The Acadian culture will be on full display during the upcoming Congrès Mondial Acadien (CMA) in Tignish on Aug. 11.
Held every five years, this is the 6th edition of the congrès and 2019 will mark the 25th anniversary of the event. During the congrès, Acadians from across the globe will descend on Prince Edward Island and Southeastern New Brunswick to celebrate everything Acadian.
From Aug. 10 - Aug. 24, one day events will be held in several host municipalities, including Tignish. The other host regions in PEI include Wellington, Abram-Village, Miscouche, Summerside, North Rustico, Charlottetown and Souris.
The Town of Tignish has partnered with the Conseil Réverend S.-É.-Perrey to share organizing responsibilities. Eileen Chiasson Pendergast is working with the organizing committee that is planning the Aug. 11 event in Tignish.
Ms Chiasson Pendergast said the congrès is a place where a lot of family reunions happen as the two week event allows the chance for descendants of families torn apart by the Acadian Expulsion of 1764 to reconnect.
“It’s to give Acadians scattered everywhere an opportunity to come together and find relatives and their roots,” she said. “That’s the backbone of it. It has been fleshed out with parties and theatres and dances and all kinds of celebrations, but within that, there’s family reunions held here, there and everywhere.”
Ms Chiasson Pendergast has attended two of the previous congrès herself.
“It’s a beautiful experience,” she said.
With Tignish being founded by eight Acadian families in 1799, the descendants of those families will play a large part in the activities taking place during the CMA in the town. The CMA programming in Tignish begins with a mass at St Simon and St Jude Church at 9 am. From 10 am - 1 pm restaurants in the community will be offering a special CMA menu highlighting favourtie Acadian dishes. Also during that time the Tignish Co-op will be hosting a quilt show. Then from 11 am - 12:15 pm walking music tours of the town will be taking place, featuring descendants of the eight founding families of Tignish. Maps will be made available for the tours, with the first site starting at Bicentennial Park.
From 1 pm - 5 pm, programming moves to the grounds of the West Prince Heritage Properties, with music all afternoon featuring local artists. There will also be children’s games, various food vendors, artisans and plenty more as well as a special performance from Carnaval en promenade at 2 pm.
A dinner theatre at the Tignish Parish Hall on Aug. 11 is sold out, but due to the popular demand, a second show has been added to celebrate National Acadian Day on Aug. 15 at the Centre acadien de Prince-Ouest in DeBlois.
The bilingual play, Quel bout de chemin, was written and directed by Ms Chiasson Pendergast. It features the progression of Acadians of Tignish from yesterday to today. Admission for the second show is free, but there is a limited number of seats available. There is no meal included, however, canteen services will be available.
While the dinner theatre is happening, the Tignish Royal Canadian Legion will be hosting a Music Jam from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm where a delicious Acadian dinner will be served and featuring Acadian music.
With the Congrès Mondial Acadien approaching, the excitement is building in Tignish. The town has taken on the responsibility of decorating the community, the colours of the Acadian flag seen throughout the area, including painted lobster traps. Residents are also decorating their lawns and front porches with the Acadian colours.
Ms Chiasson Pendergast said that excitement has allowed residents to become in touch with their own identity.
“They might not speak the language, but they still have the culture. They still have the roots,” she said. “People are seeing something they haven’t seen before and I don’t think they will forget it... I think it’s going to bring that kind of pride and for me if it does that it’s a success.”