Local Francophones having stories told through music

Community Featured

TRURO – A project by the local Francophone community centre is telling the stories of seniors throughout the province.

“It’s a very rewarding project, and we’re very pleased with how it’s going,” said Yvette Saulnier, director of the Centre communautaire francophone de Truro. “It’s such a fabulous project that we wanted to be able to keep it going.”

The centre has hired teacher and singer-songwriter Weldon Boudreau, who meets with French seniors in Truro and communities around the province. During their meetings, the seniors tell Boudreau stories of “the good ole days”, says Saulnier.

Boudreau’s wife takes notes of all the discussions, which Boudreau then uses to create songs about the people.

“We’re trying as much as possible to get some of our past musicians involved in the project. There are a lot of Francophone people featured in this project,” Saulnier said. Her daughter, Céline Thimot, is one of the singers.

At the end of the summer, Boudreau met with Elaine and Elzee Saulnier, and Lucy and Bill Babineau. He’s spent some time in Chezzetcook meeting with about a half-dozen seniors, plus a few women in Pomquet.

“They wanted their songs to be about the women there,” Saulnier said about the latter community’s visit.

Boudreau has also written a song after meeting with Farida Gabbani, the executive director of the Marigold Cultural Centre.

“Farida has had a super fascinating life,” said Saulnier.

Since the songs have been written, the recording process has started. “Oh Train,” written about Elaine and Elzee Saulnier, was the first recorded.

“We have another year to finish the project. We hope to also have a visual version on our centre’s YouTube channel. It will be videos of the songs set to pictures. We are looking at having CDs made, because the seniors are going to want to have something in hand, and we’re hoping to get vinyl for pre-orders so they have them as a souvenir,” the centre’s director said.

If all goes well with the coronavirus pandemic and its restrictions, Saulnier says she’d like to have a live performance this coming summer.

Saulnier adds that the musical project started about 1.5 years ago with funding through New Horizons, a Heritage Canada program. The project is continuing now with $10,000 through the provincial Age Friendly Community Grants program. The centre is also working on another spin-off to this project, this one with more funding from the New Horizons program.

“It would be us creating little theatre clips, or skits, with each song, sort of like a comedy show,” said Saulnier, noting that project will be underway “in the not so distant future.”

To keep up-to-date on the Centre communautaire francophone de Truro and their project, visit the centre’s page on Facebook. The project’s videos will be found on the centre’s YouTube channel in the future.

Weldon Boudreau, standing, sings for a number of Francophones in Truro this past summer while meeting with them as part of a musical program through the Centre communautaire francophone de Truro. (Submitted photo)