Acadians endlessly re-living past traumas over and over.

I recently briefly discussed the fact that the Great Upheaval was at the core of the acadian identity as a people with some No Dogs or Anglophones blog commenters.

Apparatchik, an interesting and articulated commenter wrote :  » I […] don’t happen to believe that a person/people ought to self-define exclusively through remembered tragedies alone. […] What I’m getting at is that re-living past traumas over and over doesn’t help us move on today. There’s a time to mourn, but after that it’s not right to keep re-hashing the same old sob stories. ”

I did not then take time to explain how the story of the acadians is much more that a sob story and it annoyingly stayed in the back of my mind…


The Great Upheaval is at the core of the acadian’s identity as a people. But do they endlessly re-live this past trauma over and over again? No, they don’t and it is something that outsiders completely misunderstand.

The 1755 deportation of the acadians is of course the founding event of their identity as a people. Before the deportation, they were french settlers in the new world. Sons worked the land that their fathers cleared, they had built villages and children would grow up and build their own houses. They lived in a historic continuity. After the deportation, they were refugees scattered across America and Europe, living in places where they were often unwelcomed and where they did not really fit, they lived in isolation. The world they formerly knew no longer existed.

This deportation is therefore the event that will define their identity as a people, but the deportation is only the beginning of the story.

Their story is also the story of the pride to rebuild together a church, a school, a college and to see the first son to become priest, lawyer or doctor out of this people once reduced back to subsistence farming.

Their story is about the joy of finding back lost relatives who too remembered the old stories of Acadia, the old songs, and the old ways, relatives who you could speak with in this language in which you could truely and spontainiously be yourself.

In 1847, Henry Longfellow wrote his epic poem Evangeline and the acadians recognized themselves in this story of courage and hope.

And in 1859, reading François-Edme Rameau’s La France aux colonies : Acadiens et Canadiens, they read at last, in their own language, their own history for the first time. Their story is about discovering that the story of one’s family was also the story of dozens, hundreds and thousands of other families. Their story is about discovering that you are no longer alone. And I think they must have enjoyed this newly found togetherness more than anyone because they knew the pain of losing it.

Their story is the story of a people that found back itself.

Their story is much more than the story of the darkest night they went through, it is the story of those who never stopped hoping and  who lived to see the dawn that followed.

It is the story of a resurrection.


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