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By: Angelique Binet Editor: Tim Currie Posted: Nov. 24, 1999 NovaNewsNet
|The Acadian community launched plans last week for a third international Acadian congress to be held in 2004. The event will celebrate the 400th anniversary of explorer Samuel de Champlain's arrival in Nova Scotia and the construction of the fortress at Port Royal. The congress will enable Acadians from all over the world to meet their relatives during activities, conferences and family meetings.|
| The international Acadian congress to become a regular event
Nova Scotia will host a third international celebration of Acadian culture in the summer of 2004. The event follows two previous gatherings: New Brunswick in 1994 and Louisiana in 1999. Organizers said, for the first time, Acadians will go back to their roots by gathering as families: Leblancs, Richards, d'Entremonts, and other families with strong lineages.
The Society for Acadia -- Nova Scotia 2004 met last weekend at the Ramada hotel in Dartnouth to elect members of the governing board in charge of the next international congress.
"We are pleased Acadians feel more and more involved in the Acadian cultural events," says Harley d'Entremont, one of the elected members. "More than 120 people are attending this assembly, whereas in 1994 only five people gathered for the preparation of the first meeting in Moncton."
The assembly elected 10 members to the governing board from Acadian education, youth and business organizations. They come from Chéticamp, metro Halifax, and the southern shore of Nova Scotia.
"The board hasn't fixed special deadlines yet," says d'Entremont. "We've just discussed the vision and the priorities of the third international Acadian congress --especially the fact that Acadian families will be able to meet together, by name, Leblanc with Leblanc."
He says the board will decide the event's finances, sponsorship and communication strategy at its next meeting on Dec. 8 .
"The event will have good benefits for tourism," says d'Entremont. "Last summer, the international congress in Louisiana attracted more than 250,000 visitors -- including Acadians and non Acadians."
Nova Scotia, a mother land for Acadians
"Nova Scotia is like the Holy land for Acadians," says d'Entremont. "Lots of Acadians from Louisiana come to Grand Pré (Nova Scotia) as pilgrims to commemorate the deportation of the Acadians by the English in 1755."
He says the impact of the next international congress will be powerful force on the Acadian community in Nova Scotia: it will reinforce the community's spiritual links with the Acadians from all over the world.
Léonard Guoguen was an organizer of the 1994 congress in New Brunswick. He says, "lots of Acadian flags are now blowing in New Brunswick because people are more conscious of their roots across the world." The first congress in 1994 had gathered 300,000 Acadians for four days, gathering 70 families. They participated to 160 conferences dealing with the preparation of Acadia's 400th anniversary in 2004. This congress was opened by the Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali of the United Nations.
The second international Acadian congress took place in Louisiana last summer. It was called "CMA-Louisiane 1999". Acadians from Australia, France, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia came to meet their relatives in the U.S. D'Entremont says the event attracted about 250,000 visitors -- including whole families of between 2,000 and 5,000 members. He says participating communities provided accomodations to visitors and organized actvities and conferences for them. The CMA-Louisiana 1999 has been organised to resemble the 1994 but with a special emphasis on the unique Louisina culture, mixing French and Créole cultures.
The Nova Scotia congress in 2004 will be organized in the same way. The board decided the event will be supported largely by individual contributions. Anyone from Nova Scotia can beceome involved in the society for a $5 fee.
Back to the origins through the Acadian history
"We want to celebrate the reunion of Acadian families," says d'Entremont. "It's like a spiritual travel through Acadian history until the deportation of the Acadian population by the English in 1755."
Eddy Richard, an Acadian from Louisiana, U.S, has already booked the Halifax Metro Centre to gather the Richards from all over the world.
"Acadians are passionate about genealogical research," says Harley d'Entremont. "Most people who will come in 2004 will bring their family tree in an attempt to meet remote relatives."
"The historical remembrance is the common point between all of the Acadians," he says. "We cannot forget what happened to our community in 1755."
The original Acadians refused to swear allegance to the King of England following English military victories in the mid-1700s. Governor Charles Lawrence thought Acadians would sign an oath if he threatened them with deportation. But they refused. In 1755, the English decided to deport Acadians to other English colonial possessions. British gathered the Acadian population in Grand Pré (near Windsor, N.S.) and forcibly shipped them to New York, Boston, Lousiana and the Caribbean. Acadians could take their money, clothes and some furniture, but they had to leave their catlle, houses and land they had farmed for generations.
"By November 1755, the English had sent more than 1,500 Acadians to their colonies in the south." states historian Harry Bruce in the book titled New History of Nova Scotia. He says more than 6,000 Acadians were deported by 1756. Some fled to Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick.
"It's an opportunity for Nova Scotia to gather the Acadians' relatives spread all around the world, " says d' Entremont.
The Nova Scotia - Acadia Society is already discussing a fourth international congress that could be held in France, P.E.I, or Quebec in 2008.