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Réjeanne Bélisle-Massie: Village Noël Temiskaming Attracts More than Ten Thousand Visitors Every Year

Source:The Temiskaming Speaker

A mover and shaker in the Temiskaming area, retired teacher Réjeanne Bélisle-Massie came up with the concept of launching a Village Noël in New Liskeard inspired by similar initiatives in Québec. 

Originally from Blezzard Valley near Sudbury, Réjeanne moved to Haileybury in 1971 to launch her teaching career. The daughter of Senator Rhéal Bélisle and with seven brothers and sisters, it was imperative that all contribute to the community.

After a career as a teacher and head of a school for adult learners, she got involved in relaunching the Art Centre Artem, became head of the local ACFO (Association Canadienne Française de l’Ontario) to eventually create Village Noël in 2013 in downtown New Liskeard with the help of dozens of volunteers. She managed to get half a million dollars in grants to build the necessary authentic kiosks (small buildings) and transform the downtown into a New France version of Christmas with the accompanying trades, costumes, games, and meals. 

Now being held at the local fairgrounds, Réjeanne heads up a team of two hundred volunteers to build the ‘’village’’ in November for three days of food, song, games and fun reflective of a time gone by.

She was honoured with the June Callwood Award in 2021 and le Prix de la Pléade in 2019 (a very prestigious international award in the francophone world).

Marcel Vaillancourt, journalist and entrepreneur, engages Réjeanne in an informative chat about her journey and the impact her organization has on economic development in the New Liskeard area.