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Vishtèn Connexions adds Acadian sizzle to Festival du Bois in Coquitlam

Acadian Vishtèn Connexions
Vishtèn Connexions members Pascal Miousse and Emmanuelle LeBlanc carried on after the loss of the band's third member, Pastelle LeBlanc, in 2022.

One of Prince Edward Island’s most loved roots bands will perform for free this weekend at Maillardville’s annual music and culture festival. The Acadian duo Vishtèn Connexions is one of the headliners at the 35th-anniversary edition of Festival du Bois, which celebrates francophone and Métis culture. This year’s event is free and runs from Friday (March 8) to Sunday (March 10) in Mackin Park in Coquitlam.

There’s a tragic back story behind Vishtèn Connexions. One member of the group, Pastelle LeBlanc, developed breast cancer and died at 42 in April 2022. The two surviving members are Pastelle’s partner, Pascal Miousse, and her twin sister, Emmanuelle LeBlanc.

“Elle Tempête” was recorded when Pastelle was still alive.

Last year, Pascal and Emmanuelle commemorated Pastelle’s memory by releasing a bilingual single, “More Love”. They did this in partnership another PEI band, the East Pointers, which had also lost a member.

Pastelle, Emmanuelle, and Pascal co-wrote “More Love”, a bouncy, upbeat, and hypnotic number with evocative vocal harmonies. Musicians from the two bands issued the song under the name 6 Hearts.

Last year, CBC journalist Carolyn Ryan reported that “More Love” was discovered on Pastelle’s phone after she had died.

CBC also noted that there may be 200 other pieces that Pastelle also saved. The surviving band members have since obtained a Canada Council grant to cover the cost of archiving these compositions.

Earlier this year, Vishtèn Connections released “Sauvage”” with singer-songwriter Catherine MacLellan. The band says that this is the third bilingual single from their upcoming album, Expansions. This disc will include a different artist on each track.

“Sauvage” with Catherine MacLellan.

Reviving Acadian culture

Festival du Bois is shining a spotlight on Acadian music in recognition of the 2024 Acadian Congress. This once-in-every-five-years event will take place in Southwest Nova Scotia from August 10 to 18.

There’s a sad history as well as an inspiring cultural revival taking place. The Acadians descend from French settlers who established a colony in the early 17th century on the Atlantic coast of North America. One of five regions of New France, Acadia extended from the Maritime provinces to parts of Quebec and Maine.

The Acadians developed their own distinct culture. Like French settlers in other parts of North American, some married Indigenous Peoples. However, during the Seven Years’ War between Britain and France, British military officers accused the Acadians of being French sympathizers. As a result, many were deported in an act of ethnic cleansing.

Known as Le Grand Dérangement, these forced removals occurred between 1755 and 1764. Some were sent to the Caribbean, France, and England, while many others died before reaching their destinations. Meanwhile, Spain lured some Acadians to what’s now Louisiana, where they established Cajun culture.

The British colonists, on the other hand, prohibited the Acadians from returning to what became Nova Scotia, preferring instead to lure Loyalists fleeing American colonies.

However, some Acadians still made their way back to New Brunswick. Nowadays, about 30 percent of New Brunswick residents speak French regularly at home.

Event details

Festival du Bois runs from Friday (March 8) to Sunday (March  10) at Mackin Park in Coquitlam. It is free but registration is required. Vishten Connexions will perform at 7 p.m. on the main stage on  Saturday (March 9) and 12:45 p.m. on Sunday. The duo will also offer a workshop on Saturday at 12:30 at Mackin House. The full Festival du Bois lineup is available on the website.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.