Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)
MONCTON, New Brunswick – More than 300 events are planned for roughly 60 communities that dot New Brunswick’s Acadian coast as the World Acadian Congress prepares to bring its people home.
Board members of the Congress announced Friday the details for 17 days of events in August that will bring together 91 Acadian families.
“This will be the most important event for the Acadian Peninsula that we have seen and will see for decades and decades,” said organizing committee chair Jean-Guy Rioux. “It will be one of the greatest events.”
The congress, held every five years, is a massive gathering of Acadians from all over the world.
The first congress was held in Moncton in 1994, followed by Louisiana in 1999 and several locations in Nova Scotia in 2004.
A record number of families already have confirmed they will make the pilgrimage to the Acadian peninsula for this year’s reunion bash, which runs Aug. 7-23.
“We think that the Acadian Peninsula will at least double its population during the congress,” Rioux said. “It will be the celebration of all celebrations.”
Four major events will mark this fourth World Acadian Congress.
The opening day will begin with the “Walk of Acadia” with thousands expected to travel from Miscou Island and Lamèque to Shippagan on ancient trails blazed first by aboriginal peoples.
“This walk will celebrate today’s vitality of the Acadian people, the first French-speaking settlers of America,” said artistic director René Cormier.
A group from France will bring soil from the original regions of the Acadian people to commemorate the journey.
Shippagan will shut down its main street for a celebration of Acadian culture before an opening show entitled ‘Racines Oceans’ that features a broad sampling of the world’s best Acadian artists and performers.
Caraquet will be center stage on August 15 for the Acadian National Holiday with a mega-show to take place between the ruins of the old convent and an historic church.
Ode à l’Acadie, Radio Radio, 1755, Fayo, Rosemarie Landry, Pascal Lejeune, Annie Blanchard, Donat Lacroix and Cayouche are among the performers.
In addition, Espace 2009, a place for meeting and innovation in the heart of the Acadian Peninsula, will be a central gathering location.
A village is now under construction in Pokemouche to house continuous showcases of Acadian technology, innovation, cuisine, art, culture and community for the majority of the congress.
Other highlights will be a youth gathering which will welcome Governor General Michaëlle Jean. Francophone women from across Canada and from Louisiana and France will discuss their role in society during a two-day women’s forum.
Hundreds of other events are planned, including lobster dinners in Caraquet, trips on the water with Tabisintac fisherman, square dancing in Paquetville, bird watching in Bertrand and a workshop on Mi’kmaq hunting in Burnt Church.
Tens of thousands of Acadians will then take part in a massive send-off in Tracadie-Sheila and Neguac on Aug. 23.
“And if you don’t have a family celebrating, we encourage you to join one,” Rioux said.