TIGNISH, P.E.I. - Antoinette Perry’s official start Friday to five years of very public life came with plenty of protocol, music, prayer and speeches.
Perry soaked in the ceremony installing her as Prince Edward Island’s 42nd lieutenant-governor with a great deal of toe-tapping joy and with no hint of nerves.
“I certainly experienced every moment of the celebration,’’ Perry told reporters following the morning installation at Tignish Parish Centre.
“I didn’t feel nervous. I was excited.’’
Perry told a room filled with friends, family and dignitaries that she plans to follow in the footsteps of her predecessor Frank Lewis in frequently welcoming people to her new waterfront residence that is tucked back from the Charlottetown boardwalk.
“I will work to ensure that Fanningbank, our Island ceremonial home, will continue to be accessible to Islanders as I host numerous ceremonial events, receptions and open houses,’’ she said.
“I invite you to learn about, connect with and to pass along the stories of Fanningbank. There’s a richness there to discover that I can’t wait to start discovering.’’
Perry spoke in considerable detail of being stricken with Bell’s palsy shortly after retiring from a heralded, lengthy career teaching music and French.
She wants Islanders to know she quickly put aside any self-pity over the condition and notes people should not be alarmed to see her right eye and her mouth droop.
Perry also made clear she enters her new post with an abundance of energy and anticipation.
She looks forward to relishing a variety of artistic expressions at festivals, exhibitions and special events across the province.
She is also keen to present awards of recognition to Islanders who dedicate their lives to the service of others both as professionals and volunteers.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan described Perry as being extremely well equipped to serve as lieutenant-governor, noting the former teacher is proceeding to her biggest classroom ever, one consisting of 152,000 pupils.
“We know she is a lifelong teacher and learner and that is already evident in the way she spoke today,’’ MacLauchlan said following the ceremony.
“I expect that will become a very rich part of how the lieutenant-governor encourages Islanders to grow in that sense over the period of her service. She is also a cultural connoisseur and leader and promoter.’’
Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay drew a loud round of applause when he noted “it’s so nice to see’’ the installation take place in Tignish, marking the first time in the history of Canada that a lieutenant-governor has been sworn in outside of a province’s capital city.
Perry considered the gesture to be quite special.
“People were extremely interested to have it here,’’ she said.
“I am extremely proud of Tignish.’’
And Tignish residents are bursting with pride over Perry receiving the nod to serve as the Queen’s representative as provincial head of state.
“It’s good for the heart and soul,’’ said Bernadette Pedersen, a resident of Tignish who has known Perry for more than 30 years.
Pedersen expects her friend and fellow choir member to engage well with both Islanders and visitors to P.E.I.
“She is very friendly and outgoing,’’ she said.
“She is a people person.’’
Monique Brisson of Moncton studied with Perry at the University of Moncton and has maintained contact with her over the years.
She arrived early Friday morning to ensure a good seat to watch the installation.
“We are just so proud of her,’’ says Brisson.
“She will bring so much to the position…I think she has so many strengths.’’
Sr. Marie Gaudet of Charlottetown was beaming with pride over her former student and long-time friend.
Gaudet taught Perry in Grades 1, 2 and 3, and the pair later were long involved together in the St. Simon and St. Jude Parish.
“Oh, I’m really proud of her – really proud of her,’’ she said.