Newcomers to P.E.I. learn about Acadian heritage through Rustico 300 challenge

·2 min read

Some arrived 300 years ago, others came to the Island more recently — but on Friday morning in Rustico, both were connected by one thing: a trail.

That trail is part of the Rustico 300 Challenge which celebrates the 300th anniversary of the arrival of the first French settlers on Prince Edward Island.

Everything that you do has a purpose in life. So I really enjoyed the walk today. — Wengi Li

And while the goal is to walk 300 laps around it, on Friday another goal that was top of mind was teaching a group of newcomers to P.E.I. about Acadian heritage.

"This is sort of a way for ... today's newcomers, to come and honour the newcomers of the past," said Peggy Miles, the community navigator for central P.E.I.

"It's really a way for new Islanders to feel a sense of belonging and to understand all about Prince Edward Island."

Focus on Acadian heritage

The group of newcomers meets regularly for time outside and to explore rural parts of the Island.

"It's important that we share with them the traditional cultures," said Miles.

"So today there's a big focus on introducing newcomers to the Acadian culture."

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC News
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC News

The event was a partnership between the Association for Newcomers to Canada, the Conseil Acadien de Rustico, Coopérative d'intégration francophone de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard (CIF), and the Central Region Sport and Recreation Council.

"We're here to provide awareness. We're here to engage the community," said Andréa Deveau, the director of Conseil Acadien de Rustico.

"When people are interested in participating in that, it's just a wonderful feeling altogether."

'I learned a lot'

During the walk, the newcomers had the chance to ask questions about Acadian heritage to locals.

Deveau said she received all kinds of queries ranging from Rustico's population to "how many people decorate their homes or their properties using the Acadian colours.

"There were some young kids here today that were very curious about the Acadian culture, which was really fascinating," she said.

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC News
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC News

One of those was Andy Gu.

"I asked some questions," said Gu. "Like how many Acadians are living on P.E.I.?"

Also interested was Wengi Li who is in Grade 8.

"I learned a lot of new stuff," said Li. "Everything that you do has a purpose in life. So I really enjoyed the walk today."

As for Miles, the community navigator, she said events like this are all about bringing everyone together.

"It's really all about helping to create that sense of belonging and helping communities on Prince Edward Island grow," she said.

"Bringing long-time residents together with new residents for that wonderful cultural exchange that happens."

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