16 August 2019

New Canadian Heritage Minute: The Acadian Deportation

A new Heritage Minute has been produced commemorating the Acadian Deportation. This was a long time coming.

I recall when the Heritage Minutes first came out in the 1990s, some people thought they were a bit too saccharine and that they dismissed a lot of harsher moments in Canadian history. True, some where darker in tone (who can forget the Halifax Explosion or the fact we are now collectively terrified of the smell of burnt toast?), but some obvious topics were oddly missing-- including the Deportation. Luckily, the new collection of Heritage Minutes is now tackling some of these issues. You may remember in 2016 when they produced a moving clip on the Canadian residential schools. This month, it is the turn of the Acadian Deportation.

Here is a quick recap of some of the facts: The Acadians were the original French settlers of the Maritimes when in 1713, part of the territory came to be under British rule. During the Seven Years' War, the Acadians refused to pledge loyalty to the English Crown. Neutrality was their preferred stance, fearing they would be forced to take up arms against their own in the rest of New France. In retaliation against this refusal of submission, the British began removing the Acadians from their homeland in 1755, replacing them with their own settlers. The hunt for Acadians would continue for the next decade. Estimates vary, but it is generally agreed upon that 12 to 15000 individuals were displaced. Though many of the deported went to France, the British goal was to assimilate them into their own colonies. Following the Treaty of Paris in 1763, an article permitted expatriated Acadians to leave wherever they had been placed. Louisiana would end up being a major destination. There would be two big immigration waves of Acadians leaving towards this southern colony: the first would be between 1765 and 1769 where about 800 Acadiens left the British colonies. The second wave happened in 1785, undertaken by 1600 of the exiled in France, representing ¾ of those who had fled to that country to begin with. All in all, about 3000 Acadians arrived in Louisiana after the Seven Years’ War.

Though a one minute clip doesn't do justice to the pain, suffering and death endured by so many, it is nonetheless a welcome reminder of the fact. Here's to hoping the Heritage minutes will also consider finally making one on the Conquest of New France as well.

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