Everyone has a role to play

Experience Bathurst shoots linguistic harmony up close and personal

They might call what they do “ambush tourism”. But they would mean it only in the nicest possible way. In fact, over the past year, Meredith Caissie of the City of Bathurst Tourism and Monique Boudreau of Destination Bathurst (and their videographer Jeff Chiasson) have been busy shooting short shows for social media – a sort of travalogue of New Brunswick’s Chaleur region, showcasing its cultural, recreational and historical amenities and, of course, highlighting the rich harmony of its linguistic diversity.

“Most of the people we go and visit don’t even know we’re coming, so the action is very authentic,” Caissie says. “We just pop in.” Adds Boudreau: “There’s no planning.  It’s not at all polished. We just show up and we video the experience.” Hence the name of the series, Experience Bathurst.

Since January 2012, the two producers – who are also the hosts of the show – have posted 47 five-minute vignettes on everything from local festivals and culinary events to rock climbing and mountain biking excursions. To date, the response has been overwhelming. “The first video last January generated more than 8,000 hits on YouTube on the first day,” Boudreau says.

The bilingual chat is, of course, an essential part of the concept. Says Caissie: “The tie-in to linguistic harmony is key. We recognized that northeastern New Brunswick, especially the Chaleur region, is a very bilingual community. We go back and forth in both languages in our daily conversations all the time. We have been very conscious of that in doing the videos. We wanted to make sure that this reality was shown in the videos. We don’t translate everything that’s said in one language into the other in normal speech, so we didn’t want to go there in the videos. We kind of have a flow going. That’s another thing that makes these authentic.”

Adds Boudreau: “The videos serve as a subtle, yet effective, indicator that there is mutual linguistic respect among the people of this region, and an appreciation for the unique offerings each language presents. They are a positive weekly reminder that linguistic harmony is thriving here.”

In reality, the videos are having an impact beyond their original purpose because some local schools in the area are using the videos in their language immersion courses every week. “That means that our community is actually learning about itself – about its cultural and linguistic diversity – in ways we hadn’t planned or anticipated,” Boudreau says. “It’s great, but we really hadn’t expected that.”

Which is to say that the ambushers have, themselves, become the “ambushees” – if only, again, in the nicest possible way.

This feature is a copyright (2013) of Dialogue New/Nouveau-Brunswick, which promotes and celebrates understanding, respect, appreciation and inclusion among the Francophone and Anglophone cultures of New Brunswick.


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