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The Hon. Grant  Mitchell, B.A., M.A., C.F.A. Senator Grant Mitchell has had careers in the public service, business and politics in Alberta. He was appointed by former Prime Minister Paul Martin in March, 2005.

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The Acadian Flag — Inquiry

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Statement made on 26 May 2010 by Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool (retired)

Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool:

Honourable senators, I am pleased and proud to rise today to speak about the inquiry launched by my colleague, the honourable Senator Robichaud, concerning the Acadian flag. Senator Robichaud spoke about this flag as a symbol that brings people together, and the honourable Senator Champagne used that same theme in reference to the Acadians of Louisiana. I would now like to talk about the most visible and audible expression of Acadians in the Atlantic provinces: their culture.

Since our Acadian flag first became an immediately recognizable symbol, many of our artists have used their creations to rally our society and our friends. I am particularly interested in the most captivating and characteristic cultural disciplines of Atlantic Canada's Acadia: theatre, music — both popular and classical — and literature, especially poetry.

If you have heard about Acadian artists, honourable senators, chances are that they work in one of these areas or perhaps even several.

Let us start with theatre, which gave us the wonderful Viola Léger, the immortal Sagouine and one of our former colleagues. Theatre also gave us Myriam Cyr, Denise Bouchard, Christian Essiambre and René Cormier. They often portray people from our area, giving them a voice, giving them life once again and giving us all goose bumps during each of their performances. And those characters are the work of talented playwrights such as Antonine Maillet, Emma Haché and Marcel-Romain Thériault. The characters usually live at the Théâtre populaire d'Acadie in Caraquet or the theatre in Escaouette when not on one of the numerous school or community stages.

Let us now turn to popular music, which is played on community radio stations in Acadia as well as on commercial radio and sometimes even on Radio-Canada or the CBC. You must have heard of at least one of the following popular singers, who are among the best our Acadia has produced: Roch Voisine, Christian KIT Goguen, Danny Boudreau, Wilfred LeBouthillier, Pascal Lejeune — who was performing in France last week — Zachary Richard, our Cajun cousin from Louisiana, Jean-François Breau, Sandra Le Couteur and Angèle Arsenault from Prince Edward Island, who takes us back to Grand Pré when she sings C'est là que tout a commencé.

And we must not forget Natasha St-Pier, Lina Boudreau, Marie-Jo Thério, Annie Blanchard, Edith Butler, Calixte Duguay and Donat Lacroix, with his anthem Viens voir l'Acadie. Some of these artists also belong to well-known groups such as 1755, Ode à l'Acadie, Barachois, Quatuor Musica Mundi and La Virée. These groups have become synonymous with Acadia, and their concerts are always sold out.

While I think of it, if you want to discover our singers in the comfort of your living room, honourable senators, visit the website of Distributions Plages, an Acadian record store that distributes recordings by a number of these artists. Many of our singers write their own material, proving that Acadia is a major source of inspiration for the poetry and literature of its native sons and daughters.

Acadians love to write, to write well and to write beautiful words. The proof is in the works of some of our best-known poets: Gérard Leblanc, former New Brunswick Lieutenant-Governor Herménégilde Chiasson, Clarence Comeau, Fredrik Gary Comeau, Jean-Mari Pître, Claude LeBouthillier, Serge Patrice Thibodeau, Calixte Duguay and Dyane Léger.

If rhyme is not to your taste, pick up a novel or essay and discover David Lonergan, Anselme Chiasson from Nova Scotia, Françoise Enguehard from Newfoundland and Labrador, whose wonderful book L'archipel du docteur Thomas connects Acadia with St-Pierre and Miquelon, Herménégilde Chiasson, our Prix Goncourt winner, Antonine Maillet, or Rose Després. These authors and poets and many more are published by Bouton d'or Acadie, Les Éditions de la Francophonie, La Grande Marée, Éditions d'Acadie and Éditions Perce-Neige. You can also meet them and have them autograph a book for you at the Salon du livre de la Péninsule or one of the book fairs in Edmundston or Dieppe, the Fureur de Lire festival in Moncton, the Northrop Frye International Literary Festival or the Festival acadien de poésie.

Is classical music more to your taste? Why not take in a concert by the excellent Choeur de la Mission Saint-Charles, the vocal ensemble Douce Harmonie conducted by Émé Lacroix or the famous Choeur Neil-Michaud? Or would you prefer to listen to New Brunswick's great opera singers who have performed on the most prestigious stages in the world? There is Anna Malenfant who sings the beautiful Mon Acadie, ma douce that will touch your heart. I could also mention Gloria Richard and Rosemarie Landry as well as young international stars including Suzie LeBlanc, Nathalie Paulin, Pascale Beaudin and Michèle Losier. By the way, I encourage you to read the most recent issue of Air Canada's enRoute magazine for its profile of Michèle Losier on page 43.

Classical music may be perceived as more elitist than popular music, but that does not seem to matter to the crowds that take in the concerts at the Baie-des-Chaleurs international chamber music festival or the ever popular international baroque music festival in Lamèque. And what can I say about the album sales of guitarist and lute player Michel Cardin, the concerts by harpsichord players Anne Dugas and Mathieu Duguay, or the enviable reputation of the late violinist Arthur LeBlanc who left his name to a still-active quartet based at the Université de Moncton?

Honourable senators, our Atlantic Acadian culture is alive and well. It is vibrant and exciting. It brings us together. It centres us. It reminds us of our roots. It comforts us and makes us proud and happy. It represents us so well to the rest of Canada and the world that we would not want it any other way.

I named a number of our artists, but I left out at least as many and I apologize to them. There are so many it would be impossible to name them all. In closing, I hope you will discover these artists and learn to love our Acadia as much as I do.


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