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Museum L-A Represents Lewiston-Auburn at New Brunswick Conference

Camden Martin, guest services coordinator for Museum L-A, was one of 17 chosen out of 265 candidates to participate in a Youth Mobilization conference in Moncton, New Brunswick in August. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie met briefly with the youth group. Included in the group were Magalie Civil, Sandrine Croteau, Jean Yannick Egnath, Erika Langlais, Camden Martin (kneeling), Sarah Mills, Emilie Thibeault-Maloney, Kenza Zaoui, Ngoné Diagne, Corinne Labelle, Angela Lorenzo, William McGrew, Jean Elie Paul, Laura Pelletier, Nicolas Servel, Carlos Adrián Zúñiga González, and Emmanuel Alberto Videla.

Members from the Centre de la Fancophonie des Americques were intrigued by what Museu, L-A accomplished in a three-month period which included enabling Franco organizations, restaurants, hotels, both citis of Lewiston and Auburn, and the LA Metro Chamber of Commerce, to complete a test-run bus tour of local Franco heritage sites. Quebec delegates who participate in the bus tour were impressed, so they requested Rachel Desgrosseilliers , founding executive director of Museum L-A, attend as a speaker to represent Lewiston-Auburn at the 2019 Conference of Francophonie and Francophile Cities Network held recently in Moncton, New Brunswick. Conference attendees came from all regions of Canada, Louisiana and the New England states.

            The Francophone and Francophile Cities Network was founded in 2015 by the cities of Quebec, Moncton and Lafayette and has been managed by the Centre de la Fancophonies des Ameriques since July 2018 with 150 member cities to provide a way for members to work together building tourism and economic and cultural links for the benefit of their cities and communities.

            The cities of Lewiston and Auburn became members of the network through the Gendron Franco Center with other Francophone organizations who became part of the network. In March 2019, Museum L-A worked with a Quebec intern to organize Franco Trail L-A —a walking tour and bus tour, a website and an app that would become a product to be offered as part of a larger New England Franco route being developed that included Woonsocket R.I., Manchester N.H., Biddeford and Lewiston-Auburn, Maine.

            The panel discussion in which Museum L-A participated, along with Anne Conway of Rhode Island, Isabelle de Bruyn of Ontario and Gwen Leblanc of Nova Scotia, was titled, “On the Way: Creating Tourism Routes.” Projects of developing tourism routes as well as discussion of issues and challenges related to their implementation and success were presented. Museum L-A was asked to specifically address the issues of community engagement, creating dialogue between organizations and municipalities.

            Camden Martin, guest services coordinator for Museum L-A, was chosen out of 265 candidates to participate in a Youth Mobilization section of the conference. Mobilisation Jeunesse 2019, or Youth Mobilization 2019, was an intensive training of four days that comprised both theoretical and hands-on workshops. This training was put together for participants living in the Americas, from ages 19 – 35, to wave durable links with other Francophones in the Americas and to contribute to the promotion of the Francophonie.

            Youth participants were chosen based on their proficiency with the French language as well as demonstrating how they would be able to benefit from this training on a professional and personal level. Out of the 265 candidates, 17 were chosen ranging from the Yukon to Buenos Aires. Martin participated in Profile Tourism, where he learned how to evaluate and identify the touristic potential connected with possible Francophones coming from Canada, Europe or even from other states as he learned how to create and improve touristic offerings based on that potential.

            Other workshops were animated by a company that specializes in augmented reality as they learned how the latter can be used as a veritable touristic asset when promoting local heritage and skillset to the Franco-Trail L-A as well as the new tourism efforts being developed by Museum L-A and that which is rising in our local communities. The young professional participants were able to meet briefly with the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. A series of seminars attended by all participants dealt with: Creating dynamic municipalities that promote youth development and retention; Bilingualism as Driver of Economic Development; Creating Franco-Friendly Businesses and Services; Celebrating the Francophonie at the Heart of a Municipality; and Developing Cultural-Based Tourism among others.

            Bilingual cultural tourism was the order of the day. Tourism is an economic development tool that has been recognized by many provinces of Canada and the Maritimes as most municipalities are looking toward retaining and bringing back their youth. They find this is one way to do it. New Brunswick declared official bilingualism in 1969 and remains, to this day, the only officially bilingual province in Canada.

            Networking with officials of many other municipalities and organizations was of great benefit in sharing of ideas and concepts as great contacts were made that will be useful for future work in tourism for the area. Quebec showed great interest in doing more exchanges in both tourism and the presenting of our mutual heritage.

            Tourism to Museum L-A is of great importance as it has already received visitors from 44 states and 13 countries, all of who leave in awe after learning about the culture of our history including several Canadian provinces and French-speaking European countries. “This allows our museum to let people know where they can stay, eat, play or learn which becomes an economic boost to the area,” said Martin.

            Museum L-A is located in the Bates Mill Complex at 35 Canal Street in Lewiston. Use the parking lot entrance at 36 Chestnut Street. Its hours of operations are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Special tour requests and large group tours outside of these hours are available by appointment. For more information, please contact or call 207-333-3881.

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