LARRY’S RIVER: A resident here recently received a prestigious honour.
On March 19, Jude Avery of Larry’s River was announced as one of six recipients of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence for l’Acadie and Francophonie of Nova Scotia.
“I feel humbled, flattered and great,” Avery told The Reporter. “I received an email saying that my name had been put forward and that I had been selected. I had no idea where this came from. I came to discover that it was kind of a local movement that was started here by people who wanted to put my name forward for recognition for everything that I’ve done.”
Avery said his involvement with the Acadian culture started “at birth” but it flourished when he started his teaching career in 1973 in Pomquet.
Avery said this translated into helping organize the first Winter Carnival in Pomquet in 1974 which continues to this day.
“It was basically designed, like most winter carnivals, to bring out the culture and the stories, the history, the folklore, and to celebrate it, and that’s exactly what it was all about,” he noted. “We brought out the culture, in terms of music, food, past-time activities, down to the attire, and so on.”
After returning to Larry’s River, Avery served on the board of directors of la Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse (FANE) for seven years. Then he started Le carnival de tamarin, another winter festival, and helped revive the mid-Lenten celebration La Mi-carême.
In 2002, Avery and other volunteers started planning for the 2004 World Acadian Congress in Nova Scotia.
“I became very involved in the local celebrations here,” he noted. “For two years, we planned and organized, and so on. We hosted – by provincial standards, and I was told this by provincial organizers – that we had organized one of the best celebrations in the province. We celebrated the whole period of the Congres Mondial. We did the re-enactment of the arrival of the first Acadians to the Tor Bay shores from Chezzetcook. We had two big gala dances…”
The Guysborough County events were so successful, they resulted in an annual celebration Le Festival de la Savalette, which started in 2005, Avery said.
To remind tourists and local residents about the Acadian history of the area, a park was built detailing Acadian history from their origins in France, settlement in Port Royal, the deportation, the resettlement at Chezzetcook, then their arrival in Guysborough County.
“There’s a series of 10 paintings on rock which is very unique,” Avery said. “You won’t find that anywhere else. There are bilingual interpretive panels that explain each painting and it tells a complete history of the Acadians.”
The third project for the area was a resource centre to allow people to do research on their ancestry, using genealogy programs, Avery said, noting the centre includes a “Salle Acadien.”
In addition to volunteering, Avery is an author who wrote the historical book Forgotten Acadians in 2019, with plans to publish the book Joie de vivre in June.
The award, created in August 2020 by Lieutenant Governor Arthur J. LeBlanc, recognizes people whose social, economic or cultural contributions have made a difference in the francophone community and in Nova Scotia as a whole, according to the Office of Acadian Affairs.
A native of West Arichat, LeBlanc is the first Acadian to hold the position of Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia
“That’s a real honour,” Avery said. “To know that our people have reached the pinnacle of success, and that they are now making important decisions on our behalf, I think it’s a true honour and a milestone.”
The province said the award recognizes outstanding citizens across three categories: a francophone; a Francophile – someone who is not francophone but supports and promotes French language and culture; and a youth recipient under the age of 25. For the inaugural offering, the province said two recipients per category were selected and in all subsequent years there will be one recipient per category.
The province said the recipients were selected by an independent selection committee comprised of representatives from Université Sainte-Anne, la FANE, Alliance Francaise Halifax, the Office of Acadian Affairs and Francophonie, a francophone recipient of the Order of Nova Scotia or Order of Canada, and a youth member. In future years, the province said the committee will include a former recipient of the award.
The recipients will be recognized at a ceremony at Government House at a date to be announced.
In the meantime, Avery said he is working on a third book and will continue to serve on the organizing committee for Festival de la Savalette. He added he also accepts offers to make public speeches and presentations in the local area.