Culture & Community

Photo courtesy of Deb O'Hanley

Prince Edward Island’s Acadian and Francophone community (AFC) is distributed across six geographic regions of the province: West Prince, Evangeline, Summerside-Miscouche, Rustico, Charlottetown and Eastern Kings. While the Evangeline region is today considered the Island’s largest Francophone region, it is important to note that each region has cultivated its own identity and faces specific issues. In cooperation with the regional committees in each of these six regions, the Société Saint-Thomas-d’Aquin (SSTA)—the voice of our community—ensures that the Island’s Acadian, Francophone and Francophile populations maintain day-to-day access to activities and services in French throughout the province.

Additionally, six committees serve at the regional level as “mini-SSTAs.” In this way, each region can be fairly represented in terms of its particular issues and needs. Each centre offers a wide range of activities, events and services in French in conjunction with the Island’s various Francophone organizations. These organizations are mandated to enable all Island Acadians and Francophones to live their entire lives in French from birth through old age. The school-community centres—made up of early years centres (EYCs), French-language schools and community facilities—actively support the community members in living and thriving in French.

Although many objectives have been achieved over the years, many other issues remain to be addressed in the interest of the ongoing development of the Island’s AFC, which has made great strides across many sectors and on many levels over the past 300 years. The AFC’s rapid and dynamic evolution is also, in a way, one of its major challenges; its transformation requires ongoing adaptation on the part of both the community and the above-mentioned organizations. The national debates surrounding the modernization of the Official Languages Act perfectly illustrate this need for adaptation and change within our communities.

Although Prince Edward Island’s AFC has been characterized by ongoing change, it also stands out for its members’ sense of engagement and solidarity. The new decade and the celebrations marking the 300th anniversary come at one of the richest and most eventful periods in the Island’s history from a cultural perspective. The Congrès mondial acadien (World Acadian Congress) in 2019 paved the way for the festivities to come. This once-in-a-lifetime event left all Islanders with feelings of collective joy and pride. Against this backdrop, the entire community is excited about embarking on the next chapter in its history as it looks forward to a promising future full of hope for the years to come.

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