SUMMERSIDE, PEI – March 17, 2013 – Who would have thought, back in 1967, when a group of artisans got together under the name “La Guilde acadienne” that their organization would still exist some 46 years later and that it would win the 2013 Co-op of the Year Award!
That’s exactly what happened March 16 in Summerside when the Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of PEI honored the group, known as Abram-Village Handcraft Co-op since 1973, for its numerous accomplishments, its success and its impact on the community throughout the decades and especially in the past year. The award was sponsored by Evangeline-Central Credit Union.
The Guilde acadienne first opened a shop in the home of Arthur and Joséphine Arsenault of Abram-Village. The following year, the group moved the store to the community’s former schoolhouse. In 1973, the member artisans formally incorporated themselves as a co-op and built a gift shop on Cannontown Road. In 2012, the organization celebrated its 45th anniversary.
Today, the building includes a gift shop featuring PEI handcrafts, a quilt gallery and a fabric museum. The group “Les Doigts magiques” (The Magic Fingers) meets regularly to make quilts to be sold to support the handcraft shop. The co-op sells a wide variety of handcrafted products, including quilts, hooked mats, pottery, ceramic products, Acadian shirts, sweaters, woolen socks and mittens, crocheted placemats, painted frames, knitted bedspreads, wooden products and Acadian flags.
Over the years, the building was renovated and modernized several times. Last year, the building was made more wheelchair-friendly and several major changes were made to the museum and the quilt gallery.
The co-op, which now has 60 members, employs a salesperson from June to the end of September, along with a student in July and August. Last year, an interactive crafting experience was added for tourists; it consisted of spinning rabbit wool with Melvin and Lorraine Gallant.
For nearly half a century, this co-op has played a major role in educating younger artisans, transmitting to them authentic traditional Acadian values and handcrafting skills.
The two other finalists in the 2013 Co-op of the Year category were Le Village des Sources l’Étoile Filante Co-op, based at the Centre Goéland in Cape Egmont, and the Coopérative de développement cultural et patrimonial de Mont-Carmel.
CUTLINE 1: Alfred Arsenault, left, general manager of Evangeline-Central Credit Union, which sponsors the 2013 Entrepreneurs Gala, proudly presents the trophy for the 2013 Co-op of the Year to Yvonne Arsenault, vice-president of the Abram-Village Handcraft Co-op. Martin Marcoux, a member of the Acadian Chamber executive, helped with the presentation of the award.
CUTLINE 2: Angèle Arsenault, left, secretary-treasurer with the RDÉE and president of the Conseil de développement coopératif de l’Î.-P.-É., presents a finalist certificate to Caroline Arsenault, board member of the Coopérative de développement culturel et patrimonial de Mont-Carmel.
CUTLINE 3: Angèle Arsenault, left, secretary-treasurer with the RDÉE and president of the Conseil de développement coopératif de l’Î.-P.-É., presents a finalist certificate to Brian Gallant, a member of the board of the Coopérative Le Village des Sources l’Étoile Filante.
For more information:
Raymond J. Arsenault
2013 Entrepreneurs’ Gala