Maine’s Gov. Paul LePage led annual Franco-American Day festivities on March 16, with celebrations at the State House in Augusta and at Lewiston’s Franco-American Heritage Center.

Felicitations and recognition awards were presented to six 2011 Franco-American Hall of Fame inductees at ceremonies held in the Augusta State House.

The evening festivities in Lewiston included a reception and recognitions honoring Maine’s first Franco-American Governor LePage. The governor was introduced and congratulated by Augusta attorney Severin Beliveau, a Franco-American and Maine’s Honorary Consul General of France.

In his remarks, Beliveau welcomed Governor LePage back to the neighborhood where he grew up. The Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston is located in the former St. Mary’s Church on Cedar Street, an area where Governor LePage’s family lived.

“It’s my honor to be here with you,” LePage said.

LePage told the audience about about being baptized and receiving his First Holy Communion at the church, and recounted childhood experiences in the area called “Little Canada.” LePage was born in Lewiston in 1948, when large Franco-American families clustered near the parish church and their workplaces in the nearby Androscoggin River’s mills.

“At one time, 83 children lived in the same apartment building along with our family on Lincoln Street,” he recalled.

Franco-American Hall of Fame inductees for 2011 were given public recognition by the Maine legislature for their “tireless commitment to the Franco-American community of this state”. Honorees included Gilles Edouard Auger and his wife Claire Lafrance Auger of Sanford, who attended the evening festivities with their local state legislators Rep. John Tuttle and Rep. Andrea Boland.

Also inducted into the Hall of Fame were Sister Solange Bernier, o.s.u., Dr. Edward Martin, Terry Ouellette and Patrick Paradis.

Claire and Gilles Auger are known for their dedicated support for Franco-American history, language, culture and traditions. They are natives of Sanford who each became professional educators. Their families spoke only French when they were growing up. They have been married for 45 years, raising four children and have 5 grandchildren.

“We are truly both honored and exhilarated to be included in the Franco-American Hall of Fame,” Claire Auger said. “We are also gratified to see the recognition bestowed on Franco-Americans for their many accomplishments,” she says.

Claire Auger received a Bachelor of Arts degree in French from St. Joseph’s College in Standish. She taught French at Windham High School, St. Thomas School in Sanford and at the Sanford Junior High School. She began the annual French Heritage Night held at St. Thomas School. In 2007, she created an informal group called the Rusty French Club, for people who want to improve their French language skills.

Gilles Auger is a founding member of the Sanford-Springvale Historical Society. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in French from the University of Maine and is an Army Reserves veteran. He taught French in several Maine schools including Lubec High School, the Gould Academy, Sanford High School and as a professor at Nasson College in Springvale. His Master of Arts degree in Education is from the University of Maine and he was a Fulbright Scholar at the Sorbonne in Paris.

From 1963 to 2007, Mr. Auger was the Voter Registrar for the Town of Sanford.

During evening festivities, Melanie Saucier, 15, of Fort Kent, flawlessly performed three national anthems of France, Canada and the Star Spangled Banner, which she sang in both French and English. Saucier entertained the audience with two more songs, one being a tribute to the French singer Edith Piaf (1915-1963), singing her signature song “Non, je ne regrette rien” (I regret nothing). Montreal singer and pianist Dominca Merola performed at a concert.

Maine’s Governor Paul LePage led annual Franco-American Day festivities on March 16, with celebrations at the State House in Augusta and at Lewiston’s Franco-American Heritage Center. Felicitations and recognition awards were presented to six 2011 Franco-American Hall of Fame inductees at ceremonies held in the Augusta State House.

The evening festivities in Lewiston included a reception and recognitions honoring Maine’s first Franco-American Governor LePage. The governor was introduced and congratulated by Augusta attorney Severin Beliveau, a Franco-American and Maine’s Honorary Consul General of France.

In his remarks, Beliveau welcomed Governor LePage back to the neighborhood where he grew up. The Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston is located in the former St. Mary’s Church on Cedar Street, an area where Governor LePage’s family lived.

“It’s my honor to be here with you,” LePage said.

LePage told the audience about about being baptized and receiving his First Holy Communion at the church, and recounted childhood experiences in the area called “Little Canada.” LePage was born in Lewiston in 1948, when large Franco-American families clustered near the parish church and their workplaces in the nearby Androscoggin River’s mills.

“At one time, 83 children lived in the same apartment building along with our family on Lincoln Street,” he recalled.

Franco-American Hall of Fame inductees for 2011 were given public recognition by the Maine legislature for their “tireless commitment to the Franco-American community of this state”. Honorees included Gilles Edouard Auger and his wife Claire Lafrance Auger of Sanford, who attended the evening festivities with their local state legislators Rep. John Tuttle and Rep. Andrea Boland.

Also inducted into the Hall of Fame were Sister Solange Bernier, o.s.u., Dr. Edward Martin, Terry Ouellette and Patrick Paradis.

Claire and Gilles Auger are known for their dedicated support for Franco-American history, language, culture and traditions. They are natives of Sanford who each became professional educators. Their families spoke only French when they were growing up. They have been married for 45 years, raising four children and have 5 grandchildren.

“We are truly both honored and exhilarated to be included in the Franco-American Hall of Fame,” Claire Auger said. “We are also gratified to see the recognition bestowed on Franco-Americans for their many accomplishments,” she says.

Claire Auger received a Bachelor of Arts degree in French from St. Joseph’s College in Standish. She taught French at Windham High School, St. Thomas School in Sanford and at the Sanford Junior High School. She began the annual French Heritage Night held at St. Thomas School. In 2007, she created an informal group called the Rusty French Club, for people who want to improve their French language skills.

Gilles Auger is a founding member of the Sanford-Springvale Historical Society. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in French from the University of Maine and is an Army Reserves veteran. He taught French in several Maine schools including Lubec High School, the Gould Academy, Sanford High School and as a professor at Nasson College in Springvale. His Master of Arts degree in Education is from the University of Maine and he was a Fulbright Scholar at the Sorbonne in Paris.

From 1963 to 2007, Mr. Auger was the Voter Registrar for the Town of Sanford.

During evening festivities, Melanie Saucier, 15, of Fort Kent, flawlessly performed three national anthems of France, Canada and the Star Spangled Banner, which she sang in both French and English. Saucier entertained the audience with two more songs, one being a tribute to the French singer Edith Piaf (1915-1963), singing her signature song “Non, je ne regrette rien” (I regret nothing). Montreal singer and pianist Dominca Merola performed at a concert.