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Statement: Tribute - Hon. Viola Léger

Honourable senators, Senator Léger is a grande dame of the theatre and, of course, a grande dame of Acadia, and now we must add, a grand dame of the Senate.

Viola has had many roles in her career, and, in each case, she is an inspiration to her audience.

As a teacher, she inspired her students with her knowledge, her teaching expertise and her dedication. As an actress, she inspires her audience through the vividness of the character she portrays. As an Acadian, she inspires the public with memories of the past, the perseverance of a people and its future potential. As a francophone, Viola inspires her listeners with her engaging, authentic and down-to-earth language. Of course, as a senator, Viola has inspired us with her dedication to representing minorities by reinforcing the importance of culture in recognizing and understanding ourselves as Canadians, with her speeches filled with love and emotion for individuals and matters of interest.

Honourable senators, Viola is undoubtedly a grande dame wherever she goes. As New Brunswickers, we have been particularly touched by her portrayal of the title character in La Sagouine, in which Viola relives the sad reality of this Acadian woman of yesteryear with the humour that past generations needed to survive, and a reminder for future generations.

Here is Viola in the act entitled Spring:

This land, 'n the sea. Even then, she's the one that made us, 'n looks like us the most.

Usin her as a mirror, our eyes turned deep 'n blue. 'n having watched so long fer fish deep in the water, our cheeks rose high 'n our brows grew close. That's why we end up lookin like the sea that surrounds the country. Yep, that's what they says. They says we got a low 'n raspy voice. Maybe true. 'n that we don't talk fast.

Well, a person's gotta take 'mself for what he is, 'n not try to talk 'n walk like other folks. Nope, a person's gotta look like the land that made him 'n fed him, 'n that's what ties him up at home 'n makes him ache. 'n wakes up in the Spring, it does.

Dear Viola, before you take your leave from the Senate, I want to thank you and, above all, to wish you many more springs under the Acadian star.