Conche students link up with French counterparts to publish seafaring adventures
French artist Catherine Raoulas and her companion, Emmanuel Gravouil, with a copy of a book published by students in France telling the love story of two early immigrants to Newfoundland. Sacred Heart students in Conche have taken up the story and are publishing a companion book with the artists help. Photo by Aaron Beswick
Gildas' first trip across the Atlantic on a schooner was an eventful one.
The young, fictional French fisherman stood on the heaving deck staring at the rolling iceberg with awe.
Then - thump! The crew rushed to inspect the damage done by the bergy bit.
"That's my favourite part," said Dereck Gardiner. "When they were out in boat."
Across the table, the girls of Conche's Sacred Heart elementary pipe up in protest.
"The best part was when he met Meggie," argued Melanie Fitzpatrick of when Gildas arrived in Conche and reunited with his Irish girlfriend.
The grades 8, 9 and 10 students have good reason to be impressed with the story - they wrote it.
Sacred Heart elementary has teamed up with the French Shore Historical Society, the International Grenfell Association, Canadian Heritage, a French painter and a school on the Ile de Groix in France to put out a companion book, finishing the tale of Meggie and Gildas and their migration to Conche.
"And the history - don't forget the history," teacher Ida Gardiner said, adding to the students' discussion.
The students wrote the story last year in their language arts class. Ideas were pooled and put on the wall, from which Gardiner helped them weave events together before putting the tale on paper. For the past two weeks, the students have been working on illustrations with French artist Catherine Raoulas and her companion, Emmanuel Gravouil.
"The children are concerned with the transmission of the story of this place," said Raoulas, who also helped students in Ile de Groix illustrate their side of the story. "Groix is also a small, isolated fishing community, so there is much in common."
Roulas and Gravouil have been staying at Casey House as artists in residence with the French Shore Historical Society. Conche has been an experience for them - on the day in question, it was 20 degrees warmer in France. They've spent their free time out and about, enjoying the hospitality.
On this morning, an area resident dropped by with some cod and mackerel for them, both choice fish in France.
"Mackerel?" Gardiner says, upon hearing the anecdote, twisting her face in disgust and looking at the artists in wonder.
Cultural exchange, it seems, can only be stretched so far.
The Northern Pen