Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Larry’s River woman honoured for work promoting French language, culture

  • April 19 2023
  • By Lois Ann Dort    

LARRY’S RIVER — For the second time in its brief history, a resident of Larry’s River has received the Lieutenant-Governor’s Award of Excellence for l’Acadie and the Francophonie of Nova Scotia, which was created by Nova Scotia’s Lt.-Gov. Arthur J. LeBlanc in 2020.

On April 12, Jennifer Delorey of Larry’s River, Guysborough County received the award in the Francophile category — defined as someone who is not francophone, but who supports or promotes the French language and culture; an honour also bestowed upon Larry’s River native Jude Avery in 2021.

LeBlanc said of this year’s recipients of the award, “Their efforts have not only contributed to the francophone community, but also to the preservation, promotion and enhancement of our important Acadian history, culture and heritage.”

Delorey spoke to The Journal on April 14 about the award, and her continued work to promote and preserve Acadian culture in the Larry’s River area.

She said she was nominated for the award by a community member and felt, “very humble and very proud at the same time; and of course, everyone feels that they’re not deserving.”

Many would dispute that sentiment. Delorey has been a driving force over the past year-and-a-half in the push for a French language school in Larry’s River. She’s the chair of the parent’s group on the project and has worked closely with the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Nouvelle-Écosse (CSAP, the Francophone school board for Nova Scotia) to bring the project forward.

In addition, this year Delorey has taken on the role of vice-president of La Société Acadienne de Torbé; a non-profit volunteer organization representing Acadians who live in, or have links and interest in, the Tor Bay region of Guysborough County. The society is working on developing a cultural centre for the area.

Delorey told The Journal, “Both of those projects will hopefully make a significant difference to preserving the language and culture for our Acadian region.”

While nominated in the Francophile category, Delorey’s family tree is populated with Francophones (French language speakers).

“I was born and raised in Larry’s River; my family are French. My grandparents spoke French in the home the whole time I was growing up. My parents speak a little bit of French – my Dad more than my Mom. And then I married a local boy…his parents are French; grandparents spoke French in the home.”

But Delorey said, “We didn’t have that opportunity in our generation to learn the language.”

The culture, she said, was always something her family has taken part in, including the local Acadian festival – Festival Savalette.

She added, “My son and myself have taken part in the Acadian society, him longer than myself. It was his passion to learn the language that drew me to the cause of what can we do about this now that we have youth showing an interest.”

Asked to describe the importance of these awards, Delorey said, “I think it is very important. We always knew we were Acadian – and the rest of the province, until 2020, for the most part didn’t know we existed…but we knew, and we held our culture very near and dear to us. It’s all been a part of who I am and who my family is for generations. It is very humbling and very rewarding to be in this circle now.

She added, “In all of our discussions working with the school and working within the government systems, all of the government departments seem to have us on their radar. Whereas before they had never heard of the community of Larry’s River.”

At the award ceremony, the Lt. Governor’s wife, Patsy, asked Delorey’s son Kyle – who has been attending the CSAP school in Pomquet this past year – a question in French.

“And he answered her in French,” said Delorey, adding, “That was really nice for me to see the fruits of his labour come out so easily for him in such a short time.”