An Anglophone preserves his Acadian heritage un mot at a time

(NC)—Donald DesRoches had no idea his ancestors were deported from Canada during the Acadian expulsion until finding his family name at the Grand-Pré National Historic SiteExternal site in Nova Scotia, which commemorates the Acadian deportation.

Donald Desroches and his family

“Although some people spoke French in my family, I never thought of myself as Acadian. I saw myself as a non-ethnic Canadian who spoke French. When I read the list of Acadian families that were deported, my eyes froze on the name DesRoches. My God, it was like discovering who I was! That was a defining moment,” he remembers.

Since then, he and his wife, Lorna Burke, an anglophone from Prince Edward Island, have created as French an environment as possible for their family.

“Even though Lorna and I are two anglophones, the language we met in, and the language we communicate in, has always been French. There was never a question what language we’d raise our children in!” The couple has worked hard to promote French in their home in Charlottetown, Nova Scotia, with a French-speaking babysitter, French DVDs–even a computer that runs on French software. “We would like our children to be fluent in both languages. Lorna and I had to work hard to learn a second language, and we now want to give that language to our children,” he says.

2009 marks the 40th anniversary of the Official Languages Act, which came into effect in 1969. “Placing value on Canada's two official languages is an investment in the future, from a professional, personal and cultural perspective,” says Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser.

There is more information available about official languages on the Office of the Commissioner’s Web site at www.officiallanguages.gc.ca/html/index_e.php.

- News Canada
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