A Publisher’s Life
Profile by Jane Ledwell
What’s the use of wasting all night at home, sitting on the couch?” asks Marcia Enman, publisher of the weekly La Voix acadienne, PEI’s only French-language newspaper. “I don’t think there’s one night I don’t do something, for the paper or for a committee.” Among other things, the active single mother is vice-chairperson of her municipal council in Wellington, vice-president of the Association Nationale de la presse francophone, and treasurer of the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women. “I love my work,” Marcia says.
“I’ve been at [La Voix acadienne] 34 years… I started there right from school. I think when I started I was a secretary,” she says, somewhat uncertainly. “I did graphic art. I worked at the subscription desk a lot. You worked as a team, and you worked all night to bring the paper to print the next morning.
“When I see actions people do and I see results… that’s when I get my rewards,” Marcia says, and La Voix chronicles action and change in the Acadian and francophone community. “We’ve always struggled for services, but I love to see the progress from the 1970s to now,” she says. “French schools, the community side of it, culture. There were once little Acadian kitchen parties, but now there are festivals all over the place. There are government services, and we hope they will still get better.”
Marcia is convinced: “All you need is someone to pick up a good idea and go for it. People in my community are willing to work. You get a couple of energetic people, and then you just go.”
La Voix acadienne recognizes this vibrant activity and energy. Marcia says, “La Voix acadienne is there to promote what our population is doing. To critique is not our first mandate, but to congratulate them instead.” Some subscribers, she says, “wait by the mailbox” every Wednesday.
Marcia says that in her parents’ generation, many had the attitude that if one person in a room was speaking English, the francophones should speak in English. But Marcia was inspired by her grandmother “a schoolteacher—a struggler, a single mom after my grandfather died,” Marcia says. “She’s my model. She said make sure you are never ashamed to speak French and to try to live in your language and culture.”
Through a column in the Journal-Pioneer and the “Acadian Beat” feature on CBC Radio’s MainStreet, Marcia gets the message to anglophone Islanders, too. “I figure this is a great way to promote and give awareness to anglophone population what’s going on in the Acadian and francophone population,” she says. “For me, it’s a little bit of exposure for people who don’t get a lot of glory. It is also important so that Anglophones know they are always invited.”
Now, the newspaper is responding to changing times as people seek news on-line and through social media. “You gotta change with the times,” says Marcia. “It’s a continuous thing. When the paper became computerized in the 1990s, I though we’d lose the whole thing,” she says with a deep chuckle.
“In 10 or 15 years,” says Marcia, “by then everyone will have an iPad or a reader and all the news will be in there, whether in English—or in French,” she says emphatically. “I really believe La Voix Acadienne will be in there.
Her next plan is to publish a youth newspaper in French. From meetings with young people from all six French intermediate and high schools, she notes with amazement that “The students have 200 ideas already.”
“I want to familiarize them with the newspaper, so they visit it, read it, and then they will be more apt to read La Voix Acadienne… We train them to be newspaper readers,” Marcia says.
“That’s my next project—and I don’t have a lot of patience,” she adds, with a smile. “We have no time to waste.” There are ideas to act on, and when the project is done, there will be the work of getting the message out, in French and in English, in the paper and on the radio, the Internet, or whatever comes next. Marcia Enman will be on it.