The INITIATIVE

The Franco-American Women's Institute--A Publication

 

Volume 1 Number 1

Spring 1997


Our First Issue! Tell us what you think.

Also, accepting submissions, please send for guidelines to FAWI2000@aol.com address below.


List of Contents



The Resuscitations for Eternity Table

By Kim Chase, Burlington

Poems

By Joyce Fairbrother

A Loving Memory of Rachel Morin

By Amy Bouchard Morin, Old Town

I keep company with ghosts

By Rhea J. Côté Robbins, Brewer

Gender roles in the Franco-American Culture

By Lanette Landry Petrie

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU ARE A FRANCO-AMÉRICAINE FEMME À LA NATURELLE ?

By Bonita Parent Grindle

News/Nouvelles

Advertisements/Petites Annonces





The Resuscitations for Eternity Table

(A poem found in the on-line conversations of the FAWI)

By Kim Chase, Burlington

 


I cannot believe you have your veil...

yes...and I have one of making my first communion on my birthday... 

Heyy
I just remember that i have a picture of myself as a first grader in
nun regalia I was part of a skit on different careers/hobs/vocations. 
Is that appropriate for the table

I will be displaying my Fist Communion dress and veil.  I also have my
First Communion certificate and my Confirmation certificate.  I also
found my eighth grade diploma.  I found a picture of Sister Hitler, but
she's not going to be on the table.  She would spoil my day for sure. 

all the goodies...all of them...bring them all.

How about Baptism pictures, First Holy Communion (You know the veil,
white dress, white long stockings and white prayer book--almost made me
look like I was an angel.  How about the Crusader outfits--you know the
crisp cotton tie on hats with the white capes emblazoned with the Red
insignia--  How about pictures of confirmation--the bishops, the elegant Red
and White
garments we wore--all the pomp and circumstance?

pagan baby certificates
 (some of the people in the class, including myself, thought they were
actually going to receive a baby in the mail someday).

"It was a very good thing. It taught us
about
charity and how to give to others less fortunate than we were."

Mine is a little water stained

"Get the stories, get the
stories, get the stories---before the people are gone who can tell
them.

--Just everyday lives , lived in
the shadow of, and in service to,  the Franco male.  Whenever we meet
with these women and talk with them, their eyes open up and they start
to see the value and richness of their lives and what they have to pass
down to us.  

"indulgences for eternity", "holy cards",
"shrines", and anything else that you can think of.

For once in my life I would like to have a clear space to think and
talk

-I just thought of the little angel statues that I have
--from my aunt who lived with us and taught me French.  They are little
porcelean (sp) angels and I can bring those too.

The Resuscitations for Eternity Table

who do they think donated all that money throughout the
centuries to build those mighty cathedrals all over the damn universe? 
PEASANTS like us that's who.

I've got praying hands that glow...my maman's favorite...they are on
her tomb stone as well.

How about an Infant Jesus of Prague that lights up?

I never made a shrine, but I did purchase a
little altar complete with candles.  I wonder where it is today?

Priez pour nous, priez pour nous...and so on.

we ALL had to sing the Masses,
vespers, holydays

Pray for Us.

Have I got Doilys!   You bet

THE RECIPE IS MISSING....I PUT IT AWAY
WHERE I'D KNOW WHERE TO FIND IT IF EVER I GOT MORE GRAIN, NOW 
JUST
LIKE AN OLD WOMAN I CAN'T REMEMBER WHERE I PUT IT!

all those
things are gone.  So I have no doilies

Every time we get something good going, the men want in. 

all the goodies...all of them...bring them all.
All Contents are Copyright©Kim Chase, 1997

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Poems By Joyce Fairbrother


Blood Simpled


Jesus 
bloody 
bleeding in my best underwear 
Christ 
- - that "time of the month" again?  
Worse than paying a bill, 
never 
get the account settled.
Always surprised, 
could eat nails 
I am so pissed;
need the iron 
anyway. Bitching. 
have to go buy "supplies" 
biting the heads off 
hollow chocolate sales clerks...
Feminine hygiene?
like girls are dirty?
guilt by association,
as if
guys don't have 
sweaty smelly bodies, 
pits and groins 
but that's manly yes 
and I like stew.
this is business. 
uterus closed for resurfacing
run D&C 
menopause take me away
from this copper smell 
and I am 
the prisoner of gender.

Blood time..
hate everyone..
pms psm msp...msg. 
for all I fucking care
Big Jack forgives any sin 
but being woman born;
bruise my heel Big Guy?
Bite me, I dare you.
Eve wanted to  leave the garden...
she was bored,
couldn't wait to discover the joy
of sex, of being sexed...
couldn't wait to swell and swoon and
generally be biologically determined.
Thanks Big Jack...
what a plan;.
this is my body 
bloated with pain 
and fashion statements
mutilated to men's vanity
eat this 
in remembrance of me
but never in the blood time...
came through it
but don't taste it
you might remember 
and be grateful
that  it is the tree 
bearing the fruit 
of the knowledge
of good and evil;
Eve smuggled out a cutting
between her legs.
You only think 
it is a clitoris

In the blood time 
there is not forgiveness,
there is no welcome
abandon all hope ye who 
enter there...
and don't think 
you're getting in cheap...
I want blood of my own.
Blood lust.  
Blood frenzy. 
Bloody pissed off.
Too close 
and I will rend
you into blood bits, 
spattering
your insipid manhood
like Lorena Bobbit 
at the deli...
good deal.
how could I have forgotten
thought I was immune 
to the pull
of the red river 
rushing, snaking 
down my leg,

Blood time and I am hostage 
to the life force, 
biological pawn,
oh, you're soaking in it. 
The henna in my hair 
highlights the
curious roselike petals 
and I am swollen 
with contempt
that I must ransom my life 
with..what the fuck 
is sanitary about napkins 
and invade the space with 
an amputated finger tampon.
pull back boys....
thigh smears you look surprised 
and I am copper contempt
how did you think 
Jesus H. Christ got here
in the blood time
I sacrifice myself 
on a gender chain
take me down and sink me
I hate, Irate, I hate 
that I am prisoner and
cannot escape
the philosophy of the uterus
not a tracking device or a hotel
just a big muscle with attitude.
I want my own penis 
to flip over my shoulder
-yahoo-  
and wave all around
I want to dip it 
in your blood time and 
write my name 
on the wall 
of your insides.
 
You know,
sometimes I just don't feel fresh.

July 28, 1996

By Joyce Fairbrother




Frankenstein's Daughter

	

Herr Doctor,
Pater,
before you peeled away
my outer skin
with a piece
broken bottle jag,
I was uniform,
whole,
but now the skeleton
is exposed,
the neural infrastructure
lies open to air,
and the raw flesh
shows
marks of artificial creation.
When I dream,
I am a conglomeration
of your dreams;
should I be grateful
I never sleep?

Carrying my scars 
on the outside,
I keep the beauty 
of a watermelon moon
inside secrets.
Did you know
how the parts and the whole
would mingle and dissolve
in anguished rhapsody?
Search the fever pockets
of your mad memories 
and tell me 
if you  intended
that  I wander
and wonder alone.

Monster.

May 3, 1997

By Joyce Fairbrother





Cursing Pomegranates


For Ziegfreid

When you descend into Hades
hellbound by ancient promises,
look up through root and rock
and picture me, a lonely goddess,
duty bound to move through green and gold, 
dance through to harvest sadness,
waiting impatiently for Charon
to ferry my heart back to me.

I give the Earth
the life I once gave you,
cursing the pomegranate
but never
the beloved eater.

April 29, 1997

By Joyce Fairbrother





Moonmist & Shadow


For Ziegfreid

Dreams are prophecy
to those who rarely frequent
Morpheus' adamantine halls.
Wandering alone,
I stopped to stare
at tapestries and masques of love
But then a darkman came
luminescent, dividing my night
into moonmist and shadow

Diana, sheath your silver arrow.
I am already pierced.
Does it matter 
whether it is yours or Eros'?
Skeptical of virgin birth,
your soulson offers 
the sensuality you fear.
Drenched in jasmine,
he strews rose petals in my path
and I stop, afraid;
you are never kind to those
who love  your chosen.

No chaste priestess,                               
I would lie down with him
by self-reflecting pools,
take him on a  verdant caress of moss 
with  my siren's watermagic
streaming over the darkman,
consciousness overflowing.
taking down first his hair,
intertwining my  alabaster hands 
with  the onyx of his mane,
as I let him unbraid mine.
Baring passion's breast
to draw my own bow,
you are not the only
huntress in the woods.

Diana, his words are ambrosia
for a starving soul too long
hungered for the kindred honey, 
spirit of affection
Bees do not resist nectar;
why must I
when a darkman comes,
luminescent, dividing my night
into moonmist and shadow?
April 1, 1997

By Joyce Fairbrother




Storm Tide


to Ziegfreid

Rising defiantly,
from weathered winter sands,
a single naked pipe,
still erect on the beach
speaks eloquently of loss.

Islands of desire,
we sit
knee to knee
on  barely felt
barnacle-encrusted rocks,
words flowing 
in tidesoft whispers.
Passion erodes
the line of reason
and my resolve
is worn smooth,
bitter and perfect
as mermaid's tears.

April 5th, 1997
Southwest Harbor, Maine

By Joyce Fairbrother

All Contents are Copyright©Joyce Fairbrother, 1997

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A Loving Memory of Rachel Morin

By Amy Bouchard Morin, Old Town

My husband's Aunt Rachel was a gem. She left this world and joined her parents on November 11, 1996 after having spent 5 years in the Orono Nursing Home and another year-and-a- half in a boarding home in Brewer. The people in the nursing home and the boarding home enjoyed having Rachel with them. Her memory was excellent, and she quoted poems, told jokes, teased, and related happenings from her childhood right up until the last two weeks of her life.

Rachel always had a story and a pocket full of Chicklets (that candy coated gum) for the kids. She lived alone in her house on French Island in Old Town. She never married, and she used to say, "Not everyone needs to be married. That was just not my vocation." She used to tell the story that her father would come home from the store to eat lunch at noon and say to her, "Qu'est que tu dit ma petite fille, quand je retourne du magasin a soir on va couper l'herbe." "That was my clue," said Rachel. "When he went back to the store, I would hurry and mow the lawn with the push mower and trim around the house and flowers with scissors, weed---do all the yard. Then when he came home he didn't have to do that work. He was glad, you know." Rachel always loved to work outdoors and her yard was always neat and flower gardens weeded. After Rachel's father died, she and her mother lived together for several years in a house that Rachel had built on Chapman Street on French Island. One morning Rachel went over to the neighbor's house on an errand and left her mother sitting in the rocker in the kitchen saying her rosary. When Rachel returned she found her mother had died. This was quite a shock, and one that she spoke of often. She used to tell me, "Always be good to your mother. She brought you into this world, and she is your best friend. When she is gone you will have lost a treasure you can't replace. You can never bring her back, and you just have the memories."

One time she told us about how, when she was about five years old, her favorite cousin Bernice, who was a little older than she, was going down to the river to swim. Bernice asked Rachel if she wanted to go and of course Rachel said yes. Now, Rachel's parents had forbidden her to go near the river, but she wanted to go swimming with the other kids. Bernice went home and picked up one of her jersey shirts (similar to what we call t-shirts) and some safety pins. She put it on Rachel, pinning it between her legs to make a bathing suit. When Rachel told this story she always laughed, "What a funny-looking bathing suit that was!" They went down to the river and her cousin taught her how to swim. Rachel said her parents punished her over and over again for going swimming in the river, but they finally gave up because they couldn't keep her out of the water. She loved the water, and years later whenever she came to our camp with us she would borrow a bathing suit and go swimming, or she would get into the little rowboat we had for the kids and row them around the cove. Rachel said that when she was young one of her neighbors had a little rowboat that he had made, and he would let the neighbor kids use it. They used to row out to the islands in the river, or over to Sandy Point, and sometimes they would fish. They didn't have store-bought poles, but would take a branch from a tree and tie a string on with a safety pin and use worms. She said, "We mostly caught suckers and would feed them to the cats, but when we caught a good fish we would take it home to eat. We used to skate on the river in the winter, too. We really had a lot of fun on the Island."

She remembered when her brother Nelson was born that she was in kindergarten at the Island school. They lived in the house next to the school, and at recess she had a paper she wanted to take home. When she got home the door was locked. Her father came to the door and said, "Go back to school, Rachel. The Indians are here bringing a new baby." When she got home from school the midwife was cleaning up the baby and she went to see her new brother and saw the umbilical cord. She said that she thought that was a pretty funny thing to have on his tummy, but that he was a beautiful baby and she loved him from the first time she layed eyes on him. Rachel and Nelson always got along, and when they were older used to hang around and go to the library together. Nelson was her favorite sibling, and she made no bones about that. The week before her final illness when she still had her senses, she told this story to my husband and I for the last time. Nelson was always on her mind.

Rachel used to tell us the most wonderful stories about her growing up in a large family. Even though Rachel had no children of her own she loved children and would play games with my young ones any time she came to the house. She would tell stories about the "old days", which of course my children didn't appreciate. But she always had a riddle, or a joke which they did enjoy.

Rachel and her brothers and sisters grew up in the house right beside the Island school, and she told of watching the boxing matches from a bedroom window. She said her father let the people who ran the fights run a cord and plug it in his house to supply the light. One day she was telling about when she was high-school age they used to have Box Socials. "The girls would pack a picnic lunch for two and decorate the box all pretty. They wouldn't put their name on the box or anything. Then the boys would bid on the box, and whoever got your box you had to eat with them. It didn't matter who it was, or whether or not you liked the boy. "Boy, we took the chance! It was fun anyway and something to do."

Rachel told how in the winter she and her mother would hurry to clean up the kitchen after supper so they could go up to one of the bedrooms and quilt. They would turn on a radio and listen to a Montreal station while they worked. They would hear the news in French and listen to French music. Since her mother spoke only French, they both looked forward to that time of day. The work they did was beautiful and evey stitch by hand. Rachel gave the quilts to me and asked that I pass them on to the children to keep them in the family. My children are now treasuring their gifts from the past, and I am sure will pass them on to their children as family heirlooms. Rachel also did beautiful crochet work and has passed on some centerpieces and doileys as well as quilts. What wonderful memories come to mind when we look at this work. I never knew my husbands grandmother, but I've seen pictures of her and when I see these works of art I can picture Rachel and her mother sitting, listening to the radio and quilting. It is too bad that nobody took a picture of them busy with their needles.

Rachel used to come over almost every Saturday evening. She would go to mass and then walk over to visit with us and watch TV. Then when she was ready we would take her home. She also came over often during the week, once the snow left and the temperature warmed up. We always had a big garden and Rachel loved snapping beans . She would always walk down to the garden and check it out, and when the beans were ready she'd say, "I'll come help with the beans tomorrow." She didn't often pick (even though she wanted to) because my husband and I would try to get that done before she got there, since that work is so hard on the back. But she and my mother-in-law would sit and help me snap beans for hours on end...and tell stories. In those days I'd can 40 to 60 quarts of beans and 80 quarts of tomatoes each summer. Believe me, I appreciated their help, and I treasure my memories of these two wonderful women. I bet they are together with the angels telling their stories and laughing. At least that is how I picture them.

I wish I could remember the poems Rachel quoted. Some of them were quite long (I am sure several pages in a book since she would quote non-stop for over five minutes). I should have taped them, but of course we always have "should haves" after people have gone. Those poems and stories were almost always very funny. I used to envy her memory. Whenever we would leave her she would always say "See you later alligator." Of course we would reply, "After awhile crocodile." and she always got the last word with, "Not too soon, baboon." Rachel is the only person I ever heard say that last comeback. I don't know if she made it up or heard it somewhere. Anyway, here's to you, Rachel. "See you later, alligator! You've left lots of great memories."
All Contents are Copyright©Amy Bouchard Morin, 1997

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I keep company with ghosts



By Rhea J. Côté Robbins, Brewer

God, this is a prayer
		to you.
A prayer of reason
	to know sorrow's caretaker
Barn door of the life--
	you knew me to
		belong to.
	Caught on a rug's snare
A chicken scream
		cut across the 
	   barn to the 
		other side
where my brother
	worked.
	Only to keep me
		company
those times when I
remember well
my youth.

Record this or resemble that.
	I cannot be valued
	graveside
		only buried
		the tears will flow.
fall. on deaf ground.
	Each time I see more
		clearly
	(the evil) he
		lives.
I'm sure he forgets me
		at each beat.
I ask for the truth--
	he can keep the 
	rest of his junk.
A trip to France with
	an eaten-alive
bug-infested dog
		flea-bag ridden
damp, shit-encrusted attitude
belonging to yesterday.

The meanness
		therein
floats
		on some kind
of blasphemy
	my direct way of being
	confounding
the expected.
How long will it take
	before he hits
me the final time?
	Money attached abuse
paid abuser.
Or when the truth 
of hate emerges.
The I don't care of
	disregard
already present
		has more to do with
	the sick sorrow
symbolizing a life.
we don't lead.
or never cared to.

In the 
	cascade of 
life melting
	into being
with each person
	grown late
	or sad
I say sorrow
		because my day
keeps becoming
		me.
I find I am
		tired
	worn down thin
	confused
	detained in creation,
God's pinky
	scantily pressed
	against my chest--
exacts my fervency
in the currency 
	sorrow.

Sorrow,
		a talcum--
a patina of dust
	blue, blown
		and willowy
an erasure of
		odors
sweet to medium
joy
	who can
  be taken
	easily
mistaken, as flower
	to be
	  baked
after kneading
Sorrow's dusting
pie-bound joy
	or bread
	dough long
time sorrow.

I take my gut
	wrenching 
		sorrow
wring it out
	dry
		to the bone
to leave watermarks
	on the paper
  and benchmarks,
where the day
	worn weary
		blows me
into lines of other
	sorrows
  hung out to dry
in a sun
	meant for more
than one heartache.

to be hated is
	inconsequential.
because the hate lasts
	only a short
while and crumbles
	underneath
		its own 
weight.
The unblessed
	unsactioned
are the ponies in a 
	pasture
	come spring time
Barn doors of disgust
	swing wide
	open to the air
	long kept
		tight
close.  dust ridden
salt taste on the
	shaft of light--
born pollen
	a sparkle 
like magic
	waves of wand
	serpentine
	 	sorrow
snaking out the door
past the way
of mice-scurry
on toward
	an abandoned
	bailer
		to cry the
wheat to hay
		gold a
			silken thread
happiness sparked
	with the misunderstood.

Wallowing
	swimming against the tide
		unhappy
		    once undone
shorn, shallow
		shoals.
I find kind people
	in strange
		towns
on corners
and the day passes 	
	quickly 
against itself
	boat in the open 
waters	
	throttle full open
and the sadness
	laps its waves
against my heart
	soul drenched with tears.

I keep company with
	ghosts.
	   They keep me 
busy
		guessing
jumping sideways
	or to the tops
		of trees
spying
		on me
	reading
		what I
		      write
over my shoulder
	gazing
		down on me
As I sleep
	like
		a mother
	worried about
	her sorrow
		sadder than
she was in her youth.

Only to remember
		days
	of deep
		melancholy
rain pounding
		at the windows
loneliness thick as cheese
	tiredness ground into
her bones
		from the cares
			of ghosts
	of the days
		long-lived
they keep dying--
	to watch her
live.

Late 1995 or Early 1996

All Contents are Copyright©Rhea J. Côté Robbins, 1997

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Gender Roles in the Franco-American Culture

By Lanette Landry Petrie, Bradley

 Franco-Americans are descendants of French
Canadian immigrants.  They make up approximately 40% of the population of
the state of Maine.  Franco-Americans go pretty much unnoticed because they
have been traditionally quiet and unassuming, living private lives,
maintaining their French language and culture for generations.

The French have been in North America since the 17th century.  Those
settling in Quebec were descendants of explorers and soldiers.  They
established themselves by trapping and farming. Others settling in Nova
Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island came from one area in
Western France where they were servants and laborers to the French royalty.
 These French people became known as Acadians as France named this part of
the world Acadia, which we now know as Nova Scotia, when they were in
control.  Acadians were creative farmers and fishermen.

The French and English fought many battles with the French finally
withdrawing, leaving the French Canadian settlers behind.  The Acadians
were subjected to a brutal deportation starting in 1755 which left them
very scattered.  Some were able to escape hiding out in the woods.  Others
were taken to points along the Eastern Coastline and some making their way
to Louisiana.  Others spent the rest of their lives traveling back to
Acadia to find their families.  The English had separated the men from
their wives and children sending them away at different times.  The French
of Northern Maine are mostly of Acadian descent.  The Québecois who
settled in the United States did so throughout Western Maine (Rumford,
Lewiston, Skowhegan, Biddeford), Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island,
New Hampshire, Vermont, along with upstate New York.  Their migration was
on the land bridges across the border separating the United States and
Canada.  The purpose of migration was the same for all -- work, mostly in
the woods and mills.

"Gender roles are the values, attitudes, expectations, and behaviors
defined by a society as masculine or feminine" (Werrbach, 1996).

Sex-specific roles are well defined in Franco-American societies.  Tasks
between men and women were seldomed shared.  The man's role was to exercise
authority, to punish behavior, and to provide protection and economic
support.  They worked in woolen mills, paper mills, shoe shops, in
harvesting wood and farming.  They worked very hard for very little pay. 
The days were very long and usually six out of seven each week.

Alcohol was a big part of a Franco man's life.  Having been conquered by
the English, left here by the French, not able to provide for his family in
Canada, leaving to come to the States, not speaking the language, and being
confined in a mill all day may be some of the factors leading to the
excessive use of alcohol.  At some levels, French men felt they were
entitled to drink and women did not or could not argue.  In Franco
societies the man is always in authority.  The Catholic Church has played a
big role in defining gender roles for the French by setting the man up as
an authority figure and moral leader.

The woman's role was to take care of the house, raise the children, and
manage life for the family.  She was expected to have many children, take
care of everyone, raise a garden, take care of animals, cook, clean, clean,
clean, nurse, teach and provide sex on demand.  French women were also
expected to look and act like saints in public but privately were seen as
sexually desirable.  The Catholic Church has also defined the role of the
French woman by raising up the submissiveness and purity of the Blessed
Mother as a role model.  She was also seen as the hope for survival of the
culture as she was able to have children.  When women married they were
expected to leave their single friends and stay at home with their husband
and children.  Men were allowed to keep their friends and outside interests
for life.

Infants were always welcomed as a gift from God but male children were
hoped for and were more likely to be pampered by the mother.  Girls were
raised to serve while boys were raised to protect and provide.

Mothers continue a close relationship with their children throughout their
lives.  She often becomes an ally and mediator for the children with the
father.  Fathers are treated with respect often times bordering on fear. 
Being the authority figure often puts barriers between a father and his
children.

In old age, women become revered and respected as the mainstay of the
family.  They are looked to for strength of spirit, moral support, wisdom,
continuity of the culture, and connectedness to the extended family.

For men, old age is not necessarily so kind.  Years of hard physical labor,
alcohol abuse and abuse of their authority, oftentimes leave them at a loss
as to what their role is. They have been defined pretty much by their work
and when that ends, they are left a bit adrift.  They sometimes find
themselves needing to be cared and provided for providing a great blow to
their pride.

Family patterns changed after World War II.  Franco-American's became more
mobile and moved to larger cities and away from their extended families. 
The close knit families continued but from a distance.  Young people today
have gotten college educations, lost their French language, have limited
commitment to the Catholic Church, and have become materialistic. 
Franco-Americans have become more assimilated and in some cases don't even
know who they are as a culture.

In the attempt to help their children be successful in the United States,
Franco-Americans of past generations have sacrificed much as they gave up
their language, in some cases, their name, and remained invisible so as not
to embarrass their educated children.  Gender roles, for the most part, are
still defined by sex-specific duties but are becoming blurred.  The
feminist movement in this country has had an impact on Franco families but
at a slower rate than mainstream America.  Intermarriage with other
cultures, mostly with other Catholic cultures, and public school attendance
have also changed the commitment to traditional culture.  There appears to
be a resurgence to ethnicity recently.  Being bilingual is now being looked
at as providing more opportunities in the global business trade and
institutions are being asked to develop multicultural programs to meet
requirements for financial assistance.  As the world continues to get
smaller, diversity is becoming necessary to survival.

Work Sited

Ethnicity and Family Therapy, The Guilford Press, NY. 1982.
"French Canadian Families," Langelier, Régis,
Université Laval, Quebec, Canada

Quintal, Claire. "Historical and Cultural Introduction,"
Assumption College, Worcester, Massachusetts

Werrbach, James.  "Masculine Gender Role,"  EAP
Messenger,  October, 1996.

Personal interviews with ten Franco-American women between the ages of
forty and ninety-five who came from several places in New England and had
different life experiences. All Contents are Copyright©Lanette Landry
Petrie, 1997 

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HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU ARE A FRANCO-AMÉRICAINE FEMME À LA NATURELLE ?

By Bonita Parent Grindle, Old Town

1. You know you are a Franco femme when you change the subject five times in one sentence without even thinking about it.
2. You know you are a Franco femme when you are listening to someone speak and they change the subject five times in one sentence and everything they say makes perfect sense to you.
3. You know you are a Franco femme when the walls of your maman's and grandmere's kitchen are experienced as a visit to a private art exhibit.
4. You know you are a Franco femme when you hear the new world french spoken and in your heart you hear a melody that the most remarkable song bird cannot sing.
5. You know you are a Franco femme when the church and it's traditions has an overwhelming power over you--even when you have abandoned the traditional church teachings.
6. You know you are a Franco femme when you have an ability to freely Laugh Out Loud at yourself and your peers and it's okay with your soeurs.
7. You know you are a Franco femme when your closet is full of life-sized statues of the Virgin Mary, First Communion Veils, jetons, holy pictures and Midnight Mass gowns.
8. You know you are a Franco femme when you believe that nuns float two inches above the floor in much the same manner that Jesus walked on water.
9. You know you are a Franco femme when your heart beats in an unique franco rhythm with your franco soeurs hearts as you share your upbringings, your fears, your pain, your joy, and your dreams .
10. You know your are a Franco femme when your heart swells with pride every time your soeur succeeds.
11. You know you are a Franco femme when your heart breaks in pain as the uninformed tell their dumb frenchmen jokes.
12. You know you are a Franco femme when you know you will break the silence that for generations has been imposed upon you and your soeurs.
13. You know you are a Franco femme when in a many situations you clearly understand the meaning of being an hyphenated American (Franco-American).
14. You know you are a Franco femme when everyone expects you to do everything and you just do it naturally and you do it with love.
15. You know you are a Franco femme when you hear the Star Spangled Banner and see the American flag raised and it is almost impossible to contain your joy and pride and at the same time....
16. You know you are a Franco femme when you hear O Canada and watch as the beautiful Maple Leaf flag is raised and your heart and mind flood with memories of your maman, your papa, and all those who gave you your rich heritage.
Indeed, the Franco femme is the genuine natural woman. Vive la Franco femme a la naturelle.

Bonita Parent-Grindle. June 5, 1997. Franco American Women's Institute.

(All portions of the above are copyrighted and by law may not be reproduced without the express permission of the author and the Franco American Women's Institute.


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News/Nouvelles



Franco-American Women's Iniative: Some of the projects which we have worked on thus far in the Bangor area are:

  • Meeting twice a month at Borders Bookstore and listed in their announcement bulletin to raise community awareness of our presence. We are meeting in the community because some women are intimidated by the university setting as a gathering place.
  • Panel at the Maine Women's Studies Conference in the Fall on Women and the Church (ten or more presented)
  • Listed in the Maine Women's Fund as a tribute to our Franco-American Femmes
  • Annual Banquet at Winterport Inn
  • Listed in the Encyclopedia on New England Culture
  • Seeking Listing in the Women's Liberation Resource Network/WEB
  • Presentation for the Women's History Celebration entitled: "Did She or Didn't She?: Franco-American Women in Parochial Schools (ten presented)
  • Presentation to Maison Marcotte about Franco-American women's culture to 50 residents, and also to begin FAWI chapter there
  • Listing in the Portland Sunday Telegram about the movement in the special section on Women's History month
  • An online daily discussion of Franco-American women which is vital and exciting to issues which we are thinking about or which concern us
  • Monthly article on Franco-American women/FAWI appearing in The Feminist Times
  • Presentation at Borders on Franco-American folklore by Lucille Gosselin
  • Maine Breast and Cervical Program Special Populations Committee
  • Presentations on Breast Cancer in relation to culture
  • Ongoing class presentations in all areas of education
  • The Franco-American Women's Anthology
  • One member, Amy Bouchard Morin participated in the UMaine/UAngers (France) exchange researching connections between Franco women's handiwork and the work done by women in western France.
  • French Club that meets once a month at the French Island (in Old Town) Community Center. People trying to reclaim their use of the French language by speaking and hearing only French for 2 hours a month.
  • Book on the parochial school experience
  • Book on Memere stories
  • Culturefest in Bangor in May
  • Member of Maine Women's Studies Consortium
  • Race, Gender and Culture, Panel, YWCA, April 15, 1997
  • Eastern Maine Medical Center Family Practice Residency, Presentation, Eastern Maine Medical Center, History and Health are Interconnected, April 17, 1997
  • Dragon Farm Symposium, Camden, Maine, April 19, 1997
  • 4-21-97
  • WEB Page with several links: http://www.fawi.net/
  • Accepted to present at the national conference sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the capstone conference of a series of five, entitled: Inclusive & Interdisciplinary: Building the New Curriculum Conference, two panels of 12 femmes will be presenting
  • Liaison with Women's Resource Center as link between community and U/Maine Campus Franco-American Women
  • Searching for Our Roots I France: Franco-American Women's Art and Heritage, WIC Lunch Series, April 30, 1997
  • Several areas of expertise among our membership on many areas: Franco-American women's literature, gardening, house building, science, education, Quebec/Acadian culture, needlecraft, needlepoint, quilts, activism, writing, dance, the Religious, the Church, French language, communication, folklore, song, sayings, community organizing, art, forestry, the Northeast Franco population, Quebec, and other cultures in relation to Franco-American culture.
  • In the works: Granting processes and other funding research.
  • Work with elderly to set up teas and special events to honor our wonderful franco femme elders
  • April 22, 1997 Maine History Class at University of Maine (Orono) Presentation of the French Island Oral History Project "Nos Histoire de l'Ile - Our Stories of the Island" -- Information pertaining to the formation of our group (why and how we organized), and process we used to gather the oral history of life on French Island in Old Town, Maine during the early-mid 1900s, as well as some of the history and stories taken from the transcripts.)
  • May 19, 1997 Quebec May Term class - Slide show presented (in French) titled: "Franco-American Women's Art: Culture and Skills Learned at Maman's Knee"
  • June 16, 1997 Orono High School French Class - Slide show presentation to titled "Franco-American Women's Art: Culture and Skills Learned at Maman's Knee." English (some French)
  • June 17, 1997 Old Town Museum -- Presentation of "Nos Histoire de l'Ile - Our Stories of the Island" - the formation of our group (why and how we organized), and process we used to gather the oral history of life on French Island in Old Town, Maine during the early-mid 1900s as well as some of the stories taken from the transcripts.)
  • July 14, 1997 USIA-sponsored Summer Institute for educational leaders from Africa -- Presentation at the French Island Community Center of fhe French Island Oral History Project "Nos Histoire de l'Ile - Our Stories of the Island" to the -Information pertaining to the formation of our group (why and how we organized), and process we used to gather the oral history of life on French Island in Old Town, Maine during the early-mid 1900s as well as some of the history and stories taken from the transcripts.) As well as a walking tour of some of the sites discussed in the presentation.
  • Sunday Programs at the Old Town Museum (begins at 2:00 pm): June 22, Amy Morin, Old Town, French Island Oral History Project "Nos Histoire de l'Ile; June 29, Lanette Landry Petrie, Bradley, My Mother's Walls--Franco-American Art; August 10, Franco-American Women's Institute, representatives.
  • June 26, Lillianne Labbé and Don Hinkley, Summer Delight Concert Series, Pickering Square Downtown Bangor.
All Contents are Copyright©FAWI, 1997

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Advertisements/Petites Annonces



Writing Women: The Textures, Textiles, and Texts of Our Lives

This is a course to explore the times of authoring in women's lives. Who has written a recipe, in a baby book, made a quilt or some other hand crafted item? Those are the beginnings of writing a woman's life. This course will open the definition of what writing is, and how women record the lives of their families and themselves. Writing as a daily excursion into the ordinary made new. Writing woman into the consciousness of our lives to value the views that women bring to living. This course, using creative nonfiction as the writing medium, through workshop and discussion format, will find your writing voice and release the power of your voice. There will also be three texts used in exploring other facets of writing. Have you ever had the urge in the back of your mind to write something? Well, you have been writing all along, come find out how much of an author you are and then continue your writing journey through the textures, textiles, and texts of your life.
All Contents are Copyright©Rhea J. Côté Robbins, 1997

Texts to be used: Silences by Tillie Olsen, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros and Peyton Place by Grace Metalious.

Course which will be offered by UMA, CE in July and taught by Rhea J. Côté Robbins. Call UMA, Continuing Education Department for registration information.

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Old Women's Wisdom

A wonderful book about the life experiences of women with 80 plus years of living life to the fullest. Their stories of culture: Franco-American, Acadian, Native American, Sweedish, and English language as well as isolation and economics are sure to intrigue and enlighten. The Women of this book are from Aroostook County, Maine and they give a genuine portrayal of the way life used to be for women growing up in "the County".

Read the women from these pages and learn why there has been much support for an important project like this. A book project supported by the Maine Women's Fund and developed by the Aroostook Area Agency on Aging, Presque Isle, Maine, USA.

$10.95 per book or audio cassette plus shipping & handling.

Shipping & Handling:
To order (Visa and Mastercard only), please phone (207) 764-3396 or Maine Toll Free 1-800-439-1789 or arooage@ainop.com.

By snail mail, please write to:
Aroostook Area Agency on Aging
ATTN: Old Women's Wisdom
33 Davis Street
Presque Isle, ME 04769
All Contents are Copyright©AAAA, 1997

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Nos Histoires de l'Ile livre de cuisine

A Collection of Recipes from French Isalnd in Old Town, Maine

The above collection of approximately 150 recipes from French Island in Old Town, Maine is now available at for $7.50 (hand delivered) or $10.00 (which covers postage and handling). This collection is a compilation of recipes used in the late 1800s and the early-to-mid 1900s.

Many of these recipes have stories that go with them. You can find a recipe to make soap - (that's right, soap to clean), as well as soup to eat. There are recipes for boudin, corton, root beer, mincemeat, white perch chowder and rabbit pie, as well as delicious cakes, cookies, pies, and much more. All this in a spiral bound format on antique white paper with "old" pictures on the cover and section dividers.

The proceeds from this cookbook will go towards the cost of producing another book (in process) with stories taken from oral interviews with people who resided on French Island during this same time frame, at least 200 pictures, maps and U.S. Census, as well as a history of the Island, and more.

Nos Histoires de l'Ile is a non-profit group working to preserve the oral, living-history of these Franco-Americans.

To order or for more information contact Amy Morin at: Tel. 207/581-4220

You can contact Amy at her email address: Amy_Morin@voyager.umeres.maine.edu

mailing address:
Canadian-American Center
154 College Avenue
Orono, ME 04473



La Femme Franco-Américine/The Franco-American Woman

Sous la direction de/Under the direction of Claire Quintal
Institut Français
500 Salisbury Street
P.O. Box 15005
Worcester, Ma 01615-0005

This book contains the stories of individual lives and studies of Franco-American women as a group. You will learn about les filles du roi, who left France in the 17th century to become wives and mothers in the New World of an untamed continent, and about farmers' daughters who left Canada in the 19th century to become workers in the new world of the Industrial Revolution.

Behind each story, there is a face, that of yesteryear and that of today. Each account bears the imprint of courage and perseverance against great odds. Each face bears witness tothe endurance and abnegation which characterized these women, generation after generation.

To order: Send $14.95/US and $3 postage/handling to:
Institut Français
500 Salisbury Street
P.O.Box 15005
Worcester, Ma 01615-0005



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COPYRIGHT NOTICE This publication is copyrighted and all rights are reserved by the writers. No part of this publication may be sold, copied, reproduced, transmitted, transcribed, stored in a retrieval system or translated into any language or computer language, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, magnetic, optical, chemical, manual or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the writers. For more information, comments or help, please write For comments or help, webmaster: RJCR@aol.com

Last updated June 17, 1997