SUMMERSIDE – One year from now Acadians from across the globe will descend on Summerside in a celebration of heritage, reunion and community.
“The Congrès Mondial Acadien is a gathering of Acadians from around the world. And due to our history and the Acadian Expulsion, we were separated. But people are so excited to come together again and celebrate our history,” said Claudette Theriault.
Theriault, a native of Abram-Village, is the president of the Congrès. Recently the Congrès held a press conference in Summerside to update Islanders about the event and announce details.
The event runs from Aug. 10 to 24 in eight Island locations as well as 12 New Brunswick locations. Next year marks the 25th anniversary of the Congrès.
“We are very proud to have the city of Summerside among the host municipalities. [The] host communities will be featured with their own programming, along with concerts, family reunions, themed conferences, activities for youth and contemporary artistic disciplines.”
Recently, Theriault returned from a trip to France to advance the Congrès and to participate in other Acadian festivals.
“We did a lot of social media. I was part of several presentations in four different regions in France. There was really a buzz about the conference. People are very interested in coming to the grounds of their Acadian ancestors. It’s a dream come true for some.”
Theriault guesses that the family reunion component of the Congrès will draw about 30,000 people.
Jenny Richard, an Island volunteer with the Congrès, says the event holds a special place in her heart.
“I grew up in a small Acadian community with my whole family nearby who are also Acadian. I grew up on the food and lived with the music, so I like to celebrate my heritage. I’m really looking forward to seeing the family reunions take place.
“It’s a special event because I’ve found that a lot of people who aren’t familiar with P.E.I. don’t realize we have this culture present in our communities,” said Richard.
Father Eddie Cormier and Marie Arsenault believe the Congrès is an important celebration.
“The Acadian Expulsion was a major upheaval. It sent us everywhere. We’re recognizing that there are Acadians in France, in P.E.I., in Louisiana, all over the globe. And like all of the other [Congrès], it allows us to participate in a number of different ways. It’s very important to the local area of Acadians,” said Cormier.
“It really creates a spirit of unity as Acadians. It also strengthens our desire to really promote the appreciation of our culture. Our history has helped with our sense of identity.
“Our history has helped us grow… Notre histoire nous a grandis,” Arsenault said, quoting a lyric from one of her sister Angèle’s song.
The Congrès Mondial Acadien 2019 kicks off on Aug. 10 in Abram-Village.
Island dates for Congrès Mondial Acadien:
– Aug. 10: Abram-Village
– Aug. 11: Tignish and Wellington
– Aug. 12: Souris and Charlottetown
– Aug. 13: Summerside and North Rustico
– Aug. 14 Miscouche
– Aug. 15: Miscouche (morning only)