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  • Writer's pictureStuart Benson

Wakefield to be featured on CBC's Still Standing Jan. 19

CBC's Johnny Harris takes in the iconic Wakefield Covered Bridge during a recent trip to the village for his show, Still Standing. The show, which airs Jan. 19 on CBC, features many Wakefielders throughout the show. Photos courtesy CBC.

When comedian Jonny Harris set out on his first cross-country tour of Canada’s small towns for the pilot season of CBC’s “Still Standing”, he said he was concerned that once they had visited a few picturesque towns, things could get repetitive.

Still Standing, first premiering on CBC in 2015, puts the spotlight on small towns across Canada that are “against the ropes but still hanging in there.” It features Harris travelling to the communities and learning about their struggles. Each show ends with a stand-up performance tailored to a community’s story.

“What’s refreshing about doing an episode in Wakefield was you feel it’s taken some tough blows, but it's been weathered and things are well into a stage of recovery,” Harris said, referring to the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on small towns across the country.

Owner of Nikosi Bistro Pub Wapokunie Riel-Lachapelle spoke with Harris and shared how she used her knowledge of Indigenous ingredients and recipes to establish her restaurant in Wakefield. Photo courtesy of The CBC

The episode, filmed in the village from Sept. 9-13, 2021, and set to premiere on Jan. 19 on CBC, will feature many familiar locations and faces, including owner of Eco-Odyssée Michel Leclair; La Confiserie co-owner Marc Fournier, and Wapokunie Riel-Lachapelle at her restaurant Nikosi.

Harris said he and Riel-Lachapelle bonded over similar experiences growing up feeling out-of-place as children being sent to school with “non-traditional” lunches.

Harris struts along Riverside Drive in Wakefield last September. Photo courtesy CBC

“Her dad was Indigenous and she felt embarrassed at the fact that her lunch was wild hare-pâté while everybody else got a fruit roll-up,” Harris said about Riel-Lachapelle’s experience. “My dad was British, which isn’t to say it’s the same, but I went to school in a little fishing town in Newfoundland, and everybody had a cannon pop and a bologna sandwich, and there I was with a thermos of tea and a cucumber sandwich.”

While some children want nothing more than to fit in, Harris praised Riel-Lachapelle for turning her unique knowledge into a culinary institution in the village, which you can be sure isn’t shallow praise, as Nikosi provided food for Harris’ entire crew for the length of their visit.

Harris spoke to Low Down publisher Nikki Mantell across from the newspaper’s offices in front of the Wakefield turntable. Photo courtesy of The CBC

“It was really cool to be able to offer that,” Riel-Lachapelle told the Low Down on Jan. 9. She said that, not only did she get a chance to get to know the crew really well, she also learned some new things about Wakefield.

“I learned a lot about the train that, even though I was around in that era, I didn't know a lot of this stuff,” Riel-Lachapelle explained. “Even though we're such a small community and we think we know everything, we don’t really.”

The Wakefield episode of “Still Standing” airs on CBC Jan. 19, at 8 p.m., and you can stream the episode on CBC Gem for free.

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