It is the 15th of August today and it is also Acadian Day. For those who does not know what I mean by Acadian Day, here is a little run down of Canadian history.
Have you ever wondered why there are French people in Canada? Really, the question is more ‘why are there English people?’ though admittedly the British were all over the place back in the days.
A brief history of Acadian Canada
So Canada was (as far as we know) colonised by the natives, then the Vikings, and then, and that’s the important part for this story, by the French. The French started colonising what they called Acadia, an area which now makes up parts of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Maine. In Latin, this means land of wealth (well, something like that, I haven’t brushed up on my Latin for a while).
We (the Acadians) had our issues with the natives but we were mostly on good terms, especially for trading purposes. For the French, there were a few good decades of easy life in this new land.
And then the ever-lasting war between the French and English caught up with those living in what is now Canada. A certain General Wolfe and his second in command Robert Monkton decided they would conquer Canada for England. Wolfe and his compatriots followed the shore of Acadia, gathered up all Acadians in every village and gave theme a choice of either joining the English cause or get deported. Most chose deportation as the other choice would of meant they would have had to fight against family and friends.
The 1755 deportation
Many Acadians did not make it through the deportation. Ships sank and people got sick. But for those who survived, their families were split up and some never saw each other again. Some retuned to their land just to find English families now established on them. Others hid away with the natives and waited for the war to end. Many exiles settled in Louisiana and over time the word Acadian became corrupted to become Cajun.
This is a really rough explanation of Acadian history. In short, we are the survivors of a war that raged around 1755 and 1763 in Canada. Acadian day is a holiday for us Acadians from all around the world to reunite. Some families that had been separated during the deportation get the chance to see their family tree whole again.
Celebrating Acadian Day
Acadian Day is also a celebration of who we are and a time to remember our ancestors’ hardship. And we all do that in a large Tintamar celebration (a massive parade of noise made by who ever wants to be heard). For the average person it might look and sounds strange, but for us we celebrate the fact that our culture is still alive and that we are not silenced or oppressed anymore.
Happy Acadian day to all and especially those away from Acadia today! Bonne Fête des Acadiens!