Statement made on 17 June 2009 by Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool (retired)
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool :
Honourable senators, I promise you that my speech will be refreshing.
It is with much pleasure and great pride that I rise today to tell you about a very exciting event that will soon take place in New Brunswick and the entire Atlantic region. That event is the fourth World Acadian Congress, which will be held in the place I call home, the Acadian Peninsula, from August 7 to 23, 2009.
Each World Acadian Congress brings together Acadians and francophones from all over the world. People from every Canadian province and territory will be there, along with people from Louisiana, New England and elsewhere.
I believe it was Antonine Maillet, our Prix Goncourt winner, who said, "Wherever there is one Acadian, there is Acadia."
Some 40,000 people will attend the 2009 World Acadian Congress, nearly doubling the resident population of 55,000 in the hundred or so communities scattered across the Acadian Peninsula.
The first World Acadian Congress was held in 1994 in the Moncton, New Brunswick area. This congress reawakened the pride of the Acadian people in the French language.
This congress also encouraged the francophone people of my province to become more involved in the political and social lives of their communities, and it gave a boost to the cultural life of francophone New Brunswick by sparking the creation of many festivals, book fairs, art galleries and cultural centres.
The 1994 congress was even recognized by UNESCO as one of the activities of the World Decade for Cultural Development. Even more importantly, during that congress, the United Nations Secretary General of the time, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, recognized Acadians as a distinct people.
The second World Acadian Congress was held five years later in 1999 in Louisiana, and the third congress was held in 2004 in various regions of Nova Scotia.
From the outset, the organizers wanted the 2009 World Acadian Congress to usher Acadia into modernity, to involve the communities of the Acadian Peninsula, and to promote the maritime character of my part of the country. From 2006 to 2008, the organizers promoted the congress at every available opportunity, as far away as Poitiers, Louisiana, and Quebec City.
I would like to commend and thank the 2009 World Acadian Congress management team: the president, Jean-Guy Rioux; the executive director, Robert Frenette; and the administrative director, Jacques Lanteigne, just to name a few. I would also like to commend and congratulate Lisette Cormier-Noël, the family reunion coordinator, and the Fédération des femmes acadiennes et francophones du Nouveau-Brunswick.
I would also like to thank the major sponsors, whose generosity has made the 2009 World Acadian Congress possible: the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Government of New Brunswick, the Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes, the Acadie nouvelle newspaper, Acadie Presse, the Web portal CapAcadie.com, and last but not least, all the communities of the Acadian Peninsula.
I would now like to explain why everyone will want to come and visit us on the peninsula in August.
I want my English-speaking colleagues to know that in the Acadian Peninsula we manage in both official languages. While the World Acadian Congress will take place mostly in French, the locals will be able to make you feel welcome in your own language.
The Congress will begin with a ceremony at the Miscou Island lighthouse at 5 a.m. on Friday, August 7. I highly recommend being there, because there is nothing lovelier than sunrise over the Atlantic and because the wind is usually calm at that time of day. Later that morning, we will all parade across the high bridge between Miscou Island and Lamèque in the Marche de l'Acadie. I guarantee that it will take your breath away.
That evening, the Shippagan wharf will be the site of the first concert of the Congress, Racines oceans—l'Acadie accueille, which will showcase our maritime roots and our hospitality as Acadia's greatest musicians get people swinging.
Those interested in business should come learn more about businesses and industries on the Acadian Peninsula during Route des Affaires from August 9 to 11. The World Acadian Congress has organized these tours to strengthen networks between Acadian entrepreneurs everywhere, and we hope that Route des Affaires will result in new business partnerships.
I invite those interested in youth issues to my hometown, Tracadie-Sheila, from August 12 to 17, to participate in the Grand Rassemblement Jeunesse. We are expecting over 400 young people from all over the world who will discuss three major issues: arts and culture, leadership and politics. The patron of the event will be our very own Governor General, the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, who will deliver the opening speech and lead a workshop.
Those who like noise and making noise should check out the Fête nationale de l'Acadie on August 15. They will get a thrill from the decibels and excitement on Caraquet's main street, site of the Grand Tintamarre. This year, with so many visitors in attendance, we expect to see about 40,000 people at the Grand Tintamarre. The day will end with a second fantastic show featuring fireworks called "Tintamarre de feux — le temps de se dire — time to say. . ."
Those who are curious about Acadian innovation and specialties should visit Espace Neuf in Poquemoche from August 16 to 20. Tents will be set up where people can discover all kinds of Acadian products and services, including some delicious culinary specialties.
The 2009 World Acadian Congress will end on August 23 with a closing ceremony in Néguac and with the third and final extravaganza in Tracadie-Sheila, with the theme "With one voice—Acadia comes together".
But these major events at the 2009 World Acadian Congress must not make you miss all the others. Throughout the congress, a number of activities will be held in each community on the peninsula: nature outings; bird-watching sessions; demonstrations of fishing techniques; and exhibitions by "hookers", sculptors and painters, including our own Lieutenant-Governor, multidisciplinary artist Herménégilde Chiasson.
There will be several classical music concerts featuring former and current students of the Conservatoire de musique de l'Acadie. There will even be a bicycle tour of the peninsula from August 10 to 14, for those with strong legs. And I am not even talking about the many other smaller-scale activities, such as concerts by local choirs, lobster feasts and tours of heritage trails.
Speaking of heritage trails, I would like to make a brief aside to invite you to visit two heritage sites in Tracadie-Sheila, my home town. The first is the Académie Sainte-Famille, an enormous, magnificent, historic white building beside the hospital. I went to school there when I was a little girl, and the Académie means a great deal to me and my people in Tracadie.
Although it is no longer a school today, the Académie Sainte-Famille still plays an educational role, because it is home to music classes, the community college and a museum about the second site you must visit, Tracadie's lazaretto. I will bet you did not know that my town housed and treated lepers for many years and had the only lazaretto in eastern Canada.
The first lazaretto opened in 1844, and the last one closed in 1965. For all those years, the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph cared for, loved and cured many residents of the peninsula and foreigners who arrived by ship. The museum tells the story of our lazaretto simply and well. Today, all that remains are a few artefacts and a magnificent cemetery with beautiful wrought-iron crosses.
Go, honourable senators, and discover a facet of our past. If you want to learn more about this page in the history of health care in Canada, I recommend the excellent book by Mary Jane Losier and Céline Pinet entitled Les enfants de Lazare: histoire du lazaret de Tracadie.
As a final point, I would like to quickly point out three other aspects of the 2009 World Acadian Congress that will likely interest you. First, there is the "Grande Jasette" speakers' series. These talks will be held across the peninsula and will give Acadian and francophone personalities the opportunity to talk about current, important issues facing francophones. These talks will be given by the following people: author Rino Morin Rossignol; former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache; Doctor Réjean Thomas; Secretary General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie Abdou Diouf; and poet Raymond Guy Leblanc.
I would also like to draw to your attention the many family reunions that will be taking place during the 2009 World Acadian Congress. At this time, there are 89 families organizing their reunions, which can draw anywhere from a few hundred to over 3,000 participants. The reunions for the Losier family, with all its many spellings, will take place in Saint-Isidore on August 21 and 22, and I will be in attendance. If you have an Acadian-sounding name, why not check the congress' web site to confirm the date and location of your family reunion?
Finally, I would just like to mention that the Women's Summit will be held August 21 and 22, at the Shippagan campus of the Université de Moncton. I will have the honour of attending and giving a speech at this summit, which will bring together Acadian and francophone women from all over the world to discuss common issues and empowerment. Men are also welcome!
I will conclude my plug by inviting you, while you are on the peninsula for the 2009 World Acadian Congress, to try the official wines of the congress made in France. The two red wines are excellent and the sparkling wine is very refreshing when it is hot. I have not yet tasted the two white wines but I plan to give them a try during the congress. And let us not forget that good New Brunswick beer.
While drinking your wine, do not forget to turn on the radio and listen to the theme song of the congress, Enfin retrouvé, written by Daniel Léger from Sainte-Anne. And above all do not forget to take back the souvenir set of five pins for your children or grandchildren.
In anticipation of your trip to my beautiful peninsula in a few weeks, I invite you to have a look at the 2009 Acadian World Congress website at www.cma2009.ca. You will find all the information you need about the activities planned for each day, as well as accommodation if required — if there is any left.
Honourable senators, I thank you for listening and hope to see you in my part of the country.