – Andrés Galindo Arteaga for Broken Order

Best Original Score – Documentary
1st Prize – Dillon Baldassero for Linda’s Last Trip – Every Tear is a New Birth
2nd Prize – Julien Verschooris for A Disappearing Forest
Honourable Mention—Sasha Leger for Around the Ring Road of Iceland

Best Original Theme (Opening or Closing)
1st Prize – Maxime Fortin for Savoirs Légendaires
2nd Prize – Alexandra Petkovski for Happily Undead After
Honourable Mention – Nicholas Nausbaum for Burnt

More information on the winners of the SOCAN Foundation awards

Application deadlines for the 2024 competitions will be posted on the SOCAN Foundation website in the early months of 2024.

Longtime hit-making SOCAN member Terry Sawchuk and veteran Canadian music industry executive Brian Hetherman have partnered to form 49th Entertainment, in order to amplify Canadian talent to U.S. and global audiences, in collaboration with Warner Music for North American distribution. With Sawchuk in Nashville and Hetherman in Toronto, this strategic alliance is a full-service initiative that encompasses a music label, artist management, music production, and a fan community engagement platform.

Sawchuk, who’s collaborated with the likes  of Alanis Morissette, Jake Owen, Sara Bareilles, and Phil Collins, is most recognized for co-writing the Billboard No. 1, triple-Platinum song “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” which was named Country Radio’s Song of the Decade in 2021.

Hetherman, the CEO of Curve Music/Cerberus Management, has previously served in such roles such as A&R director at MCA/Universal, Head of Universal Music Publishing, and CEO and Vice President of FACTOR. He’ll oversee operations in Canada. “Teaming up with Terry,” he says, “offers a unique opportunity for artists to make significant impacts in the U.S. and beyond, while also reinforcing our dedication to the Canadian music sphere.”

“The whole goal of it was to work with Canadian artists and save them the time, and the thousands of dollars of fees, and green card application, and 16 years of what I had to go through, to break through in the U.S., and globally,” says Sawchuk. “There is an easier way… There was an opportunity for us to soften the blow to access the international market, and do the hard work to find the talent and develop it.”

Sawchuk anticipates infusing 49th Entertainment – named after the 49th parallel that runs between Canada and the U.S. – with cutting-edge super-fan engagement methods and technology. “With all the noise of social media now, people want value. People will pay to have an experience with an artist,” he says. “I see it as a new opportunity to really engage, and bring that value. Like, when Prince came out in 1978, and you heard this new guy on the radio, if somebody told me that I’d be able to Zoom with him at Paisley Park, I would have mortgaged my house to do it! Nobody gives you that value; that’s not being delivered. It really comes down to the individual artist, how well they know themselves, and what they want their fans to experience.”

The first signing for 49th Entertainment is 19-year-old country-rock artist Carson Janik. Hailing from the Windsor-adjacent municipality of Tecumseh, Ontario, Janik had already made waves on the radio by the age of 14. Says Janik, “I’m thrilled to join forces with 49th Entertainment, and to have the opportunity to collaborate with industry veterans like Brian and Terry. I’m eager to dive in and give my all. This is going to be an exciting journey.”