Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 - Louisiana Statement

Louisiana - Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of First Acadian Settlement

Hon. Rose-May Poirier: Honourable senators, today I am pleased to talk about the 250th anniversary of the first Acadian settlement in Louisiana and to offer you a glimpse of another facet of Acadian history, one set in Louisiana.

After the deportation in 1755, one Acadian, Joseph Brossard, better known as Beausoleil Brossard, together with four of his sons and other Acadians, led a resistance against British troops. He continued his resistance until 1761, when he was captured. After the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763, Beausoleil Brossard set out for Saint-Domingue. Because of the very different climate, he and his group of 193 Acadians relocated to Louisiana.

The territory belonged to Spain, but that did not prevent cordial cohabitation. In fact, in 1785, the Spaniards went to get Acadians from France to colonize Louisiana. No fewer than 1,598 Acadians came to the Lafourche bayou.

After the territory was transferred to the United States, and following the 19th century American Civil War, Cajun assimilation picked up speed. For example, in 1916, a law came into force prohibiting the use of any language other than English as the language of instruction in schools. However, in 1968, the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana was founded. Its mission is to support and grow francophone communities through French education, and thanks to its work, the French language and Cajun culture have survived. With ambassadors such as Zachary Richard, Cajuns are certainly well represented.

Why are they called Cajuns? Well, the first Acadians in Louisiana were called Cadiens by the Creoles. Over time, the English pronunciation became more distinctly "dj," and the word shifted from cadien to cadjain to Cajun.

Honourable senators, join me in recognizing the perseverance and courage of the Cajuns and saluting the Arsenault, Bastarache, Comeau, Maillet and Thibodeau families and all of the other Acadian families that reluctantly took up the challenge of relocating to Louisiana after being deported from Acadia. To this day, they are living their language and their culture.

Thank you.

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