Thursday September 19, 2013 | 12:59 PM

 World Acadian Congress

Maine’s shared history and culture with French Canada will shine at the 5th World Acadian Congress scheduled next August in Aroostook County and the international border along the St. John Valley in Quebec and New Brunswick.  The World Acadian Congress (WAC) is organized once every five years to unite the Acadians from all over the world.  In 2014, a Youth Rally is also planned.

Although events are 11 months away and counting down on the World Acadian Congress website clock, the advance notice gives families plenty of time to plan on attending the reunions and prepare for 17 days of activities.  Over 120 Franco-American, Acadian and other family reunions are scheduled.

Events will take place on both sides of Maine’s international border with Canada, next August 8-24, 2014. A schedule of events is posted on line at http://tinyurl.com/kmy2ne6.

In anticipation of attending, some helpful reading is listed in a short bibliography for beginner and intermediate history buffs, at the end of this blog..

Planning for the WAC has been going on for the past four years.  A Board of Directors includes leaders from Maine, and New Brunswick and Quebec Canada.

Organizers expect thousands of international visitors to attend, primarily, because of the 120 family reunions planned, along with loads of other cultural events.

Many of those attending the reunions will be descendents of colonial era French Acadians who were tragically impacted by le Grand Derangement, the horrible displacement in 1755, of the French Acadians from Nova Scotia, by the British during the French and English wars fought over control of Canada.  An epic fictional account of the expulsion was immortalized in 1847, by Maine poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), in his international classic “Evangeline”.

Most of the family reunions planned will bring together descendents of the French settlers who were victims and refugees of brutal colonial deportations, conducted during 1755, and subsequent years, in a violent episode in history. The British forcibly removed Acadians from Acadia, today’s Nova Scotia (New Scotland). These families were “Scattered to the Wind”, writes Carl A. Brasseaux. He and other Acadian historians describe the traumas of 1755, leading up to the Acadian expulsion. In so doing, the Acadians were forced aboard ships headed to ports in the US and to France. This expulsion separated families and, understandably, created two and a half centuries of angst among people who were irreparably harmed. They lost relatives and their property as a result of the misfortune. 

Every five years, a World Acadian Congress is organized to remember the families of le Grand Derangement.  A 40 page program describes details of the 2014 ceremonies and events. Activities begin with the opening on August 8, in Edmundston, New Brunswick, just across the border from Madawaska. On August 15th, a National Acadian Day outdoor Mass will be celebrated in Madawaska and a “New Beginnings” ceremony will be held in Temiscouata-sur-le-Lac in Quebec.

A choir formed by “Le choeur Neil Michaud” and choral groups from the Acadian region will combine to sing the festive Mass, celebrated on the Feast of Our Lady of the Assumption, the patron saint of the Acadians. 

A massive tinatamarre, best described as a huge noise parade, will be followed by a mega-concert, mainly featuring Acadian and Frano-American artists.  The mega concert will be broadcast live across Canada, says Don Levesque, vice president of the WAC in Aroostook County

Northern Maine’s shared history with Canada and Quebec are worth reviewing before traveling to these particularly beautiful sites. Visitors will benefit from reading about le Grand Derangement.  Don’t forget, one highlight of any visit to the St. John Valley should include The Acadian Village in Van Buren. 

Here’s more print and on-line information.  Hopefully others will add to the list:

Brasseaux, Carl A, Scattered to the Wind: Dispersal And Wandering of the Acadians, 1755-180.

Poitras, Jacques, Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border.

Voici the Valley Cultureway is online at 

http://www.voicithevalley.org/ . This on line publication celebrates the places and culture of the international St. John Valley.

Acadian Culture in Maine is an on line brochure published by the Park Service http://acim.umfk.maine.edu/\

 

More information is available at http://www.cma2014.com/en/

About this Blog

Juliana L’Heureux is a freelance writer whose articles about Maine’s Franco-American history and culture have appeared in Portland newspapers for 25 years. She serves on the Maine Franco-American Leadership Council.

Juliana and her husband Richard live in Topsham ME. Feel free to contact her at Juliana@mainewriter.com.

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