The Coopérative du regroupement des organismes francophones de Thunder Bay (ROFTB Inc.) is a multipartner stakeholder incorporated on March 10, 2000, by seven (7) local francophone organizations. Its aim was and remains to own and ensure together the management of a building in Thunder Bay, Ontario, in order to provide the francophones with the services they need. The co-operative was created by six (6) members : the Association des francophones du Nord-Ouest de l’Ontario (AFNOO), the Club culturel francophone de Thunder Bay (formerly called Le Club Canadien Français de Thunder Bay), Centr’Elles, Féminin Pluri-Elles, Novocentre and L’Accueil francophone de Thunder Bay. Recently, the Réseau du mieux-être francophone du Nord de l’Ontario (RMEFNO) joined the co-operative.
In December 2000, ROFTB Inc. acquired a building located on Court Street in Thunder Bay that could be renovated thanks to a grant from FedNor. The premises, called the « Centre des francophones », soon became a place for the francophonie to grow and for services and programs in French to be promoted, both in Thunder Bay and in Northwestern Ontario.
Over the past decade, the variety of services, programs and activities offered by the members of the coopérative increased, along with the number of permanent staff required. The Centre des francophones was no longer an appropriate place to host ROFTB Inc. members and their activities that attracted more and more people.
From 2009 on, several feasability studies, business plans and projects were considered regarding the development of a new multi-service francophone centre, as well as a low-cost housing co-operative for francophone elders and that would be attached to the centre. This housing co-operative is a distinct entity that was incorporated in 2012 and pursues its activities.
After six years of studies and research. ROFTB Inc. members agreed on purchasing the building located on 234 Van Norman Street, that would offer the community many more opportunities to thrive. A fundraising campaign was successfully led to cover the cost of renovating the building and creating three meeting rooms that are now available for rent. A reviewed mission statement was issued by the Board in 2015.
Several grant applications were submitted and funding came from various federal and provincial minitries. Major renovations were started and renters moved in the new Centre francophone in September 2015. The large meeting room, however, remained in a poor condition. ROFTB Inc. decided to launch a fundraising campaign. From March to December 2016, no less than $77,000 was raised. This amount, along with a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, was used to renovate the room. About a hundred people are expected to the Centre francophone Grand Opening on June 2nd, 2017.