The origin of a Belgian newspaper in North America
There are an estimated one million Americans of Belgian descent. Hundreds of thousands Canadians have also Belgian roots. So North America has a lot of people who have Belgian blood. Through the years there were many initiatives to maintain the link with the former homeland. One was the foundation of the Gazette van Detroit.
The first issue was published on 13 August 1914, nine days after the invasion of Belgium by the Germans. Until 1918 this weekly newspaper was often the only source of information about the war in Belgium, the home of many who had just emigrated. They eagerly looked forward to read how hard the war struck with relatives and friends, and whether they would ever see them again. At first the newspaper was published in Dutch (the first generation was brought up with that language), afterwards in a mixture of Dutch and English, because the children of expatriates know English better.
The newspaper now
Now, 99 years later, the Gazette van Detroit is still the link between emigrants and their (former) country and vice versa. It is the only Belgian newspaper in North America, read on both sides of the Atlantic. It is enriching for both cultures and its bilingualism is an educational asset. It always has been a fine example of networking. The newspaper has a good name and retrieves the social, cultural and commercial ties between the two worlds. It offers a different view on the world: portraits with deeper content (interesting interviews with famous Belgians such as Cardinal Danneels or EU President Van Rompuy), genealogical articles (in many regions in Belgium everyone knows someone whose family emigrated in the last century), old recipes, stories of the past, language tips, etc. The Gazette van Detroit completely relies on volunteers.