Grand-mére Annie Broussard . L-R : May Doiron, Gladys Doiron , Lewis Barker, Gloria Barker, Rita Doiron, c 1925. May Bouchard, champion of French culture and language received Order of Canada, 2002. Courtesy of PomquetHéritage. Restoration: Anne Louise MacDonald.
May Doiron (the one with the prominent bow ) grew up to win many awards, including the Order of Canada, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, and various certificates of merit and appreciation.
Her most recent distinction on June 9, 2014, she received an honorary degree in community development from Ste. Anne’s University, Church Point. https://www.usainteanne.ca/l-universite-sainte-anne-decernera-un-diplome-honorifique-en-developpement-communautaire-a-mme-may-bouchard
In 2008 , she was interviewed at her kitchen table in Pomquet, by Liz Burge, University of New Brunswick. She expresses the importance of Early Childhood Education:
May attributes her self-confidence to the caring influence of two sets of grandparents who helped to raise her after her mother died in 1927, when May was just seven years old and gave her “unconditional love and acceptance.” It is this sense of self-worth and competence that she has drawn on in her 60 years of activism, and taught many other women to claim too. Standing up for her values when external social pressures were brought to bear has both drawn on and strengthened her personal sense of self-worth, keeping it intact under siege.
No one would make me and my two sisters believe that we were not OK. Even when we made mistakes, we still felt good about ourselves. I think that is a big thing, that no one could make me believe anything different.
Perhaps the story she tells to illustrate the importance of keeping the big picture in view, came from her grand-mére:
A woman is walking on the beach with her grandchild. A big wave comes along and picks up the grandchild. She kneels down and prays to God, “Oh my God, bring him back, bring him back”. The next big wave comes and brings the boy back. “Thank you God! Thank you, God!”—and then she asks the boy, “Where’s your hat?” The lesson is this: never mind the hat! People give so much importance to very small things that they forget the important things.
Liz Burge asked May why she thought she received the Order of Canada on October 26, 2002. May’s reply was typically brisk: “You have to keep it simple… it’s being able to work with people, you don’t do things alone. It’s for what I did when I worked in education… and I worked for women’s rights, I worked for seniors.”
The Governor General’s office explained the award somewhat differently:
A woman of action and a tireless volunteer, she is a model in her community. Known for her deep attachment to Acadian culture, she is equally well known for her pioneering efforts on behalf of the women of her province. In particular, she has served as President of the Association des Acadiennes de la Nouvelle-Écosse and Vice-President of the Fédération des femmes canadiennes-françaises. She brings the same generous dedication to other community causes, thereby promoting the region’s vitality and development. Her constant availability for those in need is another example of her altruism and dedication to helping others.
In making May Bouchard an honorary member, the Association canadienned’éducation de langue française indicated that she “will stop at nothing” to help develop French language and culture. The prestigious l’Ordre de la Pleiade from I’Assembleeparlementaire de la Francophonie was presented to May Bouchard on March 23, 2011 in the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia for her distinguished record of service to the francophones of Nova Scotia.
In addition to other forms of community activism, May is a Board member of the Pomquet Development Society, a freelance reporter for the Courrier de la Nouvelle-Écosse, a member of the Pomquet Ladies Club, and a member of the Ste-Croix Parish choir.
May was part of the committee that established the provincial group for elder francophones in Nova Scotia, Regroupment des aînés et aînées de la Nouvelle-Écosse (RANE) With federal funding assistance, RANE has lobbied for the rights of seniors and organized educational events around the province. May continues as Pomquet representative of la RANE.
Since 2003, she has served on a committee to establish an integrated local community centre to support social interaction and affordable housing to enable seniors to stay in the Pomquet area. Considerable research on alternative housing rental schemes informed the committee’s approach to the province to fund just a fraction of what will be needed to build such a centre. In the scheme proposed, local volunteers would administer the centre’s finances, raise funds, and take full operating responsibility – something that May says will pose challenges to “figuring it out”.
May has also worked on a committee of the R.K. Foundation that runs a nursing home of the same name, as part of her commitment to seniors. A few of the improvements they have achieved include a garden, improved security for residents, and higher levels of fund-raising. May champions more research into seniors that would provide firm guidance on how best to help them maintain dignity and lead stimulating lives. Her experience working for seniors in Montreal gave her a lifelong belief that seniors must not defined in terms of their physical limitations, but as whole people.
Every night we would serve cookies with hot chocolate to our residents… a time for individual conversations and story-telling that taught me the importance of recognizing the individuality of seniors and treating them with dignity and respect.