Statement made on 29 April 2010 by Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool (retired)
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool:
Honourable senators, it is with great pleasure and particular pride as an Acadian that I rise today to pay tribute to a great Acadian, author Antonine Maillet.
This grande dame of Acadian literature and French-language theatre will be honoured on Saturday evening at the Soirée des Éloizes 2010 in Moncton. At this premier Acadian cultural event, Antonine Maillet will receive the tribute award, which is presented to an Acadian who has distinguished herself through her commitment to promoting the arts, the scope of her work or her outstanding artistic vision.
Honourable senators, most of you know who Antonine Maillet is, and for good reason. In a literary career that has spanned more than half a century and shows no sign of winding down, even though she is now over 80, this child of Bouctouche has written nearly 20 novels, of which the most popular are likely Mariaagélas and Pélagie-la-Charrette.
She has also written or translated nearly 15 plays, including the well-known works Gapi et Sullivan and Évangéline Deusse. She is also the author of three collections of short stories and a humorous tourist guide to Acadia. But I would be remiss if I did not mention her best-known work, immortalized by a former colleague of ours, the honourable Viola Léger. La Sagouine, a series of monologues, is currently running in Toronto.
Former provincial premier Louis J. Robichaud gave Acadian New Brunswickers a political voice. But it was Antonine Maillet who gave Acadia a cultural and social voice, and she still does to this day.
The commitment and passion that have inspired her for so long have been recognized with numerous honours, decorations and awards. The most prestigious of these include the Governor General's Award, which she won in 1972 for her novel Don l'Orignal, and the Prix Goncourt, which she received in 1979 — the first such award presented to a Canadian — for her novel Pélagie-la-Charrette.
She is a Companion of the Order of Canada and a Member of the Order of New Brunswick, and France has honoured her several times by appointing her an Officier des Palmes académiques, an Officier des Arts et lettres, a Commander of the National Order of Merit and an Officer of the Order of the Legion of Honour. A National Film Board co-production of Ginette Pellerin's film Antonine Maillet — The Possibilities Are Endless has just been released.
Honourable senators, I invite you to join me in congratulating Antonine Maillet on everything she has accomplished to date and in encouraging her in everything she hopes to do in the future.