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Sally Bouchard

My Heritage, My History, My Culture
By Sally Bouchard
Mar 12, 2007 - 5:20:24 PM

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For anyone to be a spokesman for my history or heritage or culture, they should share some of that history or culture before they take it as their own.

Before anyone can speak for the people of Millinocket, they should at least be willing to listen to what the people are saying about their history and culture.

Moving to a town, and then deciding what that town needs without even listening to the people who disagree with them, nor caring about their history or culture, but instead using that culture to make money for themselves has some of the citizens of Millinocket in an uproar, and rightfully so.

Millinocket has an Italian Heritage Day. That day is for all of the Italians and anyone who was born in Little Italy. Being a French Canadian, and not being born in Little Italy, I would never take it upon myself to think that I could be a spokesperson for the heritage or the people of that area.

The Italian Heritage Day was started by the Italians, for themselves, and they also wanted to keep their history and culture alive and they made that day a wonderful time for all who share the history of Little Italy. It is their day, and it belongs to them.

For my heritage, I go to Madawaska and their Acadian festival, for that is my heritage; and thanks to many dedicated people, the history of my families and their culture has been preserved for all the future generations of the Acadians and the French Canadians.

My family history is in the St. John Valley, and a small part of it is here in Millinocket. Thanks to my father and his sister, I have the stories they told me about grown up in Millinocket in the early 1900’s; and no culture center can give me their memories.

Some of the people who want the culture center consider me, and others, to be mean spirited. Well, it is my history and my culture that they want to hijack, yet they ignore my opinions, assured that only their opinions matter.

They have also said that the Magic City Morning Star is a threat to the community. If it wasn’t for the Magic City Morning Star, there would be no outlet for me to voice my opinions on the cultural center or any other topic.

The true threat to Millinocket is that the opinions of the people of Millinocket are neither wanted or appreciated by the backers of an organization called the Millinocket Growth and Investment Council (MAGIC).

It is our town, it is our history, and we should have the right to express how we want our culture and history to be portrayed, as well as where it should be displayed.

Put something in the Newberry’s building if that's what you want to do, but do it with your own money, not the taxpayer's money. Build a community center if you want one, but do not use my culture and history for your own personal gain.

Do the people of the state of Maine, which already has very high taxes, want their tax money to go to a so-called Cultural Center? One hundred twenty-six thousand dollars of our tax money is wanted by the Cultural Center to pay off a loan from a bank. Do you think that's a good use of our money?

How many of the citizens of Maine could get a grant from the State to help pay off their mortgage? I would say the answer is none. I am not being mean-spirited, but money is being spent here and we want accountability.

Augusta and our town council need to start spending wisely and they also should demand accountability. They demand accountability from others, why not their friends?

The history of any town belongs to the people of that town, and those who have ties to the area; people who were born there, as well as those from away who have become part of the community. It does not belong to people who come and want my history and my culture to be a part of a business deal they hope to profit from.

Many people of Millinocket do want their history and culture saved for future generations. It is our history and we are proud of the people of Millinocket who built this town from a place in the wilderness to a community we all cherish.

Until the people are listened to and they become part of any plans for their culture, it is the people’s history; not the history of the board of directors of an organization called MAGIC. They do not represent the people of Millinocket, although they do represent a small clique who think they know what is best for the people of Millinocket and will not listen to anyone but themselves.

Our history and heritage are very important to many of us. It isn’t about making money, it is about keeping our history alive and to remember all that have come before us. Let's keep it that way.

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