– Alexander Reford
President, Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence
With this issue we are welcoming our new executive director, Mélanie Leblanc. No stranger to the organization, Mélanie joined us as our new ED in January and has hit the ground running. Many projects are on the go, applications completed, meetings held and strategic planning sessions on the horizon. Mélanie is a relatively new resident of Métis-sur-Mer: she and her family have been living in the town since 2012, and have built a new home last year. With her background in community development, education and non-profit management, she brings a valuable new perspective to the organization.
Community organizations require collaboration and collaborators in order to progress; Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence (HLSL) is no exception. Over the years, HLSL has amassed an impressive list of collaborators. Whether it be the Ville de Métis-sur-Mer, the Agence de la santé et des servivces sociaux du Bas-Saint-Laurent or the Réseau Biblio du Bas-Saint-Laurent, it is with the help of precious collaborators such as these that HLSL can improve and diversify its service base.
I wish to take this opportunity to tell you about an exciting new collaboration on the horizon: The PatER (Patrimoine, Enseignement, Recherche or “Heritage, Teaching and Research”) project of the Université du Québec à Rimouski is working with HLSL for the benefit of teachers, students, researchers and heritage enthusiasts. PatER has developed a structured and collaborative online database of diverse regional heritage resources. The database contains information on topics ranging from heritage buildings, historically significant objects and archeological sites, to organizations dedicated to promoting regional heritage. The resource is designed to also work as a tool to link regional heritage with Quebec curriculum for elementary and high school students. This will help foster the sense of belonging in our region’s youth.
Through this collaboration with PatER, our organization is able to share and promote the extensive collection of documents, photographs, clippings and research material it has assembled, through both donation and acquisition, since its foundation. Carefully organized and enthusiastically shared by our in house curator, Pamela Andersson, the collection is unique. It specifically covers the history of the Anglophone community of the region but also more broadly illustrates life in the area.
Linking to the university in Rimouski is just one of several ways in which HLSL is seeking to reach out to stakeholders throughout the region. With almost 50,000 residents, not only is Rimouski the regional administrative center, it is also a hub for science and learning, a large number of residents being associated with the university, hospital, CÉGEP and research institutions. Rimouski also has the largest number of English-speaking residents in the region. Over the next few years, building bridges to Rimouski and its population will allow HLSL to better serve our English speaking community.
In the past, we have successfully reached English-speaking residents of surrounding communities by sharing the history and heritage of our English speaking population through various projects. The theme of heritage has driven the organization since its foundation, and this year, we will be launching our Walk My Heritage tour. Assembled by the HLSL team (Pamela Andersson, Jennie Hurwood) and journalist Susan Woodfine, the project builds on the work of heritage pioneers, like Alan Smith of Métis-sur-Mer. Walk My Heritage is a new audio-guided walking tour that takes visitors from site to site, from story to story. It will offer historical insight on the growth and development of the community, and will bring to light the personal stories that make up its unique fabric. Watch for upcoming details of the official Walk My Heritage tour launch, which is planned for June.