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Acadian event in Tignish, P.E.I., brings folks back to their roots

Angela Gallant, daughter of Hector Richard and Melinda Doucette, dressed to remember her Acadian heritage.
Angela Gallant, daughter of Hector Richard and Melinda Doucette, dressed to remember her Acadian heritage. - Desiree Anstey

While many people at the outdoor carnival Sunday afternoon in Tignish donned the colours of Acadia, Angela Gallant wore something a little different.

Dressed in a long, flowing dress, topped with a white bonnet reminiscent of the 18th century Acadian attire, she weaved her way through the crowd with a sense of belonging and pride.

“This costume is representative of the time of the expulsion of acadians. It’s what the women would have worn,” said Gallant. “I got this outfit from the Confederation Centre of the Arts, but my ancestors were on the first vessel that came to the Island.”

But in the face of deportation, Gallant’s ancestors showed resilience, courage, and determination. Against great odds, the Acadians defended their culture, language, and traditions and built prosperous communities on P.E.I., then known as Isle Saint-Jean, in the early 1700s.

Today, places such as Tignish, the Evangeline region, Miscouche, Rustico and Souris, as well as the larger communities of Summerside and Charlottetown, are part of the larger P.E.I. Acadian community.

“My ancestors came from Cascumpec over to Tignish, so it’s great to be here and learn more about my heritage,” Gallant continued. “This event makes me feel so close to (my ancestors), especially my grandmother, Victorie Boete.”

The outdoor carnival is part of the Congrès mondial acadien (CMA or World Acadian Congress). The event is a celebration of Acadians everywhere. Music, displays, oyster shucking by Robert Pendergast, local vendors, children's games, and wagon and pony rides were on all afternoon.

“It means a lot to us to be here because my husband is French, and this is a celebration of our culture. A lot of people have been enjoying the rides, and we have met people from all over Canada,” said CarolAnne Arsenault, who was in charge of the wagon and pony rides at the carnival.

The Tignish Legion continued the festivities inside with a music jam and Acadian dinner, and the Tignish Parish Centre hosted a bilingual dinner theatre.

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