From Chaleur Bay to the Bayou

On August 15, we will be making a joyful noise to celebrate National Acadian Day. To mark the occasion, Beyond Words brings you an article on Louisiana singer Zachary Richard.

When the word Acadia comes up, most people think of the Maritime provinces, but Acadia is a land without borders, a territory with no official status. It was originally founded in 1604—the first European colony in North America—when French settlers came to the part of Canada just east of where Quebec is today.

In 1755, the Acadians were deported by order of the British authorities. Some were relocated to British colonies or other French colonies, while others were exiled to Europe. This was known as the “Great Expulsion” or the “Great Upheaval”. Their descendents are now scattered all over the world.

Many deported Acadians headed for Louisiana, where they created the Cajun culture. Until the beginning of the 19th century, the Louisiana government functioned primarily in French. When Louisiana became part of the United States of America in 1812, it was the only state that did not have an English-speaking majority.

Today, many varieties of French are still spoken in Louisiana, despite the significant decline caused by a long-term ban on teaching French in public schools. Nevertheless, nearly 200,000 Louisianians speak French at home, and more than a quarter report being of French origin. They are mostly the descendents of Acadian victims of the Great Upheaval, and today they are the largest French-speaking community in the entire U.S.

Happy National Acadian Day to Acadians around the world!

Published on Tuesday, August 03, 2010

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