Statement on the passing of Viola Léger30 January 2023
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement of condolence was issued today by Premier Blaine Higgs:
Marcia and I were saddened to learn of the passing of accomplished Acadian actress and former senator Viola Léger.
Throughout her life, both onstage and off, she championed the Acadian people, becoming a symbol of pride and resilience and acting as their ambassador nationally and internationally.
Many consider Viola the greatest actress that Acadie has ever produced. She was best known for her portrayal of La Sagouine, a humble Acadian cleaning woman, in the play by Acadian author Antonine Maillet. It was a role she played more than 3,000 times in French and English from 1971 to 2016, taking it to stages across Canada, the United States and Europe, as well as spending her summers from 1993 to 2016 bringing the character to life at the Pays de la Sagouine in Bouctouche.
She performed many other roles over the years, in plays, film and television, and in 1985 started her own theatre company, the Compagnie Viola Léger. In 1999, she created the Viola Léger Foundation to support theatre production and professional training for Acadian theatre artists.
Before taking to the stage, she taught high school literature and drama for 15 years. From 2001 to 2006, she served in the Senate, passionately representing artists and the Acadian people.
Over her lifetime, she was recognized with a range of awards and honours, including Officer of the Order of Canada, Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la France, Government of New Brunswick Award for Excellence in Theatre, Member of the Ordre des Francophones d’Amérique, Officer of the Ordre de la Pléiade, Order of New Brunswick, and four honorary doctorates.
On behalf of all New Brunswickers, I offer my sincere condolences to Viola’s family, friends and colleagues.