“Stay here for a moment and we'll tell you a little about the history of our people and the students in Rustico, let us sing as children of Acadia. We are proud of who we are, proud to speak French here,” were the words sung, by Nadine Pineau of Rustico, as Lennie Gallant was awarded the Acadian Order of Merit on Saturday.
The Société Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin held its 2012 annual general meeting on Saturday afternoon. About 100 people gathered in the gymnasium at the Acadian community centre in South Rustico for lunch, music, an award ceremony, and their annual general meeting.
Lennie Gallant, Island folk-rock musician was awarded the Acadian Order of Merit 2012 in order to recognize his work to the future development of Prince Edward Island's Acadian community.
The medal is awarded annually to an Acadian and Francophone man or woman, from the region where the annual meeting is being held, who has made or is making a special contribution to the vitality of Island Acadians and Francophone life.
Michelle Pineau, mother of Nadine and co-president of the Acadian Region of Rustico, presented Gallant with the award and medal.
Gallant said the award was a real honour to have the Acadian community tell him they feel as though he had contributed something.
“When I was a kid growing up I didn't speak any French, and no one did, except my grandparents. But, the more I got to know the Acadians in other communities I realized how much we had in common. We had the same culture, the same festivals, food, and music,” he said outside of the community centre on the windy Saturday afternoon.
“At that time I decided I wanted to try to get my language back. I was close to 20 years old by the time I got my French back.”
“There is also the Lennie Gallant from Rustico. The man who has never forgotten where he came from,” Pineau said in front of local citizens and volunteers.
“The Lennie who proudly reclaimed his Acadian and Francophone roots and shared them, as he still shares them, with the whole world.”
Pineau said in awarding the Acadian Order of Merit 2012 to Gallant, they are celebrating who they are and where they are going.
Gallant will be attending a number of event this summer including the Festival of Small Halls taking place this Saturday and Sunday. He will be performing at the Indian River Festival in mid-July and at Rendévous Rustico on his traditional date of the last Sunday in July.