Innu poetry exhibit pops up at Brome Lake French literary festival

By Michael Boriero
Innu poetry exhibit pops up at Brome Lake French literary festival
Courtesy Town of Brome Lake

Brome Lake’s first annual Festival littéraire Lac-Brome featured an eye-catching exhibit in Coldbrook Park between May 19 and 22, as organizers set up three large pink rectangles that showcased several poems written by Innu children.

The exhibit is inspired by Nin Auass, Moi l’enfant, a book penned by Joséphine Bacon and Laure Morali, and illustrated by Lydia Mestokosho-Paradis. According to Brome Lake Councillor Louise Morin, Bacon and Morali collected poetry from over 1,000 Innu children.

The Festival international de la littérature (FIL), which helped the town set up its French literary festival, offered to send over the exhibit. Morin told The Record that it was immediately snapped up by the town as an important cultural piece to put on display for residents.

Although she has no way of knowing how well the exhibit did in attracting public attention, Morin noted it’s a great way to build bridges between communities. It’s also a useful tool to educate the general population about Innu culture and language, she explained.

Laura Carpenter McConnell, the owner of Le Loom, a spiritual shop providing insight into rituals and practices common to Indigenous communities in Knowlton, said she was immediately drawn to the exhibit because the pink made it stick out like a sore thumb.

She expects many people were drawn to the pink rectangles out of sheer curiosity. Carpenter McConnell, who grew up in Maniwaki, a small town north of Gatineau, has been fighting for fundamental human rights within Indigenous communities for several decades now.

Even if the exhibit was only able to bring in a few people, it’s a great way to spark a larger conversation around preserving and protecting vulnerable Indigenous language and culture. It doesn’t help that Quebec has made it clear where it stands on the language issue, she noted.

“It’s so important, especially right now with [Bill 96] it’s a language, in my eyes, that is going to disappear slowly and slowly because of the government,” said Laura Carpenter McConnell, adding she is worried about the legislation’s affect on her daughter’s future in the province.

Morin hopes the town will keep the festival alive for years to come, sharing that they haven’t had a French-specific literature event in quite some time. The town is steeped in tradition, and culture, she told BCN, adding this event will serve as a great compliment to the town.

“I think it’s a very good start and it’s better than what we expected. For me, personally, I put a lot of work and hope in this, and it’s not me as a councillor, it’s me as a person who loves literature and it’s a thing I wanted to do for a long time,” Morin said in a phone interview.

Share this article