Consul General Parker traveled to Sherbrooke to take part in the inauguration of a new Louisiana Studies Center. The first of its kind outside of the U.S., the Center aims to bring together young people at different stages in their education to encourage the study of this unique and vibrant region of the United States. The Center was co-founded by two professors – Jean-Pierre Le Glaunec, from the Université de Sherbrooke, and Guillaume Lallier, from the Cégep de Sherbrooke – inspired by a mutually shared fascination for Louisiana’s history.
The main event was an interactive history lesson on the background and traditions of a particular group from Louisiana: the Mardi Gras Indians. Mr. Parker was pleased to introduce two U.S. cultural ambassadors, Cherice Harrison-Nelson and her son Brian Nelson, the “Big Queen” and “Big Chief” of a particular group of Mardi Gras Indians called the Guardians of the Flame Maroon Society. Cherice and Brian made their first ever visit to Quebec from New Orleans to animate the afternoon’s activities at the Université de Sherbrooke. Witnessing firsthand a performance of traditional Mardi Gras Indian songs was enlightening for Le Glaunec and Lallier’s students, and all in attendance. Cherice spoke about the practice of designing her characteristically intricate and striking “suits” composed of feathers and elaborate beaded patches, each of which represents a story from her heritage, and Brian presented a scene from his recently completed documentary entitled Keeper of the Flame.
The event also marked the celebration of the beginning of Black History Month in both Canada and the U.S., and Consul General Parker shared a quote from President Obama’s Black History month proclamation to kick off the inauguration reception: “Every American can draw strength from the story of hard-won progress, which not only defines the African-American experience, but also lies at the heart of our Nation as a whole. This story affirms that freedom is a gift from God, but it must be secured by His people here on earth. It inspires a new generation of leaders, and it teaches us all that when we come together in common purpose, we can right the wrongs of history and make our world anew.”
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