The Great Walk for linguistic equality, taking place in Moncton on Saturday October 16, is taking shape and gathering interest from individuals and organizations everywhere.
The Great Walk course has slightly changed. The walk will start at 1 p.m. at the corner of Highfield and Main Street, and will end in front of Moncton City Hall.
This Great Walk aims to unite all the positive energy from individuals and groups from the Maritime Provinces who wish to demonstrate that Anglophone and Francophone populations like to live together and develop in equal partnership. Organizers hope to gather people who believe in bilingualism and who recognize its importance and value in the growth and well-being of their cities, their provinces and the country.
All are invited to participate and bring along noise-making objects, music instruments, pro-bilingual signs, etc. This Great Walk will look like a tintamarre. Hundreds of people are already signed-up on the Great Walk’s Facebook event page!
Many individuals and organizations have sent in support letters to the Great Walk’s organizers. Encouragement is coming in from everywhere. Among its supporters are the Lounsbury Group, Mount Allison University, Frye Festival, Société nationale de l’Acadie, Fédération des jeunes francophones du N.-B., Capitol Theatre, Savoie Group, Société de l’Acadie du N.-B. (SANB), the Émilie-LeBlanc sector of the SANB, ArtsLink NB, Fédération des étudiants et étudiantes de l’Université de Moncton, l’Université de Moncton and Assumption Life.
Dawn Arnold, Chair of the Frye Festival, the bilingual literary festival held in Moncton every April, supports linguistic equality at every level and feels privileged to live in a bilingual province. “What an amazing opportunity we have in New Brunswick, to have the many benefits of both official languages and both cultures. This is something that I think we should all be extremely proud of. It is a central part of our heritage and it makes us strong. Frye Festival authors from around the world are continuously amazed to hear the bilingual proficiency of our community,” says Arnold. She adds, “As citizens, I don’t think we are always aware of just how unique our community is in the world, but when I hear comments like ‘Moncton is post-lingual’, meaning that we have transcended the language divide, I couldn’t be happier.”
Jean-Claude Savoie, president of the Groupe Savoie, is very pleased with this initiative. He writes: “There has been tremendous progress since the confrontation between a group of students, lead by Claude Savoie, and Mayor Jones, in 1968. We still have a way to go and we must remain proactive. A gathering of both linguistic communities, like the October 16 Great Walk, can only be a step in the right direction.”
Mount Allison University president, Robert Campbell, supports the event. He believes that linguistic equality in the region is a great strength and that both communities must celebrate it and help it grow. “Coming from Montreal, my family and I value bilingualism, and enjoy that congenial, civilized bilingual atmosphere and lifestyle of Moncton and south-eastern New Brunswick. This linguistic equality is a strength and a comparative advantage for our community that should be celebrated and developed, and Mount Allison University looks for every opportunity to do so.”
Larry Nelson, successful businessman known and respected throughout the Maritimes, isn’t afraid to stand tall and share his belief that both linguistic communities must be treated equally. “I’m a great supporter of both Anglophone and Francophone communities’ culture and rights. We are in a far better place (in New Brunswick and in the Maritimes) because of the both of them. This initiative is an important step in the right direction,” says Nelson.
And finally, ArtsLink NB President Kathryn Hamer says that “in New Brunswick, bilingualism is an excellent social, cultural and economic advantage. In order to insure a thriving future, we must promote the growth of all our cultural communities because we get our strength from our diversity.”
The organizers wish to welcome as many people as possible to the Great Walk for linguistic equality. Invite the entire family from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. For more information on the event, please call 506.227.8470.