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Island folklorists receive prestigious Marius Barbeau Medal

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123RF - file photo

Georges Arsenault and John Cousins, two of Prince Edward Island’s most esteemed folklorists, will receive a special honour this week.

They will be presented with the Marius Barbeau Medal by the Folklore Studies Association of Canada/L’Association canadienne d’ethnologie et de folklore.

The medal is given in recognition of remarkable individual contributions to folklore and ethnology through teaching, research, and communication―activities in which both Arsenault and Cousins have excelled. Previous recipients of the Barbeau Medal with fieldwork links to P.E.I. include John Shaw and the late Edward “Sandy” Ives.

From May 25–27, the association will be holding its annual meeting at UPEI in collaboration with the Institute of Island Studies. This year’s theme, “Carried on the Waves: Contemporary Currents in Folklore and Ethnology / Porté par les Vagues: Courants Actuels d’Ethnologie et de Folklore,” inspires researchers to explore the flow of expression among various groups over time and place.

Edward MacDonald, chairman of UPEI’s department of history, says that with the association meeting on P.E.I., it is appropriate to recognize two giants of Prince Edward Island folklore for their career contributions to the collection, study, dissemination and popularization of folklore within this province and beyond.

“Both Georges and John were born into the communities they have studied, giving them the unique perspective that comes from being at the same time both outsiders and insiders in their research,” said MacDonald.” Both live a conviction that scholarship has a responsibility to speak to the general populace, a duty to help us all better understand the culture that forms our mental and physical landscapes.”

Both recipients will be giving free lectures open to the general public as part of the conference. Arsenault will present a lecture in French today, 5-6 p.m., on traditional songs with examples from his fieldwork in P.E.I.’s Acadian communities, entitled “Recueillir, conserver et partager la chanson traditionnelle acadienne de l’Île-du-Prince- Édouard”. It will be held in the Faculty Lounge of UPEI’s SDU Main Building. Cousins will present a lecture from his fieldwork and historical research in West Prince communities and beyond in “The Witch & the Song Maker as Law Givers in Island Farming & Fishing Communities. It will be held May 26, 5-6:30 p.m., at Beaconsfield Carriage House, corner of Kent and West streets in Charlottetown.

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