New Director Rooted in Community
The Hunting family has been a prominent family in the Eastern Townships since the 1800’s, so it seems only fitting that one of their own, Rachel Hunting, is now at the helm of the Townshippers’ Association. Born and raised in Huntingville, the small
hamlet named after a family member, Ms. Hunting seems to have an innate love of this area, perhaps made even stronger after living out of the province for a short time. “I left the area to live in Vancouver for about six months. Then I came back to go back to school. Even when I was traveling I always enjoyed coming home to the Townships,” said Ms. Hunting in an interview at Townshippers’ Association’s main office in the Borough of Lennoxville.
Asked what made her take on the big job at Townshippers’, Rachel replied: “I enjoyed working in the community sector with youth and I’ve been interested in this organization for a long time. At the youth centre I had a similar role, only on a smaller scale. It was a matter of pursuing an interest in the community at a higher level.”
Retaining young people in this region is an important issue to English speaking Townshippers and also to the organization, and Ms. Hunting spoke about what made her return to the region: “There’s something about the Townships – an element in this region you don’t find other places. There’s the linguistic duality – we have a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’.” She continued: “I’m the only one in my circle of friends from high school who stayed in the region. People often say there is a lack of opportunity for young Anglos, but that’s never been my experience. Certainly you need a level of bilingualism, but there are lots of opportunities for Anglos with a functioning level of French.”
Being connected to the history of a region is also important to the new Executive Director of Townshippers’ Association. “I also have strong family ties here, being a Hunting from Huntingville. The older I get I realize how special that is. There are things my ancestors did that I can see, like the Huntingville Dam. These special ties to the area are important to me; I can’t take them with me.”
Still new to her post, it is a busy time for the Association’s director, especially with the Annual General Meeting coming up. This year’s AGM event, which used to feature the Outstanding Townshippers Awards, has taken on a new look. “This year the Annual General Meeting will be in Richmond and we will launch the Opart project, bringing English and French artists together to start connecting and promote that kind of collaboration,” said Ms. Hunting. Three young ‘Townships Leaders’ will also be recognized during the event.
This year’s Outstanding Townshippers will be recognized at a bigger venue: Townshippers’ Day in Farnham. “I think it was just a matter of switching things up but I believe it’s very appropriate to recognize our Outstanding Townshippers at Townshippers’ Day. We’re going right back to the historic Eastern Townships; it should be quite spectacular. The organizing committee is very enthusiastic,” Rachel commented. The Royal 22nd Regiment will also be taking part in this year’s annual event, providing two battalions: an armed battalion and a musical one.
Townshipper’s Association will be working with the Sherbrooke Canada Games organization. “We are working on a project to ensure the bilingualism of the Games. We will also be in line with bringing in volunteers from other areas for the Games. It will be a great opportunity to showcase the region and to get young people involved in something special in their area.”
Ms. Hunting seems very positive about what lies ahead. “I like being busy and I like challenges, you can’t stay sane working in a community organization without that, you have to be able to look at different situations and find solutions. I’m good at problem-solving: I don’t panic, I just roll up my sleeves and get to the hard work because my parents instilled that in us when we were young,” said the Executive Director, adding: “I’m really looking forward to see what direction I can bring the Association in.”
The new Executive Director of the Townshippers’ Association, Rachel Hunting, is enthusiastic about promoting the Eastern Townships community in her new role.