Organizing family reunions are among the preparations underway for L’Acadie du Monde 2014, the fifth International World Acadian Congress.

Family reunions are planned in Maine’s St. John Valley, Southeast Quebec and Northwest New Brunswick.

The two and a half week cultural program is scheduled for August 2014, with the international theme of is L’Acadie Du Monde 2014.  In Maine, the regional theme for the Congress is “Acadia of the Lands and Forests”. As in past WAC events, the intent is to bring Acadian families from around the world together to celebrate their cultural traditions rooted in a shared French colonial era history.

A three-round process is in place to organize the family reunions.  Planners in Canada and Maine say up to 50,000 people are expected to attend.

Acadians are the descendants of colonial French families who were brutally routed from their homes in 1755 by the British in what was called Le Grand Derangement, or The Great Displacement.  Some refugee families migrated to the Madawaska region which is now the St. John Valley.

Family reunions are essential to the economic success of L’Acadie Du Monde 2014.  To that end, an organized effort is underway to bring together as many families as possible who have ancestral roots in the international Northern Maine and Canadian regions.  International cooperation is the key to success, says Jason Parent, president of the Maine delegation to the planning committee.

“Plans are going very well,” Parent says. “Coordinating the family reunions is a good example of how the international organizing will be successful.”

The application process is in place to for family reunion venues.  Between now and and November 1, 2011, a family reunion committee will bring together as many applicants for the same last name as possible to encourage collaboration and the submission of one proposal.  In early 2012, the venues for the first round of reunion proposals will be announced.  A second round of requests for proposals will be announced at the time the venues for the first round are announced.  Additionally, family reunions for non-Acadians and for those who have ancestral connections outside the international regions are encouraged to apply during the third round of proposals.

Parent hopes to recruit over 100 families to register for the reunions. Eighty families registered for the 2009 World Acadian Congress.

Locations for each approved family reunion will be published in the World Acadian Congress program.  Acadian family names with ancestral ties to the international region are the first to be approved.  Family names that are not of Acadian heritage or with ancestral roots outside the international host regions will be recruited during the third round of proposals.  Family reunions approved in the first two rounds of proposals are eligible for a $500 stipend to help with organizing efforts, says Parent.  All approved reunions will be published in L’Acadie Du Monde 2014 program.

Of course, some families may decide to host reunions outside the process. Although all reunions are welcomed, those that are independently organized will be unable to have their gatherings included in the published program.

Applications for families interested in hosting a family reunion in Acadia of the lands and Forests (i.e., the St. John Valley in Maine) are available online at the temporary website for the fifth World Acadian Congress at www.cma2014.net.