23 July 2005

Commemorating the Expulsion of the Acadians

In today's Boston Globe, Bill Fowler of the Massachusetts Historical Society gives a succinct description of the Massachusetts elites' role in the expulsion of French Acadians from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the summer of 1755.

I also like Fowler's concluding thoughts on memorialization and commemoration.

Over the last 250 years descendants of those Acadians who either eluded Winslow's troops or managed to return to their homes at a later time, have kept alive a vibrant Acadian culture in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Determined to gain an acknowledgement of the injustice done to their ancestors these modern Acadians brought pressure on the Canadian government. In December 2003, the governor general of Canada, on behalf of the queen, issued a royal proclamation acknowledging this ''dark chapter" and declared that henceforth July 28, the day on which the expulsion was ordered be every year observed as ''A Day of Commemoration of the Great Upheaval," commencing on July 28, 2005."

This year marks the first commemoration in Canada. Perhaps on July 28 we, too, should take a moment to reflect on this dark chapter of our own history.

North America has a long, dark history of forcing individuals to move from one space to another in an effort to turn a profit and/or secure a strategic advantage. This instance is often overlooked but crucial, I think, to understanding how the English settled the land that became the United States and Canada.


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