FORT KENT, Maine – Lise Pelletier has a passion, and this month the director of the Acadian Archives at the University of Maine at Fort Kent was recognized for her work by being named Radio-Canada/Atlantic’s Personality of the Week.
Radio-Canada is Canada’s largest national public broadcaster with a wide range of radio, television and Internet satellite services. Each week the broadcaster’s Atlantic affiliate spotlights an individual.
For her part, Pelletier was recognized for her efforts in keeping the region’s French language alive and advocating for Acadian culture in the St. John Valley.
“It’s always exciting when you are given credit in the outside world for the work you do in your own local place,” Pelletier said. “I was very surprised and honored by the recognition from Radio-Canada.”
Pelletier, an alumna of University of Moncton in Edmundston, got hooked on Acadian literature and culture while she took classes at UMFK for 2½ years as an exchange student.
As director of the archives she now works to preserve and celebrate that language and culture.
“It’s really part of the mission of the university,” she said. “It’s a happy marriage for me in which I can explore my passion [for Acadian culture] through my job.”
Pelletier said the university administration is very supportive of her work and encourages her creativity within her position at the archives.
“I like that we are taking charge of our own history,” Pelletier said. “I like that I am allowed to carry the story of Acadians to the rest of Maine.”
According to historical accounts, the Acadians of the St. John Valley are descended from those deported from the Acadie region of Nova Scotia by the British from 1755 to 1762.
The 2½ centuries since then, Pelletier said, have seen a struggle to preserve their language, culture and way of life.
That’s were the archives come in.
“We have many research projects focused on the St. John Valley,” Pelletier said. “Plus we do many exhibits here at the archives.”
Pelletier is looking forward to starting a French language immersion program at the archives in addition to starting a museum focusing on Acadian artifacts.
Pelletier is also a member of the international organizing committee for the 2014 World Acadian Congress coming to the region in three years.
“The Radio-Canada recognition is wonderful,” she said. “It’s a beautiful thing for the archives to be recognized this way.”
Correction: An early version of this story incorrectly identified Lise Pelletier as an alumna of the University of Maine at Fort Kent. She took classes at UMFK as an exchange student for 2½ years while pursuing bachelor’s degrees in French and English at the University of Moncton's Edmundston campus.