I remember the snow banks were higher than my sister and I´s heads. The long waits for the late school bus due to the frigid cold or the heavy snow falling and, I remember quite vividly the evenings spent at the cottage watching the sunset from the dock on Long Lake. I remember going hunting with my father and learning how to cook hot dogs on those little propane stoves in the middle of woods in the “Rivière Varte”. I will always remember answering my grandfather that I wanted red hotdogs for dinner or fish that we had caught that morning. I´ll never forget going strawberry picking with my grandmother and then making mousse for dessert.
I also remember being so excited to go to the Foire Brayonne, especially to the “Carré des artisans” where you could see all the amazing objects and crafts created. I remember one time, I must have been about 12 or 13, my father had taken me to the “Carré des artisans”. We ate those phenomenal brochettes teriyaki (my mouth is salivating now just thinking about them!) and we walked around for a little while, this, until my eyes fell upon this necklace with a hand made clay gnome with a precious stone attached. I begged my father to get it for me and, he did. I wore that necklace day and night and did not want to part myself from it.
These are only a macro fraction of the great memories I have of Edmundston. You see, after my parents´ separation, I moved away to Toronto with my mom. I was about 8 or 9 years old when I moved. I remember I was finishing grade 4 at Sacre Coeur where I had the best teachers. My first grade teacher, Mme Loraine, helped me read with those purple dinosaur books. My second grade teacher, Mme Picard was a very kind lady. My third grade teacher, Mme Roy, would help me tie my shoes when I had fell off the monkey bars and broke my arm. I had a neon green cast that year that made showering a nightmare.
I left Edmundston with a heavy heart. I was leaving my family, I was leaving my friends and everything I knew to be familiar. Once in Toronto, I was lost. It was so hot there! And where was the lake and the forest and could we go hunting? Where could I ride my bike and be safe? And what is that language that they speak which I do not understand? Needless to say, I did not like it at first. I missed home. I missed the clean air, the vast space to run around and play outside without the fear of strangers stealing you. I could also speak the same language as everyone around me…
But, as years went by, I learned about new cultures, new foods, I learned English, I excelled in English school and even began my journey to an English university. However, throughout all these years, I still missed the good ol´ Brayon accent, I missed the evening news with Abbe Lanteigne, I missed ployes and chicken stew and my grandmother´s desserts. Nothing compared to Edmundston. Nothing!
Fast forward to my bold and ripe twenty-two years of age. I had graduated from Waterloo University in Ontario and I moved to Montreal with a bus ticket, a suitcase, $1000 in my pocket and a head full of dreams. I already felt a bit more at home, well, not home but the feeling of being around people who spoke French was extremely comforting to me. I began to work and eventually I decided to begin my Master's Thesis. I chose to attend Concordia University and when the time came to pick my Thesis topic, I knew I needed to write and research a topic I was passionate about or else, I would not survive those two grueling years. I thought and thought and thought and, my sister told me ¨Well, why don't you write about something close to your heart?¨
My history is something I had always been extremely proud of. That weird accent people noticed, or my Acadian flag hanging in my room or the flag sewn onto my backpack. I loved my history, I loved learning about it and how, through centuries, we fought so hard to keep this precious culture alive. It fascinated me. So much so, that I dedicated two whole years of my life to writing about the birth of Modern Art in Acadia. I bought all the books on Acadian history that I could find. I read them all with great enthusiasms and, I was amazed by how much our people had gone through throughout the years. We, the Brayons and Acadians truly are a remarkable people.
Once my thesis was completed, sent and published, I felt this sort of void, an emptiness. I had worked so hard on something and now it was done...What do I do now? Do I go back to Toronto? Do I move to Edmundston? Or, do I travel the world?
I chose the latter.
I decided to move. I decided to move very far away, to Spain.
Now, keep in mind that I had spent my childhood in Edmundston, my teenage years in Toronto and my young adult life in Montreal. So, I had been around different cultures, different people, different mentalities, I thought Spain was something easy to conquer at this point. Boy, was I ever wrong!
No one speaks English, let alone French. The food is good but nothing like ployes or chicken stew and the heat, oh my god, the HEAT! I couldn't take it. I´d imagine myself at the lake and even those thoughts wouldn't do me any good. It was miserable at first.
I then started working in an office with a multicultural personel. Everyone came from everywhere, except, Canada. No one knew where New Brunswick was let alone knew who the Acadians were or the Brayons. I felt, so little. But then, I began to make friends with people from France and even though they constantly make fun of the way I talk, the funny words I use or the swear words, they constantly ask me about the accent, to explain to them what things mean and, sometimes, I even hear them use some of my expressions (which sounds funny with a French accent!).
I had the opportunity to speak of my people, my region, our food and our culture and they were quite interested. One of the French guys whom is from the North of France even knows about our history, which, is fantastic.
You see, it's these little moments in your life that remind you how important it is to cherish the places you come from, the place I will always call home. No matter where I am, or will be around this globe, I will always know where I come from, I will always be proud of the way I speak, I will never, ever stop eating chicken stew and ployes, some of my best memories were made in Edmundston and, I will never let those fade away from my memory.
Edmundston, you´re cold in the winter and not very hot in the summer but you´ll always have a sacred place in my heart.