Excitement already building for Acadian Congrès 2019
More than 100,000 people will descend on Prince Edward Island and southeast New Brunswick in 2019 for the Congrès Mondial Acadien (World Acadian Congress) August 10 to 24, and organizer Claudette Thériault says the event will have an earth-shaking impact the region’s culture and economy.
Held every five years since 1994, the Congrès brings together Acadians from around the world, especially Atlantic Canada, Quebec, New England, France, and Louisiana. Celebrations include music (traditional and new), Acadian cuisine, history, genealogy, family reunions, conferences, youth activities and a chance to visit Acadian communities across the region.
“Everyone is welcome, people who are Acadian at heart, people who are curious, new immigrants to PEI -- we want them all to feel welcome and there is a place for them here,” said Thériault, chair of the organizing committee for CMA2019. She said people come for different reasons, but one of the most common is family reunions.
“We have a lot of people looking to rediscover roots. There are Whites that used to be LeBlancs, Wedges that used to be Aucoins – they come looking to understand more about where they came from,” she said. “We welcome them all, with services in French as well as English.”
There will be 20 Acadian communities involved - eight in Prince Edward Island and 12 in New Brunswick.
“We went to where the Acadian and francophone community is present. Each community has a chance to take part in its own way, to show its character,” Thériault said. “The build-up to the event, the road to get here, can be as important as the event itself. We encourage the communities to work together so that each has a chance to show something that is unique and true to them.”
Along with other provincial and federal partners, Prince Edward Island will provide $1 million in funding to the World Acadian Congress.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan, who is minister of Acadian and Francophone Affairs, said the Congrès will be a chance for Prince Edward Island to showcase the vibrant Acadian culture across the Island.
“The Acadian and Francophone Community is a vital part of the Island’s cultural fabric,” he said. “This gathering will have economic, social and cultural benefits for the entire Island community.”
Thériault said she has seen the way past Congrès have boosted interest in the Acadian community, Acadian artists, the French language, and regional tourism. She said Acadians and community leaders are already stepping forward as volunteers, performers, and organizers.
“There’s a heightened sense of belonging to the Acadian community and the pride of being part of a major event,” she said. “For PEI it’s certainly an opportunity to make people from around the world aware that there are Acadians and a lively community here.