Sometime towards the end of the 17th century, and approaching the beginning of the 18th century, settlers from France emigrated to what is known today as Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick and founded the first Acadian community. From then onwards, the Acadians have led truly eventful lives.
In spite of everything they went through, however, the Acadian culture survived and flourished. Today, Acadians (and the people that descended from their lineage) have communities in France, the United States, and in Canada. Every year, Acadians all over the world come together and celebrate their history and rich cultural heritage.
As good as it is to celebrate, it is important to never forget the events that inspired these commemorations.
1. National Acadian Day
Every year since 1881, Acadians in Canada and all over the world have celebrated the National Acadian Day on August 15. It is a celebration of rich Acadian traditions through music, family events, and community festivities.
Unknown to many, a great debate ensued in 1881 as regards the date the National Acadian Day should be celebrated. One group wanted the Acadians to celebrate their national day with the French Canadians on June 24, also the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. The other group wanted the national day to be celebrated separately on August 15 because the Acadians are, indeed, a distinct nationality. Furthermore, August 15 is the feast of the Assumption of Mary, the patron saint of the Acadians, and it made sense all around to pick such a meaningful date. In the end, August 15 was chosen.
2. Day of Commemoration of the Great Upheaval
In 1755, during the French and Indian War, British colonial officers found some Acadians fighting alongside the French, and in retaliation, they carried out Le Grand Dérangement (the Great Expulsion) of the Acadian people. The truth, however, was that only a handful of Acadians fought in support of the French. The majority of them were neutral, but that didn’t matter to the aggressors, over 11,000 Acadians were upheaved from their lands and deported.
In 2003, however, a Royal Proclamation gave recognition to the transgression visited upon the Acadians, and July 28 was declared a day of remembrance for the Acadians who suffered unjustly.
3. Other Acadian Festivals
There are many other Acadian festivals, and every year, the cultural calendar of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is filled with many celebrations that bring together centuries-old Acadian customs with modern-day Acadian music, arts and culture.
These festivals are a genuine celebration of life from a people who deserve as much happiness as possible.