Acadie! Acadie!

The trip up the Acadian Coast has spectacular natural scenery, for sure.  But this time the journey offered something more for the eyes. Something that had to do with the soul of Acadie — buildings festooned with the Acadian flag, streamers. Lawn chairs, trees, old wringer washers and plows  decorated with red, white and blue and the yellow etoile of Acadie. (France’s flag with a  yellow star on the blue  is the flag of Acadie). Scenes of early Acadian life populated front lawns, complete with traditionally dressed mannequins wielding axes or churning butter. If I were a part of this great family, I would hang giant underpants on my clothesline, red, white and blue, the etoile on the bum of the blue pair.

Special signs on homes with the family names — Hache, Melanson, LeBlanc— announced to passerby’s “Here we are, come visit.  We are all connected and probably related. We are Acadians!” 

Child dressed with Acadian flag colour glasses

Seriously festooning

This  festooning  started to become intense  at Neguac. Something was up. A 30 foot Acadian flag hung on the great Catholic Church in the town. Acadie is a nation within a nation and all of these descendants of the “Grand Derangement” —the forced removal of the Acadians from their homes by the British in 1755 — were gearing up for the Congrès mondial acadien 2019, World Acadian Congress set to take place from August 10-24  and kicking off from Abrams Village on Prince Edward Island. It’s a combination of conferences, displays, art and cultural exhibits, educational events, family reunions and celebrations all rolled into one. 

 I have great respect and admiration for the Acadian people. I love hearing the French language. That’s one reason why we relocated to this part of New Brunswick. Acadian French is a more archaic form and my high school Parisian French doesn’t always jibe with it. 

man playing guitar for a farmers market crowd

Je me souviens

The Quebecois motto is “Je me souviens”, “I will remember”.  I don’t know if Acadians have a motto, but I think that it should be “J’attends.”  “I will wait.”, just like Evangeline waited for her lover Gabriel in the Longfellow poem.  Acadians have had a long struggle for equality and recognition. They are not pushy nor do they  complain much. Even Chiac, a version of French spoken mostly in Southeastern New Brunswick, blends both French and English. They adapt. 

They do like to celebrate, play music, decorate profusely and quietly  build their strength. New Brunswick is the only bilingual Province in Canada now, and I like it that way.  Like in the Beatles’ song “Blackbird”, the line,  “You have only waited for this moment to arise” comes to mind.

Acadians  (15,000 approximately) were  scattered to Maine, New England, the Atlantic States, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Louisiana  (think Cajun)  and to the Acadian peninsula during the “Grand Derangement”. In a way they have had the last word. They have built a culture on the beautiful Acadian Peninsula. They have the coast with the warmest waters north of the Carolinas.  They have a community that spans the continent.  

P.S.  I just read that the Acadian motto is “L’union fait la force”,  “Strength through unity”,  Well, that says it.