Atholville wants to make more room for culture. And given the imminence of the merger, the new cultural policy that has just been adopted may become a key element that contributes to forging the identity of the future merged municipality.
Due to its geographic position and the different communities that have helped shape its identity over the years (Aboriginal, Acadian, Quebecois, Francophone, Anglophone, etc.), Atholville believes that it has a great multicultural richness. And this wealth, the municipality wants to highlight it more.
The local council has been considering the adoption of a cultural policy for almost two years. And this one just got released. It is actually a list of intentions aimed at offering a greater place and greater visibility to the different artists of the region.
Four specific areas have been identified in this policy. We are talking here about the enhancement of heritage, the development of tourism with a cultural flavor, support for artists and actors in the cultural environment, as well as the integration of culture in all areas of the community.
“We want to support our artists, arts and culture. We also want this approach to consolidate our identity”, explains the mayor of Atholville, Jean-Guy Levesque.
A committee in charge of planning and directing cultural actions will ensure their execution. A first project resulting from this policy should also see the light of day in the next six months according to the mayor. However, this project is yet to be determined.
In the current context of local governance reform, this policy also takes on a completely different meaning.
Atholville must tie its fate this fall with that of Campbellton and Tide Head townships and the LSDs of Glencoe and McLeods. This will be the second merger in a few years, as Atholville recently incorporated the Saint-Arthur and Val-d’Amour DSLs.
According to Mr. Levesque, this cultural policy could thus serve not only to strengthen ties with its neighbors, but also to lay the foundations for the identity of the future merged municipality. In addition, the mayors of Campbellton and Tide Head, as well as some councilors were present at its official opening.
“We don’t want to impose anything on anyone, but this policy is, in my opinion, an opportunity to open up the dialogue and highlight what will soon become the Campbellton Regional Community. Our communities are culturally different, but this is not an obstacle but an advantage. Here we have the opportunity to create bonds, a sense of belonging through culture and the arts,” said Mr. Levesque.
Accustomed to groups (he orchestrated three when he was general director of the school district), he knows that one of the colossal tasks that will have to be undertaken will be the revision of municipal policies and ordinances. Although culture and the arts may seem secondary at first glance, he believes that this topic will have to find its place on the list of priorities.
“It is important to define who we are as a community, determine where we want to go, what our values are. And culture plays an important guiding role. If we already have a good working document to go by, that’s already a big step forward,” he says.
Atholville is not the only municipality that has adopted a cultural policy in recent years. According to Mr. Levesque, there are about fifteen in the province. In Restigouche, Balmoral, Dalhousie and Saint-Quentin they already have that policy.