2013 Lieutenant-Governor's Award for High Achievement in French Language Literary Arts
"I started in literature by accident," says Melvin Gallant. "It was not obvious to me. I never imagined that a small country boy like me, who was born a minority, could become a writer.
Melvin Gallant's life journey is eclectic. First he obtained a Bachelor of Commerce from the Université Saint-Joseph before flying to France where he obtained a degree in Political Science from the Université de Paris and a Master's Degree in Literature from the Institut Catholique de Paris. He then returned to Canada to teach in Bathurst before heading to Switzerland where he obtained his PhD in Literature. He then became a professor at the Université de Moncton.
Upon his return, he noticed a gap. There were authors who write and meet for evenings of readings, but there is no structure in place to allow them to publish their texts. From there emerged the Éditions d'Acadie he founded in 1972.
He will take an active part in promoting the Acadian culture all throughout his career, but reserving a special place for literature. In the early 80s, he actively participated in the founding of the Association of Acadian writers that he ran for several years. He is also the founding chair of the journal Égalité, a magazine of political analysis. He is the author of essays, adult novels, poetry, youth novels, all related to Acadie. He is currently revising the English translation of the Métis de Beaubassin, so that English speakers can learn about the life of Acadian ancestors. "Acadia is the center of my work, there's no doubt" he admits.
2013 Lieutenant-Governor's Award for High Achievement in Performing Arts
Playwright, actor, dramaturge, director, arts administrator, coach and mentor, Jenny Munday is always ready to defend her medium: "We are always worried about the future of live theatre, but I tend to think it's not going to die and go away. It may go through a lot of changes, but I think it will always be with us because it is basically storytelling and we need storytelling."
Munday's first foray into theatre was less than successful. As a three or four year old girl, she whined until her big sister added a role for her in a play her sister was writing. When the day of the play arrived, Munday got stage fright and was unable to go on. "Sometimes I wonder if I didn't become an actor just to get past that, to prove that I could. I still have terrible stage fright."
This less than auspicious beginning grew into a 30 year career that has seen Munday work with companies across the country and receive numerous residencies and awards for her work. Still, Munday notes, "It's a lifelong learning process." Part of this process is finding a good base of people who you enjoy working with while also challenging yourself by working with different people, with people you don't know. "The basis is mutual respect. Respect for each other and each other's work, and also for the work itself. Treat the work with respect. It's not a hobby and it's not about your own enjoyment. You are doing it for an audience. You have to also respect your audience."
Janice Wright Cheney
2013 Lieutenant-Governor's Award for High Achievement in Visual Arts
"My creatures, whatever they are and whatever they are made of, must be life-size," says Janice Wright Cheney of her current textile-based sculptures, which include grizzly bears, coyotes, rats and cockroaches. Accuracy in form and scale matter, she insists; she wants the viewer to react emotionally and physically to the presence of the animal.
Wright Cheney was trained in fine arts--she received a BFA in painting from Mount Allison University in 1983-- but, in her contemporary practice, she has embraced materials that are traditionally related to craft and women's handiwork. For her, textile-based media and techniques resonate with meaningful historical associations. Works may be embroidered, knit, hand-dyed, felted or sewn from recycled materials. The materials for each project are carefully chosen; recent works have been created from old fur coats, hand-made felt, readymade taxidermy forms, velvet and onionskins.
Fascinated by the idea of "nature out of place", and inspired by the tension between humans and unwanted species, the artist is intrigued by creatures that are typically considered pests or vermin. Considerable research and planning is undertaken in the early stages of a new series, followed by meticulous execution of the work itself. "I want my work to be both conceptually rich and well-made".
Wright Cheney's work has been shown both nationally and internationally and is represented in several permanent collections. She has won numerous awards including the 2004 Strathbutler Award for Excellence in the Arts; in 2010 she was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts.