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Maple Sugar Festival will fill Nanaimo with French-Canadian culture

Event planned for Feb. 23-25 at Beban Park
Pauline Maerten, communications manager with L’Association des francophones du Nanaimo, and her peers are getting ready to put on the Maple Sugar Festival du Sucre D’Érable starting on Friday, Feb. 23. (Bailey Seymour/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo residents can find sweets, sounds and sugar at the upcoming Maple Sugar Festival du Sucre D’Érable, a weekend of celebrating French-Canadian culture.

From Feb. 23 to 25, L’Association des francophones de Nanaimo will be hosting the festival at the Beban Park Social Centre, and it will include francophone musicians, Quebec cuisine, and a French-Canadian-inspired market.

“We try to spread the francophone culture around Nanaimo,” said Pauline Maerten, communications manager of the association. “It’s a good place to meet new people, when we are speaking French, it’s a good place to see a lot of what makes francophonie such a big and very diverse [culture].”

READ MORE: Party en français: You’ll be sweet on the Maple Sugar Festival

She said the festival is not only beneficial to those who already speak French, but it’s also a good opportunity for those learning French or kids in French-immersion school programs to practise and immerse themselves in francophone culture.

Nanaimo’s francophone community keeps getting “bigger and bigger every year,” she said.

“We are trying to spread the word, and the festival is a good way to do that. So we have a lot of native French people that come together every month to celebrate, to do workshops or stuff like that. But we also have French classes, so we have a lot of English-speaking people trying to use their French keep their French.”

The opening evening, Friday, Feb. 23, will go from 5-9:30 p.m. and will include performances from four bands and a traditional Quebec meal. Saturday, Feb. 24, will include a market, a percussion workshop and participative drums performance with Malicounda Dance and a multitude of other performers from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The final day, Sunday, Feb. 25, will have the market and multiple performance from musicians and bands, including Nanaimo group Les Nuances, and activities will happen from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Bailey Seymour

About the Author: Bailey Seymour

After graduating from SAIT and stint with the Calgary Herald, I ended up at the Nanaimo News Bulletin/Ladysmith Chronicle in March 2023
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