On the Islands, the houses are big

Îles de la Madeleine, house, sun, sea

Are the houses made out of a different model? Probably. On the Islands, the kitchens can host dozens of people, the baths can hold loads of boots, and the beds can sustain countless coats.

There is something striking in the use of the word “family” on the Islands. Here, families don't have clear boundaries: the neighbour is the son of another neighbour's cousin's brother... It doesn't mean that “everybody knows each other,” but “everybody kind of knows” where we are from when we share our genealogy.

It is hard to explain this phenomenon to outsiders. Here, people always want to know the name of my father, my mother and my grandparents. And somehow, there is always someone who knows my uncles, my cousins, my grandparents' cousins... It is all part of the dynamics. On the Islands, we not only come from somewhere (the township has a great influence on who we are), but also from someone. And as a matter of fact, from a series of “someone” who made us who we are. While there were times in my life when — as pretty much everybody else — I wanted to distance myself from my family tree, now I know that I am part my grandmother, part my grandfather, part my aunts and uncles... And I carry this heritage around like a flag wherever I go.

Although this probably isn't true for everyone, at home, family is sacred. When I was young, every New Year's, Easter, Mother's Day and Father's Day meant a visit to our grandparents where my cousins and I could play in the bedrooms, laugh and scream, away from any adult... And then inevitably, after a few hours, an uncle or an aunt would come upstairs and ask us to be quiet...

 

Îles de la Madeleine, tablée, plats traditionnels

 

Even today, on my mother's side, all my aunts' birthdays are celebrated at the restaurant, no matter what. It is the perfect time to catch up, see the little ones who are growing up so fast and — most importantly — spend quality time together. On my father's side, every evening gathering ends with a bunch of stories about someone's father or grandfather, or the memory of the ones who passed away. And all that happens with smiley faces and sparkly eyes.

For us, family is a heritage, a tradition and a memory. Always there when we need it, even when we feel like everything is so far away. Sometimes, family is what helps us standing strong down here.

Par Nathaël Molaison

I came back on the Islands three years ago, and each day, I (re)discover the little details, the subtleties and — most importantly — the inspiration that this place brings me. In each and every one of my projects, I write a little piece of what makes us different and unique beings.

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