Tuesday, March 12th, 2015 - The Honourable Pascal Poirier

The Honourable Pascal Poirier

Hon. Rose-May Poirier: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to Pascal Poirier, who became the first Acadian to sit in the Senate 130 years ago. On March 9, 1885, this young man of 27 was appointed to the Senate by the first Prime Minister of Canada, John A. Macdonald.

Mr. Poirier was born on February 25, 1852, the 12th and youngest child of Simon and Ozithe. He received a classical education at the Collège Saint-Joseph in Memramcook under its founder, Father Camille Lefebvre. When Pascal was just 20, he was recommended for a position in the federal public service. In 1872, he was named the House of Commons postmaster. This did not stop him from pursuing his studies and becoming a lawyer and author, or from rallying the Acadians and becoming their advocate.

In collaboration with Pierre-Armand Landry and Father Marcel-François Richard, he worked to advance the cause of the Acadians. He was one of the organizers of the Acadian advocacy groups and was a member of the Acadian delegation to the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste conferences held in 1874 and 1880.

He introduced the idea of Acadians having their own national holiday and promoted this concept by visiting the Acadian regions of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Thanks to his dedication to this cause, we Acadians the world over celebrate our national holiday on August 15.

After he was appointed to the Senate, he continued his historical and linguistic research. He published the following works: Le père Lefebvre en Acadie, in 1898, L'origine de l'Acadie, in 1878, and Le parler franco-acadien et ses origines, in 1928.

In 1929, Pascal Poirier received the Alliance française's gold medal in recognition of his service to the French language. Pascal Poirier is still one of the most influential figures of the Acadian renaissance. Our culture, our history and our society grew and we were able to aspire to equal rights thanks to Pascal Poirier and the other defenders of the Acadian renaissance.

One hundred and thirty years later, all parts of Acadia are still growing and developing thanks to his battles, his tenacity and his vision of a better future for Acadia.

That is his legacy for the present and the future.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

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