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A full shanty of sweetness returns to the Prince Rupert Sugar Shack

AFFNO has a full four-day lineup of French-Canadian festivities planned for winter fun
Madame President of AFFNO, Danielle Dalton shows off freshly baked tourtière at the 2022 Sugar Shack, on March 12. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Oh, how sweet it is that there will be a full return of cabane à sucre, Sugar Shack, with new events in 2023 after pandemic limitations stifled the goodness and fun from our social diets for the past few years.

Association des francophones et francophiles (AFFNO) will be hosting the 13th annual traditional French-Canadian festival from Jan. 26 to Jan. 29 in Prince Rupert, with Kitimat’s Feb. 23 to 26 followed by Smithers’ on March 4.

The non-profit french advocacy and education society, which offers programs in the nation’s second official language, has its northern head office in Prince Rupert, where the all ages and family focussed events start on Jan. 26 (Thursday) with the Kick-off Social held at Cowpuccinos. Doors open at 7 p.m. Entry to the cozy and intimate 30-seat venue is $5.00, with local entertainment being a draw.

The Friday night dessert theatre is laughing its way to saccharine fun at 8 p.m. with improv, giggles and mouthwatering treats at the Tom Rooney Theatre. Entry to the 80-seat venue is $15 and tickets sell fast and are available at Homework, said Patrick Witwicki, AFFNO executive director.

The pièce de résistance is the Saturday brunch with pancakes, maple syrup, tourtière, sugar pie, maple taffy on a stick and more delectable traditional cuisine. Andrew Goulet will be fiddling with cultural jigs and songs to entertain the crowd. The party to celebrate the running of the sap and the start of maple syrup season commences at 12 p.m. in the auditorium at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre, with doors opening at 11:30 a.m.

Tickets to the family occasion, where there will be live entertainment and festival experiences, are $20 for adults and $15 for ages 12 years and under. Tickets can be purchased for brunch at Cooks Jewellers, through AFFNO online or by calling the office at (250) 627 1313.

“Ticket prices did have to increase a bit this year to offset inflation and increasing costs,” Witwicki said, but added that there will be treats, fun and surprises all around to make the memories valuable.

A new feature event being added to the lineup this year is a traditional artists’ workshop to promote Canadian heritage on Sunday afternoon at the Prince Rupert Library. The free open art workshop making cedar roses is open to all over the age of 12. Registration is required as space is limited.

“This event is a new special addition promoting First Nations art in a tri-lingual setting,” Witwicki said, adding a French interpreter will be available for those wanting to use French and a Sm’algyax interpreter will also be participating.

Closing out the festive fun is a Sugar Wrap-Up Party, featuring an open mic session at the Wheel House Brewing Company on Sat. Jan. 28, starting at 8 p.m. Entry is free.

“It’s so nice to be back to our normal dates without restraints,” the executive director said. “We can’t wait to see all the friendly faces we haven’t seen in a few years.”