Avoyelles Police Jury President Charles Jones (seated) signs an agreement declaring Bellechasse County, Quebec as the parish’s “twin.” Avoyelles Commission of Tourism Director Wilbert Carmouche (standing) will deliver the agreement and provide a Power Point presentation to Bellechasse officials giving information on tourist attractions and the history of the parish. {Photo by Raymond L. Daye}

Avoyelles Parish Police Jury president signs ‘twinning’ agreement with Quebec county

To be presented in Bellechasse today

Two Avoyelles Parish “francophiles” will travel to Quebec, Canada, today -- armed with a recently signed “twinning” agreement between the “Gateway” parish and Bellechasse County.

Police Jury President Charles Jones signed the agreement at the jury meeting July 11. Parish Tourism Director Wilbert Carmouche and Avoyelles CODOFIL President Sheldon Roy will present the agreement to Bellechasse officials during ceremonies today. CODOFIL is an organization dedicated to preserving and encouraging the French language in Louisiana. Carmouche and Roy will tour several of the municipalities and tourist attractions while in Bellechasse.

Although Canada is considered an “English-speaking” country, as is the United States, the Province of Quebec is still largely French in culture, heritage and language. About 78 percent of its residents speak French. New Brunswick is officially bi-lingual with about one-third speaking French. The rest of Canada is more than 90 percent English-speaking.

There have been “Free Quebec” efforts from time to time that sought to have the province secede from Canada and become an independent French-speaking nation.

Facts to be shared with the parish’s northern twin include that Avoyelles is one of 10 Louisiana parishes with more than 10 percent French-speaking population and the village of Hessmer has the second-highest percentage of French-speaking population at 89 percent.

In a written statement, Roy noted that the meeting with Bellechasse and Quebec officials “will prove to be a significant step in promoting economic growth for Avoyelles. Our next step should be to reinforce and implement solid strategies for exchange with Bellechasse, and Quebec in general, and to begin thinking about twinning with a strategic partner in France.”

One hope is to encourage an exchange of tourists with Bellechasse residents escaping the brutally cold Canadian winters in Avoyelles’ mild winter climate and Avoyelleans exchanging the oppressively hot/humid summer here for the more comfortable environs of Quebec.

There are also plans to develop an exchange of locally manufactured or grown products between the two areas.

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