Harahan, Louisiana, and Ville de Léry, Quebec are separated by 1,624 miles (2,614 kilometers), however the two municipalities now share the close bond of a sister-city agreement. The cities’ mutual connection is Joseph Chauvin de Léry of Quebec, Canada, who was awarded a concession of land on the Mississippi River in the area known in the early 18th century as the Côte de Tchoupitoulas – today known as the City of Harahan, Louisiana.
The Consulate General of Canada in Dallas, Texas, covers the state of Louisiana and helped to facilitate the early connections between the two cities, beginning with an introduction to officials from Harahan, Louisiana at the dedication ceremony for the 18th Odyssey Monument in Loreauville, Louisiana in April 2023. The ceremony brought together over 300 people, many of whom are descendants of the Acadians expelled from Canada during the Great Upheaval between 1755 and the beginning of the 19th century.
Both cities rest on major rivers, making them critical hubs for trade and travel within their regions. Harahan, Louisiana, rests on the mighty Mississippi River. It is home to the Port of Harahan and hosts a connecting point for Canadian National Railways operations in the region. Ville de Léry sits on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River and is serviced by Route 132, the longest highway in the province of Quebec, which connects into northern New York state.
Mayor Tim Baudier of the City of Harahan, Louisiana, and Mayor Kevin Boyle of Ville de Léry, Quebec are equally engaged in support of this partnership and eager to create connections between their constituents. The first order of business for the two cities will be to connect primary schools to start a dialogue between similar-age students.
Mayor Baudier noted:
“Our sister-city partnership with Léry will open the door to new cultures for our children and opportunities for our community to grow and shine. We are so grateful for the support of the Consul General of Canada, Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, and look forward to seeing where this journey takes Harahan.”
Mayor Boyle noted the importance of Francophone culture in Louisiana:
“Louisiana still has some 250,000 devoted Francophiles, and the city of Harahan is committed to maintaining and even developing the French-speaking community, among other things. This partnership aims to offer the possibility of sharing our cultures and customs to foster our common French roots. Ville de Léry is enthusiastic about developing intercultural relationships, which will enrich our respective heritages.”
Promoting Canada`s role and commitment to the Organization International de La Francophonie (OIF) remains a critical component of engagement in Louisiana for the Consulate General of Canada in Dallas, Texas. Over the years, this work has led to a strong relationship with the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL). CODOFIL helps to support and grow Louisiana’s Francophone communities by providing resources to help keep the French language prominent in daily life across the state.
Both the Consulate General of Canada and Dallas and the state of Louisiana are eager to forge more local and provincial connections, like the partnership between Harahan and Léry. Louisiana’s Lieutenant Governor, Billy Nungesser stated:
“Louisiana’s historical and cultural bond with Canada endures when cities, such as Harahan, develop these partnerships. Given how much our regions have in common through our French heritage, it makes good sense to combine our efforts to increase economic and cultural opportunities for each other. Louisiana receives its most international visitors from Canada, and it is imperative we maintain these relationships.”
Consul General Susan Harper echoed Lt. Governor Nungesser’s support. She stated,
“The sister-city partnership between Ville de Léry, Quebec and Harahan, Louisiana symbolizes the strength that arises when communities come together to build bridges and foster cultural exchange. The relationship between Canada and Louisiana is special, and we look forward to continuing to build these ties at the local level.”
Over the course of 2024, the Consulate General of Canada will continue to develop these local linkages between Canada and Louisiana ahead of the Congrès Mondial Acadien (CMA) which will be held in southwest Nova Scotia in August 2024. Held once every five years, the CMA brings together the global Acadian diaspora for a celebration of culture and a reunion of families over a ten-day period. The event was last held in Louisiana in 1999, underscoring the strong linkages between Acadians in Canada and their Cajun family in Louisiana. The state of Louisiana will field a large delegation for the upcoming CMA, leaving ample opportunity to foster new ties at the local and provincial/state levels.