It’s not over yet

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

The pun­dits are once again pre­dict­ing that the sep­a­ratists are dead, buried or bet­ter still in­cin­er­ated af­ter Mon­day’s sur­pris­ing Lib­eral vic­tory. Huge in num­bers, seats and vote.

Im­pos­si­ble to deny the first, the lat­ter must be looked upon a bit more care­fully. Ninety per­cent plus of the vote in a rid­ing brings one M.N.A., so does thirty nine per­cent as in Saint-François where the com­bined vote of the ‘In­de­pen­dan­tist’ Québec Sol­idaire can­di­date and in­cum­bent ‘Sovereignist’ Ré­jean Hébert beats the win­ning Lib­eral Guy Hardy by a tad un­der one thou­sand votes. The same is true in Sher­brooke and in an­other ten or so rid­ings.

We un­der­stand a lit­tle bit more since yes­ter­day morn­ing why Mrs. Marois was so ea­ger to go into an elec­tion: the first wit­ness called to the Char­bon­neau Com­mis­sion ex­plained that when the PQ was in power, it was get­ting the largest slice of the po­lit­i­cal fi­nanc­ing money (al­beit in smaller sums than the Lib­er­als) and that when the ADQ, as the CAQ was then called, was in op­po­si­tion and maybe on the verge of form­ing a mi­nor­ity govern­ment, it also started re­ceiv­ing its ‘fair share’ of the en­gi­neer­ing firms seed money. While we have no rea­son to be­lieve that the govern­ment in power is ad­vised of what the en­quiry com­mis­sion is up to next, we are not ex­actly naïve ei­ther.

This is where the Péladeau ef­fect re­ally comes in. Mrs. Marois had not even for­mally re­signed when he, along with Bernard Drainville and Jean-François Lisée, went on the of­fen­sive to take their spot on the suc­ces­sor list. If there was one thing that the fed­er­al­ist pun­dits didn’t ex­pect, that was it.

The fact is that Mrs. Marois was a lousy pub­lic speaker, she stam­mered a lot, un­able to use rhetoric to any ex­tent. Péladeau, Drainville (a for­mer Ra­dio-Canada jour­nal­ist) and Lisée have been in the com­mu­ni­ca­tion busi­ness all their lives.

For us in the Town­ships it will mean, once again, that we will pay for Mon­treal sins where English rights are al­ways about prin­ci­ples, not of­ten about ser­vices. They have them, we don’t. And we need them badly.

Let’s face it, Pierre Reid is get­ting a li­mou­sine once again, the higher ed­u­ca­tion mess is not solved, it’s not the PQ’s fault, by the way, and he will dis­agree, but a sys­tem­atic laisser-faire at­ti­tude dat­ing from the 60’s. It seems that since uni­ver­si­ties ex­isted be­fore the Par­ent com­mis­sion, that Que­bec didn’t have to do much, pre­fer­ring to let things go on their own. The cre­ation of the Univer­sité du Québec, a cut and paste of the Californian model, be­ing the only progress made.

Iron­i­cally, a lot of this is due to Pierre Eliot Trudeau, the only in­tel­lec­tual to see and fight for…? The ex­pul­sion of the federal govern­ment for any fund­ing in the ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing field. He should have been em­braced by his fel­low in­tel­lec­tu­als, but as the say­ing goes: Money talks and the feds were putting money in while the Union Na­tionale wasn’t. Mr. Reid, hav­ing worked both at the UQ and Univer­sité de Sher­brooke, would be well placed to be given a four year man­date to bring con­crete so­lu­tions to the ta­ble. If he wants to, we may lend him a copy of Trudeau’s work; it would be a nice start for a real re­form.

And this is a lo­cal sub­ject: Sher­brooke’s two uni­ver­si­ties are our best as­sets for job cre­ation.

The Stanstead Cer­cle de Fer­mieres, the big­gest provin­cial branch with forty-three mem­bers, is a very ac­tive group that meets in a large, bright space above the Que­bec Registry Of­fice. They will hold their ex­hi­bi­tion this Satur­day, April 12th, at the Sacré Coeur Church, in Stanstead.

Vis­it­ing the ‘head­quar­ters’ of the Stanstead group, I met with the group’s pres­i­dent, Mar­celle Goudreau, and her sis­ter, long­time mem­ber Suzanne Boucher.

“The Cer­cle de Fer­mieres was started for two main rea­sons: to pro­mote women’s causes, like voting, and to teach and pro­mote all the tex­tile arts that are dy­ing,” ex­plained Mrs. Goudreau. “We’re like the French equiv­a­lent of the Women’s In­sti­tute. Both groups be­long to the As­so­ci­a­tion of Coun­try Women of the World, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that was cre­ated in On­tario and then moved to Europe. And we com­pete against the Women’s In­sti­tute in the Ayer’s Cliff Fair!” said Mrs. Boucher.

The meet­ing place of the group is large out of ne­ces­sity: it houses over a dozen looms of dif­fer­ent sizes. The sis­ters were each work­ing on a loom, Mar­celle mak­ing those sought af­ter tea tow­els that last for­ever and ab­sorb wa­ter like the dick­ens, while Suzanne was weav­ing a pure white table­cloth with an el­e­gant, raised de­sign. “I’m us­ing acrylic so it won’t stain and it won’t shrink. Here, we com­bine the old with the new.”

Ge­or­gette D’Arcy, an­other mem­ber and also the mother of mo­saic artist, Gaetan D’Arcy, was busy at a loom, throw­ing the ‘shut­tle’ back and forth, pump­ing the ped­als with her feet. “I find it re­lax­ing to weave, ex­cept if you make a mis­take,” she com­mented. Weav­ing, which is taught along with many other tex­tile handi-

crafts like knit­ting, em­broi­dery, cro­chet etc., in Cer­cles across the prov­ince, is taken very se­ri­ously by these women. “If you make a mis­take, it’s okay – you just take it apart and start over,” said the pres­i­dent.

Francine DuBois, who joined the group eight years ago, was weav­ing a par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult piece to sub­mit to the an­nual Re­gional Congress, an ex­hi­bi­tion and com­pe­ti­tion of hand­i­crafts from Cer­cle branches across Que­bec. “I like to weave, sew and knit,” she said as she worked on a ‘tete-a-tete’, a long, thin wo­ven piece to drape over a small ta­ble, used to put plates on.

Each of the looms, in­clud­ing a mon­strous one that takes two people to op­er­ate and is used to weave large bed­spreads called ‘cat­a­lognes’, sits on top of a thick piece of car­pet­ing. “If we didn’t have car­pets un­der­neath the looms, it would sound like thun­der down­stairs in the Registry Of­fice,” said Mrs. Boucher.

“This weav­ing room is open ev­ery day of the week and of­ten on week­ends. We have mem­bers from Sher­brooke who all come out on a Satur­day and do knit­ting, felt­ing and weav­ing. Women can live any­where and still be a mem­ber of our group,” men­tioned Mrs. Goudreau. “And the fun part is there’s no age limit. Our old­est mem­ber is Laure-He­lene Gaulin, in her late eight­ies, who doesn’t miss a meet­ing. She’ll have some pieces in the ex­hibit com­ing up this Satur­day; sim­ple, tra­di­tional but per­fect pieces. Our old mem­bers can pass all their knowl­edge to the young mem­bers,” said Mrs. Boucher. “Our mem­bers can learn how to weave and then use the equip­ment for free; they just need to buy their own thread,” added Mrs. Goudreau.

Mem­bers of the Stanstead Cer­cle de Fer­mieres have re­cently be­gun awak­en­ing a whole new gen­er­a­tion to the plea­sures of cre­at­ing hand­i­crafts. A few mem­bers started a knit­ting club at the lo­cal el­e­men­tary school, Jardin-des-Fron­tieres. “They put up a poster and the first time we got four kids: three boys and a girl,” said Mrs. Boucher. Two weeks later, eleven chil­dren were ready to join the knit­ting club, and at the next meet­ing there were fif­teen! “It’s all free and we do it dur­ing the lunch break ev­ery two weeks. It’s so pop­u­lar that we ran out of sup­plies,” said Mar­celle. “When the kids knit at home, if they need help, they usu­ally go see their grandma. We re­al­ized that the skill has skipped a gen­er­a­tion,” said Suzanne.

New mem­bers are wel­come to join this group that not only teaches and pro­motes many tex­tile skills, but also raises money for or­ga­ni­za­tions like the OLO Foun­da­tion for preg­nant moth­ers. Al­though a French or­ga­ni­za­tion, many mem­bers are bilin­gual and a few mem­bers are English.

The Stanstead Cer­cle de Fer­mieres ex­hi­bi­tion will take place this Satur­day, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, in the base­ment of the Sacré Coeur Church, on Duf­ferin Street. On dis­play will be the finest ex­am­ples of weav­ing, knit­ting, cro­chet, sewing and more, some for sale and some avail­able to or­der. There will also be demon­stra­tions, sales ta­bles, home-made pas­tries, flo­rals and door prizes. Ev­ery­one is wel­come and ad­mis­sion is free.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Stanstead Cer­cle de Fer­mieres or if you would like to be­come a mem­ber, call Mar­celle Goudreau at 819 876-5658.

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Mem­bers of the Stanstead Cer­cle de Fer­mieres, (l. to r.) Francine DuBois, Suzanne Boucher, Mar­celle Goudreau and Ge­or­gette D’Arcy, pose with their big­gest loom which is used to weave ‘cat­a­lognes’, large bed­spreads. Re­cy­cled ma­te­rial is of­ten cut and used to weave into blan­kets or rugs.

Pho­tos cour­tesy

Dar­ren Boucher and Jayden Boucher work hard on their knit­ting dur­ing their lunch break at Jardin-des-Fron­tieres school.

Tyler Car­ruthers, who is learn­ing how to knit at his school, was proud to fin­ish his wash­cloth first.

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