Tuesday, May 28, 2024

New name chosen for Acadian school

  • March 6 2024
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

LARRY’S RIVER — A mere five months after it flung wide its doors, the Tor Bay region’s French language public school has a new name its founders say captures the history and hopes of an entire community: École Belle-Baie.

“The big thing and the reason why we’re all thrilled with it is that the villages here all surround the bay,” says Nicole Avery-Bell, principal of what has been known simply as École à Torbé since it welcomed its first students – all 20 of them, from pre-primary to Grade 9 – in this picturesque Acadian enclave on Sept. 20.

“So, the name reflects the geographic reality of the area. The bay is what has allowed us to survive here. It has a lot of significance to us.”

The big reveal came on March 1, during a celebration that Avery-Bell says had been originally scheduled to support the achievements of Kyle Delorey, a Grade 10 student who attends both École acadienne de Pomquet and the freshly christened École Belle-Baie.

“Kyle, who is a multi-talented young man, submitted a sample copy of his [own] music and was chosen to represent his school and this area of our province in the Acadian school board, Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial (CSAP)’s province-wide concert of their stars, known as les Étoiles du CSAP on March 7,” she explains. “And then, suddenly, our new name was officially announced, so we ended up combining the two celebrations.”

All of which may be a testament to the self-determination of the community that’s accustomed to keeping many balls in the air to preserve and champion Acadian culture and language in this region of Guysborough County. Even the manner of the school’s new name seems to reflect the area’s unique and collective élan.

“We struck a committee which included me, a staff member, two parents, the communications officer of the school board and another board member,” Avery-Bell says. “The public submitted over 20 [suggested names], and the committee short-listed that down to five. We then sent those to the elected school board to choose the name ... The winner didn’t even come from somebody in the region. It came from a teacher in Antigonish, who is an Acadian.”

Joining the celebrations – which highlighted Delorey’s music samples and well wishes from the school and the region – was Emmanuel Nahimana, deputy director general of la Fédération Acadienne de la Nouvelle Écosse [Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia].

Reports Avery-Bell: “M. Nahimana is originally from Burundi and a great supporter of all that transpires in Nova Scotia when it comes to French promotion. According to M. Nahimana, all eyes are on our area as they watch us rise and take our place in the Francophonie tapestry. He also added that Kyle is a hero and will be a great ambassador to our area. For a new école francophone, he was very impressed and touched by what he saw and experienced. With this foundation, he foresees nothing but success and a great future for this school. ‘You have planted the seed, and it is growing.’”