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September 15, 2006


Acadian educator, author, and social entrepreneur, Dr. Barbara Le Blanc, will speak about "The Enduring Spirit of Evangeline" on Wednesday evening September 27 at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. The presentation will take place at the UMFK Acadian Archives' Exhibit Gallery at 7 p.m. The presentation and is free and open to the public.

Dr. Le Blanc's presentation will focus on Maine poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?s fictional heroine, "Evangeline," the subject of one of his most popular poems.

"Even after 160 years, Evangeline's spirit continues to haunt us," said Dr. Le Blanc in a recent interview. In her presentation, Dr. Le Blanc will explore the following questions: Why does Evangeline have such a universal symbolic appeal and hold on so many people? Why does she touch the emotions of so many who become familiar with her story and thus with the story of the Acadians? Why has she been able to help create a sense of Acadian belonging and identity?

Dr. Barbara Le Blanc was born and raised in the Acadian region of Chéticamp, Nova Scotia. As a small child, she first learned Acadian French from her parents, but due to the lack of French-language instruction in Nova Scotia schools, all her formal education was in English, and she gradually lost her mother tongue. However, while studying theater at Dalhouse University, she discovered the fundamental importance of language. After learning first Italian and then Spanish, Dr. Le Blanc decided to relearn her native French.

Relearning her own language led Dr. Le Blanc to an impassioned exploration of the history and culture of the Acadians. At the same time, her interest in culture and language inspired her to study drama in Venice, Italy as well as to explore the culture of Mexico. A true life-long learner, Dr. Le Blanc has a Bachelor of Arts in Theater, a Master of Arts in history, a Bachelor of Education in French, and a doctorate in Ethnology. She has taught in Quebec, Mexico, Rome, Italy, Ireland, England, and presently is a professor in the Education Department at Université Sainte-Anne, Nova Scotia?s only French-language university.

In addition to her teaching career, Dr. Le Blanc was the first female director of Grand-Pré National Historic site. From 1998 to 2001 she was the president of the Société Promotion Grand-Pré, an organization which co-manages the historic site with Parks Canada. She also has served as the president of the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse and as the president of the Folklore Association of Canada.

UMFK Acadian Archives Director, Lisa Ornstein, has known Dr. Le Blanc since they were students together at Laval University in the 1980s. "Barbara is a truly inspired and inspiring educator, with a generous heart to go along with it," said Ornstein. "It is just like Barbara to volunteer her services as a speaker to the Acadian Archives. I hope that the community will come to her presentation on September 27. It's sure to be a wonderful evening!" For more information, call 834-7536.