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Today in the theatre of the Confederation Centre was the Annual Tom Symons Lecture. The topic is always the same, the Status of Canadian Confederation. What is different each year is the distinguished lecturer. In 2014 it was HRH The Prince of Wales and in years past we had other lecturer of note, each bringing their take on Canada. Today we had the great novelist Antonine Maillet, who wrote amongst other things, La Sagouine and Pelagie La Charette, both are about the Acadian people in the Maritime region of Canada who have been living in this region since 1604. Most came from the Loire Valley of France. Unlike other French-Canadians who came from Brittany, Normandy and other regions of France most arriving in New France in 1608. Two different peoples in terms of history in Canada. The Acadians were deported in 1755 by the British Army in what can only be described as ethnic cleansing in modern terms, most came back to Acadia in 1780 under very difficult circumstances.

Antonine Maillet has won many awards for her work including the famous Prix Goncourt which is the most prestigious literary prize in the French speaking world.

Attending this event which takes place at noon time and last 3 hours were the Lieutenant Governor of PEI, the Premier of PEI, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of PEI and various other officials. The theatre was full and the talk was wonderful, she has such a way with words.

At the beginning of the proceedings, we had the National Anthem O Canada and then the Anthem of PEI and the Anthem of Acadia.

I had never heard of the Anthem of PEI which by Law is the Official anthem of the Province and everyone around me knew the words. It does sound like a religious hymn one would sing in Church on Sunday.

The Island Hymn
The patriotic song of Prince Edward Island was written by Lucy Maud Montgomery in the spring of 1908. It was performed for the first time in public on May 22 of that year. It was sung to Lawrence W.Watson’s music, which had been composed especially for her lyric.
The manuscript music, dated Charlottetown, 27 Oct 1908, and correspondence relating to it are displayed at Green Gables House, Cavendish, PEI. An edition for mixed-voice choir was printed by Leslie Music Supply for the Prince Edward Island 1973 Centennial Committee.
The Island Hymn was adopted as the provincial anthem of Prince Edward Island by the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island on May 7, 2010. The Provincial Anthem Act includes a French version of the Island Hymn called L’hymne de l’Île. This French version was adapted by Raymond J. Arsenault of Abram-Village, who was in the audience today.

The Island Hymn by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Fair Island of the sea,
We raise our song to thee,
The bright and blest;
Loyally now we stand
As brothers, hand in hand,
And sing God save the land
We love the best.
Upon our princely Isle
May kindest fortune smile
In coming years;
Peace and prosperity
In all her borders be,
From every evil free,
And weakling fears.
Prince Edward Isle, to thee
Our hearts shall faithful be
Where’er we dwell;
Forever may we stand
As brothers, hand in hand,
And sing God save the land
We love so well.

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